You Brits may have been enjoying it for months already, but for us here in the States, we only get One Direction's Up All Night album available for purchase as of tomorrow. So for those 1Ders out there who have been good little boys and girls and waited to acquire the album legally—no comment on our means of procurement—this Tuesday should be a pretty big day. Prepare for it by reading through our reviews of all 13 tracks on Up All Night, which we rolled out over the course of today one at a time, but have now compiled for you in neatly ranked fashion, from worst to first.
And remember, if you see somebody on the streets tomorrow rocking some kind of Wanted paraphernalia....well, we don't encourage bullying here at Popdust, but we're all about a nice old-fashioned glare-and-mumble. Everyone's a winner.
No. 13: "Same Mistakes"
Sounds Like: A familiar ballad that examines the benefits of wisdom gained through retrospect, also used to fill space on the latter half of an album.
Pros: The level-headed assessment of what's been plaguing a relationship makes 1D sound mature and wise beyond their years. With verses and the bridge split among Liam, Zayn and Harry, there's plenty of room for improvisation towards song's end, but it's Liam's voice that comes through as both the most understanding and the most vulnerable. Set your dreams to verse two now, girls.
Cons: The oft-repeated playing, waiting and taking seem like merely beat fillers, yet as lyricists, the boys succeed in the underhanded scheme of attaching this tune to your memory where it will never, ever let go. Still, chanting, sing-speech is better executed—and more fun—elsewhere on the album.
Mom-Approved Moment: "And you pray, pray, pray that everything will be okay."
No. 12: "Save You Tonight"
Sounds Like: A RedOne-produced rave-up, whose lyrical savior fixation and build up to the mostly vocal-only chorus makes it sound a lot like Swedish House Mafia's "Save the World." Of course, this being a RedOne number, it also vaguely smacks of Gaga, with the twinkly synth waves coming off as vaguely reminiscent of "Hair" off Born This Way. The lyrics, like "I Wish," are concerned with their beloved making a poor choice in romantic partner (i.e. Not them) and urging her to reconsider.
Pros: It is anthemic, no getting around that. And the chorus lyric of "I can't be no superman / But for you I'll be superhuman" is oddly compelling, for unknown reasons.
Cons: "I wanna save your heart tonight" is kind of a weird thing to say, isn't it? It's not like their girl's heart is being taken over by demonic spirits—the worst thing they can find to say about the guy she's with is that he's "so overrated" (by who, exactly?) and that "to him you are just another doll" (weird). Who says that your love has such incredible redemptive powers, One Direction? Also, the song is just kind of boring in general.
Mom-Approved Moment: "If you told me to jump, I'd take the fall / When he wouldn't take it."
No. 11: "More Than This"
Sounds Like: The second consecutive track to emulate the Backstreet Boys; in this case, "More Than That." (If you thought Roxy Music, great guess, but maybe their "difficult" second album.) Both tracks are earnest pleas: I can love you more than the other guy you're with, and if you don't believe me, think on this: does he have falsetto like this, and can he harmonize this well? Oh, and the track's a ballad. (Of course it's a ballad.)
Pros: With one exception, the production here's surprisingly restrained; the strings don't overwhelm the track but cushion it, and there are some nice touches tucked beneath the verses and between choruses. That said....
Cons: When producing a ballad, you can either have your rave synths or your acoustic guitar, falsetto and strings. You can't have both, and you can't listen to a ballad properly while trying to figure out whether it reminds you of Sean Paul or Shontelle. That one part in the chorus dates everything to the 2010s, the last thing you want from a ballad that's supposed to be timeless.
Mom-Approved Moment: "And as you close your eyes tonight, I pray that you will see the light that's shining from the stars above."
No. 10: "I Wish"
Sounds Like: One of the Max Martin Pink songs, with an opening guitar riff (and accompanying vocal "na na"s) that's especially reminiscent of a "Who Knew" or "Please Don't Leave Me." Otherwise, it's a synth-heavy mid-tempo ballad of heartbreak and envy, keyed around the universally relatable lyrical sentiment "Whenever you kiss him / I'm breaking / Oh, how I wish that was me."
Pros: For a group that really loves their all-in choruses, there's a nicely restrained quality to the "I Wish" refrain, in which the group belts at about a seven rather than a ten, and goes all the way down to about a four on the final pre-chorus. It's an appropriate pull-back for a song whose feeling is that of a rueful, self-pitying sigh—the emotions are sad and defeated but not extreme, and the heartfelt-but-not-overpowering chorus really gets that across. Impressive stuff from the youngsters.
Cons: No obvious cons here, but aside from the chorus, there's not a ton going on with "I Wish," a relatively simplistic number musically and lyrically, built mostly on time-tested tropes that feel comfortable but not terribly exciting. Somehow, even the more specifically derivative "One Thing" feels more original.
Mom-Approved Moment: "I hear the beat of my heart getting louder / Whenever I'm near you" or "Cause I got three little words / That I've always been dying to tell you"
Adult Content?: "When I see you with him / Slow dancing"—woah there, handsy. Chaperone!!
No. 9: "Everything About You"
Sounds Like: This is basically as raunchy as One Direction ever gets, which means it sounds like a RedOne track--you'd only need a slight remix, not a total overhaul, to play this in a club (well, maybe one of those teen clubs.) The lyrics are juuust close enough to double entendres to register, but "want to" and "want to have to" are as far as things go. It's PG. The rest of the album is essentially G, though, so that's something.
Pros: In case we weren't clear enough, "Since U Been Gone" is one of the best songs of the pasat 20 years. And when your album already namechecks Katy Perry (who's written for and/or tried to emulate Clarkson) and when every single soars more, good to be emulating the best. Also, more songs should have harpsichord lines.
Cons: One Direction is best when they sound like P!nk or Kelly Clarkson with boy-banders, not when they sound like The Wanted with slightly bowdlerized songs. This could be an album-filler demo for anybody, and if it were to be shopped around, you'd hope someone would do something about the underwritten chorus, which trails off where 1D's singles usually tend to get one more hook in. (Think "One Thing," "What Makes You Beautiful," even "Tell Me A Lie"--it's just that extra step.)
Mom-Approved Moment: "On the other side of the world--it don't matter, I'll be there in two."
For songs number eight through three, click NEXT.
No. 8: "Taken"
Sounds Like: Sasha Fierce's latest, toned down for a younger set who isn't looking to put a ring on it nor ring the alarm at the first sign of infidelity.
Pros: In the timeless "don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" genre, the once heartbroken find enlightenment through a healthier relationship and the practice of reciting Beyoncé-style affirmations each day. Written by all five guys, the song reveals the benefits time has on healing a wounded heart and ridding oneself of all doormat-like qualities for the future. It's a kind and respectful approach to moving on, but not without the knife-twister that should haunt their former partner (especially when the inevitable video comes out): "This is not about you anymore." Zayn's bridge provides a nice departure from the basic melody as well as an assessment of this journey towards self-discovery.
Cons: A tad repetitive, if anything. The fact that the boys linger on just how much they've moved on tends to counteract the idea that they actually have.
Mom-Approved Moment: "It's like I'm finally awake / And you're just a beautiful mistake," which endorses self-respect, while also paying the villain a compliment. Just because you're heartbroken doesn't mean you have to be impolite.
No. 7: "Up All Night"
Sounds Like: An soon-to-be party anthem, complete with accurate description of the destruction and soundtrack that can come with late-night excursions.
Pros: In between detailing the different activities on itinerary, Harry name-checks Katy Freaking Perry as being "on replay," which is obviously the case in similar situations happening this very minute, but could never be more appropriate for a group of barely 20-somethings who came together after "I Kissed A Girl" had made the rounds. Between the clap-stomp breakdown and various decor casualties (RIP the table), this song has the greatest chance of finding itself next to timeless party jams from the female pop star they reference, or scoring this year's Glee prom. It's also their most direct attempt at more mature content, with notes that this after hours rendezvous is more of a party for two.
Cons: A song that immortalizes Katy Perry is either completely wonderful or entirely absurd, depending on your stance.
Mom-Approved Moment: Parental units might take issue with the boys encouraging their daughters to break curfew, but as long as it's only to "jump around until we see the sun" (check your euphemisms at the door, please) and be told "she's the one" by an attractive, successful young bloke, we suppose they'll let it slide.
No. 6: "Stole My Heart"
Sounds Like: Dr. Luke, and specifically, Taio Cruz's "Dynamite," whose chorus is melodically replicated fairly explicitly by "Stole My Heart," though with enough rhythmic and lyrical differentiation that it doesn't feel like a direct rip-off. The lyrics are about 1D falling in love at first sight—well, almost first sight, as the group specifies "Took a minute, girl, to steal my heart tonight."
Pros: The "eh-eh-eh-eh" echo after the chorus is a very nice touch, and the entire thing has a kind of liveliness to it missing from a lot of the second half of the album, and a feeling of being emotionally overwhelmed that's highly appropriate for the song's content. The part after the bridge where the song whirs to a stop before exploding into the final chorus is also very nice. Even if the whole thing is second-hand Lukasz, Jamie Scott, Brian Rawling and Paul Meehan do their pop overlord proud with their effort here.
Cons: The "Dynamite" similarities might put off those who still haven't gotten over just how overplayed that song was a couple years back. And not a particularly large greivance, but with the album's preponderance of song titles lifted from other places, they may as well have titled this one after the oft-repeated refrain of "Waiting for a Girl Like You." Foreigner could've appreciated the shout-out.
Mom-Approved Moment: "There is no other place that I would rather be / Than right here with you tonight"
Adult Content?: "Your friends / They look good but you look better." Uh-oh. This is always how the awkward three-way conversation gets started.
No. 5: "One Thing"
Sounds Like: Ever heard of a little song called "I Want It That Way"? Well, One Direction (and associated songwriters) certainly have, and their "One Thing" certainly sounds an awful lot like the Backstreet Boys' classic, down to the main chorus sentiment of "IIII neeed that ooooone thiiiing" bearing more than faint echoes of "IIIII waaant it thaaaat waaaaayyy." Same pop/rock blast, same vague lyrics about an intangible sensation...if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, BSB are gonna have the most swelled heads in the business after hearing this one.
Pros: "I Want it That Way" was a pretty decent pop song, if we recall, and "One Thing" is a tribute with an energy and a chorus worthy of its obvious predecessor. The "SO GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT OF MY HEAD!" that kicks off the refrain is a world-beater, and the slamming beat that underlines it is equally powerful. Also, it's a proven fact of pop music, from Amerie to INXS: No song with the phrase "One Thing" in it is ever not good.
Cons: Some of the lyrics are a little bit hinky, especially in the first verse ("Shot me out the sky / You're my kryptonite"—whatever, Superman). Also—where the hell is the final chorus key change? Clearly, there's one lesson the group forgot to take from "That Way."
Mom-Approved Moment: "I've tried to play it cool / But when I'm looking at you / I can never be brave / 'Coz you make my heart race."
No. 4: "Gotta Be You"
Sounds Like: A hypnotic non-apology ballad. Any true responsibility and meaningful lyrics are glossed over by soaring vocals as the fivesome harken back to fellow Brits The Verve's "Bitter Sweet Symphony" with full string accompaniment leading to the chorus.
Pros: Even if they're singing of (former) bad behavior, they know how to make it sound good. Liam packs a punch with his opening line, setting the remorseful tone and likely teaching the word "anointed" to some younger fans, before welcoming the remaining four to come together at the chorus where an oozing falsetto takes over and makes one forget any possible reason why said heartache may have occurred. Zayn takes the lead on an almost chanting plea ("Can we try one time, one more time?"), equipped with a repetitive "hey, hey, hey" that instantly sticks itself to your memory.
Cons: For all the work they do towards collective crooning, the lyrics never fully apologize for whatever indiscretion may have caused their ladies to lose their trust in the first place. Instead of explaining why they made a mess of her heart, they'd rather provide vague plans to fall in love in the future, that somehow transport one to that living, breathing J. Crew catalog where the voice of Harry Styles can make you forget your mom taught you that "once a cheater, always a cheater" bit.
Mom-Approved Moment: "But if you walk away / I know I'll fade / 'Cause there is nobody else."
No. 3: "Tell Me a Lie"
Sounds Like: "Tell Me a Lie" is the latest in a glorious line of songs: those that sound like Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone." A wobbly synth butts in from time to time, and the producers've scattered a few electronic baubles throughout, but they're the only signs we're in this decade. Everything else is purely power-pop: the chugging guitar and soaring vocals, the stomp of a beat, the harpsichord line(!), the chorus that takes off as if rockets were attached.
Pros: In case we weren't clear enough, "Since U Been Gone" is one of the best songs of the past 20 years. And when your album already namechecks Katy Perry (who's written for and/or tried to emulate Clarkson) and when every single soars more, good to be emulating the best. Also, more songs should have harpsichord lines.
Cons: Maybe a tiny bit overproduced, but no worse than what's on the radio. If anything, this should work in 1D's favor.
For our top two songs on Up All Night, click next.
No. 2: "I Want"
Sounds Like: Nothing else on the album, that's for damn sure. With "I Want," One Direction take a break from the boy band playbook—penned mostly by genre mainstays like Steve Mac and Max Martin acolytes Rami Yacoub, Carl Falk and Steven Kotecha—in favor of Tom Fletcher, lead singer of British pop-punk (emphasis on the pop, obviously) superstars McFly, who never quite made it over here but had seven UK chart-toppers. Fletcher's contribution is a stomping, dramatic, piano-led number that sounds more like My Chemical Romance or Panic! At the Disco than JLS or The Wanted, a stunner on an album with an otherwise very consistent feel and sound.
Pros: Well, if "I Want" is the result of the tiniest of punk or classic rock influence on One Direction, we'd certainly like to see that expanded upon in a big way on whatever the group does next. The thing's a fist-pumper from the first piano thuds, goes positively widescreen on the shout-along refrain, and then gets taken into the stratosphere with the Queen-esque solo guitar riff that punctuates the end of the chorus. There isn't a theatrically motivated rock band in existence that wouldn't give a couple weeks off their collective lives for a song this good, yet it seems destined to be relegated to deep-cut status on an album most RAWKers wouldn't give the time of day. Anybody know if the last McFly album is any good?
Cons: I guess you could say that 1D's sneering could use a little work if they plan on a future in snottiness. Otherwise, hard to get up-in-arms about much on this one.
Mom-Approved Lyrics: "I want, I want, I want to be loved by you." (Might be a quote rather than a directly expressed sentiment, but it's still the line that most people will remember.)
Adult Content?: "If I look inside your brain / I would find lots of things." Ewww, gross, 1D!
No. 1: "What Makes You Beautiful"
Sounds Like: "Summer Nights." That opening riff could be from nowhere else. From there, "What Makes You Beautiful" becomes a pop-rock stormer, made of affirmations delivered with a smile and a soar. While it's on-trend (you can trace the vocals to 2012 just by inflection, and the guitarist or sampler's been listening to a lot of P!nk and Katy Perry), all its tricks are tested and timeless. That includes the stadium-chant bridge.
Pros: "Summer Nights" happens to be an iconic classic, and summerlong dominance has been achieved from far less. It's incredibly easy for tracks like these to be soppy, drippy sentiments over drippier tracks, but One Direction, to their credit, aren't drippy at all. Note, too, the attention to detail, like the synth stabs beneath the last "beautiful." If One Direction's Stateside spree gets them a huge crossover fanbase, that one thing (yes, pun intended) might justify it.
Cons: Wait until college to go all meta with "that's why I'm putting in a song," boys. And speaking of grown-up knowledge, there's something to be said for confidence making girls (and guys!) beautiful. But we're sure these chaps will learn both of these in a couple years. And can it really hurt to be told you're beautiful adorable floppy-haired celebrities who'll never, ever tell you otherwise?
Mom-Approved Moment: "Right now I'm looking at you and I can't believe you don't know you're beautiful."
Agree with our rankings? Disagree? Can't get "I Want it That Way" out of your head and want to sue us for emotional damages? Let us know about it in the comments section.