Remember 2012?

It was a simpler time (at least in the sense that we had yet to reckon with our culture's collective failings). Even better, in 2012 no one had heard of murder hornets, having a slight cough didn't make anyone reckon with their mortality, and we were all bumping 1D's break out hit "What Makes You Beautiful." Life was good.

In March of that year, One Direction's hit single was shooting up the charts all over the world, Their album Up All Night was set to hit No. 1 in the United States, and the now iconic boy band stopped by Popdust for an interview.

Zayn had a bizarrely-buttoned shirt on; Louis seemed to be concerned that his hoodie would fall off his shoulders; and Harry, Liam, and Niall all still had their trademark haircuts.

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Music Lists

A Decade of One Direction: The Boy Band's 10 Most Underrated Songs

One of the best-selling boy bands of all time turns ten years old this month.

This month marks the ten-year anniversary of the formation of One Direction.

The original members of the English-Irish ensemble—Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson—each auditioned separately on the British singing competition show, The X Factor, and were assembled as a group by the request of judge Simon Cowell. By the time One Direction announced an indefinite hiatus in 2016, they had become one of the best-selling boy bands of all time. Although they were formed on television, One Direction were rapidly propelled to global stardom thanks to the Internet—a frenzy that's been likened to Beatlemania on numerous occasions—and breathed new life into the boy band movement as a result.


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We're entering week bajillion of social distancing, meaning many people haven't felt the warm touch of another human being in a very long time.

Some days that feels pretty manageable–enjoyable, even. After all, why shave in quarantine? Your cat isn't going to mind rubbing up against your cactus-calf in bed. But on other days, like the days we watch Normal People on Hulu or the day Jake Gyllenhaal posted that video where he tried to put a shirt on while upside down, it's excruciating.

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Culture News

Gigi Hadid and Zayn Malik Are Expecting Their First Child, And It's Already Hotter Than You'll Ever Be

At just 20 weeks old, the fetus is reportedly much, much richer and more attractive than you'll ever be.

If you've been considering having a beautiful, Instagram-famous baby during self-isolation, don't even bother. Zayn Malik and Gigi Hadid beat you to the punch.

Vulture reports that the 25-year-old model and former hottest member of One Direction are expecting their first child together. Apparently, "family sources" have confirmed that Hadid is about 20 weeks along and the baby is a girl, according to TMZ. Boy or girl, this baby has the genes of two of the world's most beautiful people, and is sure to stunt on us all in due time. Imagine those cheek bones, those cupid-bow lips, that ethnic ambiguity! In a culture that robs beautiful, famous children of their childhoods through paparazzi harassment, sexualization, and criticism in the media, this baby is sure to be one of the MOST harassed and MOST sexualized of all! Look out Kardashian-West children, the Malik-Hadid infant is coming for your crown!

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I have a confession: When I was a tween, Niall Horan was my favorite member of One Direction.

I'm almost ashamed to look back on that now. Harry was so obviously the only choice. His gender-queer look and love of 60s psychedelia and generally mystical aura should've been apparent to me even then. On the other hand, I was severely in denial about my own bisexuality in those days, so maybe I just wasn't ready to embrace Harry quite yet.

It's taken me a long time to get to the healthy place where I am, stanning Harry Styles and loving people who actually love me back and that sort of thing. Once upon a time, I only wanted people who wouldn't love me back, I thought everybody hated me, and I was slightly in love with Niall Horan.

The Blast

I'm not exactly sure what was going through my mind during those times. I liked Niall in the vague, floaty way that I liked anyone in those days—only in the abstract, refracted a thousand times through my own self-perception.

Maybe liking Niall was just an effort to fit in. During conversations about One Direction (there were many), I'd merely say "I like Niall" and that was it. I think I picked him because of his hair, which made him look different from the rest of the One Directioners.

Maybe it was because he seemed less egotistical than the rest. In a way, that last one still holds true; Niall feels less pretentious than other members of the former band. Or he did. Sadly, none of this, nor the strength of my lukewarm teenage devotion, could save Niall's new album.

The new album is called Heartbreak Weather. It surpasses regular supermarket pop—generic, shiny, relatively soulless stuff—to become supermarket-during-coronavirus pop: overcrowded, oddly familiar yet disorienting, and mostly empty.

Some songs are more painful to listen to than others. The title track, "Heartbreak Weather," comes complete with a corny 80s-style drum thrash and a bouncy bassline that inexplicably reminds me of fast food. "Small Talk" starts promisingly thick with dreamy reverb, but it builds up to a bouncy chorus that shakes you out of whatever restful state you may have slipped into.

I don't want to compare Niall too much to Harry, but let's contrast the low guitar riffs on Small Talk to the similar riffs on Styles' She. The "Small Talk" riffs sound heavily compressed and packed into a tiny space, whereas the lines on Harry's track sound liberated and oceanic in scope. The whole thing feels like Niall's effort to be Harry Styles, but it comes off like he's wearing his older brother's clothes, trying them on and trying to be hot while he's always been just cute.

The production and songwriting on Heartbreak Weather feel anachronistic, from a former era when songwriting wasn't so nuanced and we took the bus to school. There are hints of squelchy funk that, while not danceable, are far from relaxing.

"Nice to Meet Ya" is an unfortunate track through and through. Its chorus feels too chaotic and overloaded with sound, and the use of autotune is a travesty and a sin. The piano riffs and generic lyrics remind me of some of the performers I've seen at the many, many open mics I have sat through in my life. It's not that it's bad. The piano and songcraft are full of potential and earnest enthusiasm; but this is a major record label album, not the Tuesday after-hours show at Jolene's.

Heartbreak Weather would've fit in better during the 2000s, but music is so fiercely innovative now, and there's just so damn much of it that it's hard to imagine a place for this kind of generic, innocent pop. "Put It On Me" is a nice song, though, one I could imagine coming on the radio as I'm driving around in silence with my mom, or during the "stretching" part at the end of an exercise class. It's suburban, quotidian, from a former era, from another life. Along with the rest of the album, it exists in such brutal contrast to the rest of the current online discourse and the state of the world that hearing it today just feels jarring.

Maybe Heartbreak Weather actually comes from a parallel dimension. Maybe it slipped over from a different timeline in which people are sensible and things are boring, in which disasters are few and far between, in which we pool our resources and use them to take care of everyone like practical people.

In this dimension, Niall probably should have stuck to his original shtick, to the kind of innocence and simplicity that initially drew me to him and that defined his classic tear-jerker "This Town." Instead of trying to create a complex, funky, sexy, multi-genre pop album, Niall could've gone in an acoustic direction, honing his gentle persona into an early-Ed-Sheeran-type of balladeer and eventually graduating to more mature folk.

But that's okay—I forgive him. I forgive everyone. Because what does it matter if an album is good or bad, if it makes people happy? I'm freaked out about the virus, I'm chilling in self-quarantine, it's a Friday night, and I truly hope that Niall never sees this.

Music Lists

Harry Styles' 8 Best Covers

The former One Direction member is the musical chameleon we don't deserve.

With his two solo albums, Harry Styles has proven that he was always One Direction's strongest link.

The boy band's final performance in 2015 opened the doors for Styles to come into his own. Turns out, his solo artistic persona is pretty chameleonic. He channels classic rock as easily as he does pop and R&B. He can deliver soaring ballads with the same energy he devotes to high-energy barnburners. All of this is to say: Styles is a singular talent with a versatile voice and an undeniable charisma that multiplies his appeal.

Though his original work is typically great, Styles has also performed numerous impressive renditions of other artists' hits. From '70s folk to modern hits, we've rounded up the ex-1D member's best covers.

Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi”

Joni Mitchell's biggest hit got another breath of life when it was covered by Counting Crows in 2002. Though the band gave the environmentally-conscious tune a more adult alternative spin, Styles takes it back to its singer-songwriter origins with a fully acoustic setup. The harmony during the chorus adds a special touch.