By Nick Parkhouse
WITH the exception of JLS, X-Factor groups haven’t had the best of success.
The Conway Sisters, Eton Road, 4 Sure and Hope haven’t set the charts on fire since their appearances on the ITV show – and only Journey South, G4 and Same Difference had enjoyed anything approaching 15 minutes of fame. But in 2010, judge Nicole Scherzinger suggested that five of the eliminated acts from the ‘boys solo’ section should team up to form a group.
Niall, Liam, Zayn, Louis and Harry were given a second chance and the newly born One Direction went on to finish third in the competition behind Matt Cardle and Rebecca Ferguson.
And, following in the footsteps of Olly Murs and JLS before them, One Direction have proved that you don’t have to be the winner of the X-Factor to enjoy chart success.
Their debut single What Makes You Beautiful was the third fastest selling single of 2011, their album Up All Night has shifted almost half a million copies, and tickets for this tour sold out in a matter of minutes.
The band crammed two shows into a Saturday in Nottingham to meet demand, and their evening audience must rival the liveliest and noisiest that the Royal Concert Hall has ever seen. Dwarfing even the screams for Justin Bieber’s Nottingham gig last year, the quintet appeared to a rapturous reception.
I actually felt somewhat bereft not turning up with a banner professing my love for Niall, although an unscientific poll of audience foreheads seemed to suggest a general preference for Harry.
Punctuated by video montages of the band, the show was well-conceived and rehearsed, and included a mixture of songs from the band’s debut album and some crowd-friendly cover versions.
Medleys including I Gotta Feeling and Valerie were well-received, although less impressive was a karaoke-esque version of the Kings of Leon hit Use Somebody.
The determination to give the five boys equal billing throughout the evening was a stark reminder that One Direction are fundamentally five solo artists.
In order to be enduringly successful they are going to have to realise that taking it in turns to sing a bit of a song doesn’t make them a vocal group. Someone is going to have to take them to one side and introduce the concept of harmonies before they go much further.
In addition, from time to time it was hard not to be cynical while watching thousands of fans cheering videos showing the handsome lads flirting with precisely the type of teenage girls paying their wages. Remaining within the romantic reach of their fans appears to be crucial.
Saying all that, it’s easy to sneer at pop music, and One Direction certainly know how to knock out a great three-minute pop anthem.
Their anthemic Moments was reminiscent of Take That in their 21st-Century pomp, while One Thing, I Want and Save You Tonight are also great pop records.
There’s also no denying that number one smash What Makes You Beautiful was one of the singles of 2011.
There’s little to suggest that One Direction will enjoy enduring success once their fans grow up and move onto the next big thing. However, both they and their audience are certainly having fun while it lasts, and you can’t much argue with that.