An Unfortunate end to One Direction

When Zayn Malik retired from British boyband ‘One Direction’ in March of 2015, the music world was stunned. One Direction was, after all, more successful than any other artist(s) in in the world at the time. Just a few months prior in late 2014, the highly coveted  Artist of the Year award was bestowed upon them by Billboard Magazine (a distinction based on chart metrics encompassing the Hot 100 as well as the Billboard 200- essentially meaning that they were the highest selling act of the year in the USA.)

Though the fate of the band seemed to be on shaky ground, fans around the world were relieved when the band announced that it would continue as a four-piece show, with a 5th album scheduled for release in late 2015. Their mentor and label-boss, Simon Cowell, promised that “it would be their best album yet.”

There was speculation about the release being the bands last, prior to what would be an extended hiatus; rumors of which turned out to be true. Needless to say, all eyes were on the band as they wound down their successful run, with  much pressure being placed on them to go out with a bang, so to speak.

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The first mistake contributing to the unfortunate end of One Direction, involved the release of “Drag Me Down as the first single from Made in the A.M. “Drag” was catchy in its own right, but the production was flat, and the lyrics seemed confused. On first impression, one would assume that the title of the song was referring to a certain somebody who used to be part of the band. But with lines like ‘With your love,’ and ‘You taught me how to be someone’ it is clear that the topic of the song was more along the lines of a love interest. “Drag” peaked at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in it’s first week, but failed to have any staying power, fizzling out relatively quickly in the weeks thereafter.

The holy grail of the album, which was arguably the most radio-ready single of their career, was second single “Perfect.”  It was everything you would want from a pop smash, and had a banging sing-along chorus which demonstrated the true vocal talents of band member Harry Styles. Unfortunately, the song had an unsuccessful rollout and was never really given any attention. The tides were simply not in their favor. Perhaps their moment to shine was with their first single, but they blew it with the wrong song choice.”Perfect” ended up seeing some success, eventually peaking at number 10 after a long simmer, but it is a far cry from what could have been.

The second, and biggest mistake committed during Made in the A.M ‘s cycle, was the decision to release the album on the same day as Justin Bieber’s comeback album, Purpose.  One Direction’s management probably thought it was a good way to get some free publicity, and if they were fortunate enough to come out on top, would forever be able to claim that they outsold the artist who was always their biggest competition ( Justin Bieber similarly appealed to the tween and young adult markets). Early forecasts on the sales race were in One Direction’s favor, and it is worth noting that previous One Direction albums such as Four and Midnight Memories had sold more strongly than comparable Bieber releases.

Fast forward to the week of 13 November, 2015… (Drum roll)…. Results started to stream in from reporting agencies that indicated the close race was won by Bieber. Purpose sold 522,000 units, while Made in the A.M sold 402,000.

It’s an unfortunate end note for One Direction. They might now be remembered as the band that wasn’t quite as famous as Justin Bieber.

-David J

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