When I saw Liam Payne sing the first verse of "What Makes You Beautiful" in One Direction's debut music video, I was a goner. Two years and nine music videos later, I'm still an avid 1D fan. And by avid, I mean I own their autobiography and several singing toothbrushes and know every lyric to every single song.
When "Midnight Memories," their third album, was released Nov. 25, my friends and I stormed Target to pick up copies. We then rushed back to my house, put the CD in the player, and turned up the volume to earth-shattering decibels.
The first two songs on the album, "Best Song Ever" and "Story of My Life," had already been released as singles. "Story of My Life" was a song unlike any we'd ever heard them sing before. It was slower, slightly indie, and evocative of a Mumford and Sons. In a word, it sounded mature. It reflects the fact that although One Direction started as a group of teenagers singing high-energy pop songs, they are now age 20 or over (Harry Styles, the youngest, will be 20 in February, and Louis Tomlinson, the oldest, is almost 22.). Zayn Malik is engaged, and they're starting to realize that they can't live on bubbly lyrics forever.
"Story of My Life" is a song that attempts to show fans that they had a life and identity before they became 1D, and the evolution of that identity is something they are having to face as they become adults. "Written in these walls are the stories that I can't explain," Harry sings in a melancholy tone, surrounded by pictures from his childhood.
I would describe this album as rock-pop, but definitely with more rock influences than pop. Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic and The Killers helped to write some of the songs on "Midnight Memories," and the result is an album with stronger, louder background music and fewer slow songs. It is more adult than their first two albums, "Take Me Home" and "Up All Night."
There is not a song on this album that I don't like, although the song I love the least is ironically "Midnight Memories." My favorite song so far would have to be the heartbreakingly romantic "Half a Heart," but that's bound to change, as I constantly have the album on replay. Overall though, this album is ultimately defined by the song "Don't Forget Where You Belong." This song is both a cry of longing for family and home, and a testament to their thankfulness and shock at having become so successful so quickly. It is a reassurance that they will stay grounded and never forget their roots. "Living out of cases, packing up and taking off, made a lot of changes, but not forgetting who I was," sings Niall Horan.
This album is their coming-of-age, their struggle to encompass both who they were and who they hope to become. Their maturing sound and thoughtful lyrics indicate they don't want to simply be a short-lived boy band, burned out by their own fame.
I, for one, am looking forward to watching them progress. And "Midnight Memories" is a well-deserved success on the long journey ahead.
The Life in Perspective board is made up of teens who write for the features sections. Reach Emily Hoeven at email@example.com.