One Direction’s “Midnight Memories” track-by-track review

One Direction’s third album “Midnight Memories” debuts the band’s growing maturity in song lyrics along with a different angle of electric rock tunes and fast-strumming guitar melodies.

The album displays a fresh look for One Direction, like the producers and songwriters wanted to state that the band is all grown up (in a PG-rated sense, of course). They’ve given themselves the potential to appeal to older audiences and create a broader fanbase, which allows fans of the band to grow up with them.

Join me in a track-by-track review of “Midnight Memories”:

1. Best Song Ever

This song starts off sounding suspiciously like The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” opening chords. It’s retro and fun, spilling into a strong rock ‘n roll guitar and an overwhelming Harry Styles growling the words “maybe it’s the way she walked.” Progressing through the song, it proves obvious why the band’s label have released this tune as the first single from “Midnight Memories”;  the rolling harmonies and catchy “oh oh oh” and “yeah yeah yeah” parts display a sure pop hit.

Verdict: 8/10 – Reminiscent of their past hit singles, no one could deny this song’s potential.

2. Story of My Life

Each member of One Direction took part in the lyrical and writing side of this song. The soft guitar strumming is Mumford and Son-esque, and the lyrics are heavy and full of emotion. The sweeping harmonies are chilling, and you could easily find this song as a soundtrack to a Nicholas Sparks movie adaptation.

Verdict: 8/10 – Sweet and simple with lilting melodies that are pleasing to the ear.

3. Diana

The shift from bubblegum pop to pop-rock sounds more in this song than the first two tracks. The beats and guitar in this selection could be iffy in the opinions of some fans, though the band makes up for the new ‘80s rock sound with the lyrics “Diana, let me be the one to light a fire in those eyes,” in which the name “Diana” could cleverly substitute for any girl’s name.

Verdict: 5/10 – Confession: I am the iffy fan.

4. Midnight Memories

This song presents itself as the most risky for the clean cut band, pushing at the boundaries of “PG” with the lyrics “Same ol’ shh but a different day” and Louis singing the rebellious line, “tell me that I’m wrong but I do what I please.” The song shows the band’s producer’s originality once again with a chorus that sounds very much like “Pour Some Sugar On Me” by Def Leppard. Nevertheless, this song’s really catchy, and with the added Harry letting out his inner rock star by shrieking into the mic towards the end, it’s hard not to love it.

Verdict: 8/10 – One of those songs that could easily be on repeat until you get tired of it.

5. You & I

Guitar-led with more emotional ballad lyrics, “You & I” depicts a love story. “Nothing can come between you and I,” they sing, and any fan can believe it. Also includes some undulating cymbals in the background and various stringed instruments to set the mood.

Verdict: 5/10 – This song is the “Little Things” of this album.

6. Don’t Forget Where You Belong

Seeing as this band has been to a lot of places in their short career, it’s obvious why they’d take part in writing a song about staying true to themselves and their past life before stardom. This tune will more than likely emerge as a highlight in their stadium tour to come with the typical clap, clap, stomp beat throughout.

Verdict: 7/10 – Solid song.

7. Strong

This song must ring true to band member Louis Tomlinson because he wrote the lyrics. His name on the credits makes any fan ponder over the emotional words, “need you to keep me from falling apart.” Everything about this song could act as the more “mature” and age appropriate tune for these boys.

Verdict: 7/10 – “My hands, your hands / tied up like two ships.”

8. Happily

The most evident copy of Lumineers/Mumford and Sons is this track. With a stomping beat and a massive chorus to match (not to mention the faded yelping of “hey” in the background), this banjo strumming tune sounds catchy and sweet. Imagine standing in a field with the sun in your hair (disregard the lyrics “we’re on fire now,” that would be too literal). That’s the feeling created with this song. Also Harry Styles wrote the lyrics for the track last summer, so there’s that.

Verdict: 8/10 – Happy song with a happy beat and happy lyrics.

9. Right Now

With help from One Republic’s Ryan Tedder (who’s created other anthems like “Halo” and “Bleeding Love”), this tune could easily appeal to an older crowd. The sense of longing in this track appears evident with the lyrics “right now I need you here with me.” They’re pining for their lover back home, they’re sad, but they still love their fans, of course.

Verdict: 7/10 – Sounds like Coldplay; I love it.

10. Little Black Dress

Head banging drum beats and a big, repeating guitar riff ensues as One Direction sings to you about wanting to watch the girl in the little black dress. “I wanna see the way you move for me baby,” Zayn sings. This song was also said to have been recorded authentically in one take.

Verdict: 7/10 – LOVE the rock sound in this song, it’s deliciously refreshing for a band who’s notorious for being so caught up in bubblegum pop fame.

11. Through The Dark

This song marks the third in Midnight Memories to have a fast beat strumming guitar that, surprise, sounds exactly like a certain folk band. Stomping, cymbals, swinging harmonies, etc.

Verdict: 5/10 – I think it’s safe to say the Mumford carbon copying is getting old.

12. Something Great

Somewhat misleading, this title doesn’t quite fulfill “great.” There’s a simple guitar and sluggish beat, and the chorus feels like if could definitely improve if it were a few beats faster. Niall sounds sort of breathy and strained as he sings “the script was written and I could not change a thing” after the chorus. Yes, we know Niall, you could do nothing about this song.

Verdict: 4/10 – Definitely not worth anyone’s three minutes and fifty-six seconds.

13. Little White Lies

Fade into an autotuned Harry Styles acapella singing about being so infatuated with you that if the room he was in was burning up, he wouldn’t even notice. You are just that attractive. If that wasn’t good enough, there’s a dubstep drop.

Verdict: 6/10 – The dubstep is a little uncomfortable; what sort of sound is this band going for again?

14. Better Than Words

A cute song. There’s whistling and “ooh”ing and autotuned voices. At one point, Niall shriek-inducingly sings “you make me wanna (sharp breath inhale) one more night.” Very risky, Niall. On a serious note though, every album should have a song that respectively closes the whole thing off. This song doesn’t disappoint if you listen to the lyrics, “I don’t know how to sum it up, ‘cause words ain’t good enough.” Ha.

Verdict: 5/10 – It does disappoint a little, I can’t lie.