|The boys, L-R: Louis, Liam, Harry, Niall, and Zayn|
Interviewed for This is Us, Simon Cowell seems as surprised as the boys at how quickly they became popular with the fans. What makes One Direction so appealing and This is Us more entertaining than a similar effort from Justin Bieber, is that sense of surprise and wide-eyed wonderment that still hovers over the group. The audience watches them travel to the U.S., Japan, and other foreign locales, the boys thrilled at their good luck and their first opportunity to see a world not just beyond where they grew up, but away from the endless publicity/recording loop they have been living for the past three years. Their families all confirm that home visits taken during a short break in the tour is the first time the boys have been back home since being on X Factor.
This is Us works best for the little girls who make up their biggest fan base, who will thrill at every bit of business from their favorite heartthrob, including scenes of the boys clowning together on and off stage. It's not exactly Help! or It's A Hard Day's Night, sadly. An opportunity missed by director Morgan Spurlock, who just basically points the camera at the boys and lets them sing or amuse each other and the audience. For parents who have been dragged along for the ride there are some interesting little sound-bytes — most of the boys realize that their ride at the top will be short-lived. They'd like to be remembered for some good songs, certainly, but mostly they hope that their friendships will endure and look forward to a normal future, with wives and kids. The boys seem tight, and to really enjoy each other's company. As much as they promote a "one for all, all for one" attitude, whether in the doling out of lines to sing in their songs, or when posing for the cameras, it is undeniable that Harry Styles does seem to stand out a bit from the crowd of five. He is the only one of the bunch who says that he wants to be doing what he's doing forever, until he's "old and wrinkled, like Keith Richards."
|Harry clowns around, back at the bakery where he worked before he hit it big|
Thanks to Apple TV and VEVO the kid can take the fun and energy of This is Us (they boys never seem to stop laughing or moving) and keep it going back home by watching One Direction videos. She can dance along with her favorites every night (or as many nights as her poor mother can stand) as the multiple videos stream by. She of course has a favorite, Louis. That's the genius of boy bands since their earliest days. The more cute faces in an act, the more fans can pick their favorites. Since girls first oohed and ahhed over John, Paul, George, and Ringo, little girls have wanted to say "He's my favorite," or "He's the [smart, sensitive, cute] one." Fill in the blank yourself, for whichever favorite dude fits the description. This stereotype of each band member bringing a specific "skill" to the table has caught such hold that even the boys in the band now are describing themselves that way, such as one little video interview snippet we saw on VEVO where Zayn (I think) described himself as "The quiet one."
The boys of One Direction seem nice enough. They're not exactly squeaky key clean, but they're not the Rolling Stones either. It's easy to make fun of their pop confection songs, but the bottom line is the songs are catchy, and the kid loves them. What's wrong with that? Not everybody has to be a Bruno Mars or John Lennon. The guys can't really dance a lick — they say as much themselves in This is Us, and try to give their dance instructor a hard time. Their lack of dance moves is one of the other refreshing things about the band. Unlike other boy bands or current pop acts there seems to be no interest or attempt on their part to learn the de rigeur choreographed cheerleader-type dancing which dominates pop music. There's no coordinated attire, either. They just look like cool guys in cool jeans and t-shirts. They may sing love songs, but their sensibility is more rock 'n' roll than hip hop or bubblegum.
|The boys hang out together during filming, on a camping trip|
I have to hand it to Simon Cowell, who certainly knows how to put together a successful musical act. I suppose my daughter and her generation will smile one day as they remember how they once swooned over these guys like my friends and I might have over Shaun Cassidy or Andy Gibb. Those were the days.