Wednesday, August 7, 2013

One Direction's Best Song Ever Parodies Itself

The genre of the "Boy Band" has produced as much memorable satire as it has great music, and the groups of young men responsible for the product have always made themselves targets for the inevitable criticism. The latest group to sit atop the charts and occupy the hearts of teens and tweens - and plenty of other fans as well - is the British band One Direction. After breaking sales records with their first two albums - and generating some great hype with singer Harry Styles dating (and being dissed on the Grammys by) Taylor Swift - One Direction has staked a claim to pop fame and fortune. Despite the groans from music purists, One Direction has filled its niche nicely. It set a new music video record with the release of the song "Best Song Ever." And, they made a great decision to poke some fun at themselves - and their genre - with a clever video about the filming of the One Direction movie.

The classic dual-casting where each band member plays himself and the role of a "Hollywood persona" they are mocking - even as the band literally occupies and profits in the very world they parody - argues these singers are not unaware of how they are perceived. Certainly, critics could mock them for feeling the need to portray themselves as not buying into or being a part of the very culture they inhabit - as in "we would never do that ... we would never wear that." Perhaps they are trying distance themselves from their genre. Perhaps they have an insecurity that needs to claim they are not a classic Boy Band. Perhaps they shouldn't need to unroll a poster of actual concert footage of themselves dressed "normally" with the statement, or plea, "This is us." Obviously, the outfits and the choreography that they eschew are simply varying degrees of the kind of packaged product that Boy Bands have always represented. Clearly, the dancing they do is the very thing they say they wouldn't.  But being able to laugh at yourself ... and then going on doing what you do is, in some way, admirable ... or at least amusing.

As far as songs go, "Best Song Ever" is a classic boy-band-commercial pop song. There is no doubt about that. Of course, there's nothing really wrong with that either, and the young men of One Direction seem perfectly at ease with the roles they are playing.

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