Deep Album Cuts Vol. 33: One Direction

Usually I make these playlists for acts that have been around a while and have built up a good-sized catalog. But I wanted to take a look at One Direction, whose debut album was released only 39 months ago, because in that short time they've released four albums, each one better than the last. I liked "What Makes You Beautiful" as a big goofy pop anthem, and generally rooted for One Direction in the nu-boy band rivalry with The Wanted that by now seems hilariously one-sided. But with their third album, Midnight Memories, and especially last year's Four, I've started to notice how frighteningly consistent they've been.

Obviously, One Direction were assembled on a reality show, and exist largely as a giant commercial entity and a canvas upon some of the weirdest fan fiction in pop history is being painted. But that doesn't mean they can't have good songs. And while their albums have largely been assembled out of the U.K. song factory with occasional names familiar to the American charts (Dr. Luke, Shellback), two members of One Direction, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson, have played an increasingly large part in the songwriting as their records have gotten better -- they co-wrote over half of the songs on this playlist.

One Direction Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Little Black Dress
2. Little White Lies
3. Clouds
4. Tell Me A Lie
5. Loved You First
6. Stockholm Syndrome
7. Diana
8. Change Your Ticket
9. Up All Night
10. They Don't Know About Us
11. Ready To Run
12. Stand Up
13. Alive
14. Where Do Broken Hearts Go
15. I Want
16. I Wish
17. I Would
18. No Control
19. Fireproof
20. Does He Know?
21. Spaces
22. Girl Almighty
23. Last First Kiss

Tracks 4, 9, 15 and 16 from Up All Night (2011)
Track 12 from Up All Night (Yearbook Edition) (2011)
Tracks 10, 17 and 23 from Take Me Home (2012)
Track 5 from Take Me Home (Yearbook Edition) (2012)
Tracks 1, 2 and 7 from Midnight Memories (2013)
Tracks 13 and 20 from Midnight Memories (Deluxe Edition) (2013)
Track 3, 6, 11, 14, 18, 19, 21, and 22 from Four (2014)
Track 8 from Four (Yearbook Edition) (2014)

Obviously, One Direction have just four albums, and I'm not trying to make it look like they have eight or anything. But I wanted to distinguish the bonus cuts from the main albums since everything they've released so far has had a deluxe edition with multiple tracks that are just as good as anything on the main album. And of course, the emphasis is on Four, an amazing album which I included 9 tracks from -- and I've never had more than 7 tracks from one album on one of these playlists, although the fact that they only have four records is also a factor. "Clouds" has been the standout of Four that's really made me stand up and notice how good the whole album is. It's the opening song on their current tour's setlist, and supposedly may be their next single, but for now it's a deep cut so I'm keeping it in there.

One of the things that interests me about One Direction is that they've got the least R&B or dance pop in their sound of any big boy band of the last 25 years. There's maybe a track here or there with a dubstep break but that's about it, everything else is drawing from rock and synth pop and folk. Which might sound boring, but in an era of Ed Sheeran rapping and Nick Jonas doing an R&B reboot, it's kid of refreshing. There's a lot of stuff they draw from that you're otherwise not hearing on big pop records in the 2010s. Over the last couple years, 1D's singles have regularly ignited minor media furors for being obvious pastiches of pop/rock hits of yesteryear -- "Best Song Ever" sounded like "Baba O'Riley" by The Who, "Midnight Memories" sounded like "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard, and "Steal My Girl" sounded like "Faithfully" by Journey. There's not as much of that in the deep cuts, but "Does He Know?" is a nice little rewrite of "Jessie's Girl," and "Stockholm Syndrome" builds beautifully on "Everybody Wants To Rule The World."

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
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