Recently I had the opportunity to attend the One Direction First Listen in Boston and it was quite the experience. I knew that I was not prepared yet, nor would I ever be, to listen to this album, but now that I have, my life has forever changed. As amazing as it was to hear the album way before it comes out, accompanied with explanations from the boys about what went into each song, it is absolute TORTURE having to wait about week and half to hear them again in full. So as the savvy blogger I am (jokes) I brought along a notebook and a pen and physically wrote down just about everything from my experience at the first listen. Now I signed a non disclosure agreement but since there are no real specifics in this post, and I’m protected under the freedom of speech (thanks dad), I’m going to share my thoughts, first impressions, and overall experience at this first listen. Before you read let me tell you though that this album is no joke. It is so different from the other albums in that you can really tell all four poured their hearts out into these songs, the lyrics are much more mature and advanced, each song has a very different sound to it, and you’ll be having all your friends texting you about these songs saying “I didn’t know that was One Direction!” It could be my bias, but after just one listen, I feel they may have a shot at a grammy. On with the review!
Just sat down in the theater after waiting in the cold for an hour. The teenagers behind me are dressed in their warm one direction attire aka, crew necks with Harry or Louis’s tattoos. A group of them will not stop saying chonce as if its the funniest thing they have ever heard. I’m pretty sure its past half of these kids bedtime. The poster in the lobby (seen above) has been extremely violated with just about everyone grabbing Harry’s dick or sitting on Louis face. As I walked into the theater I was greeted by the sounds of the new single Perfect and the image of Harry pulling the sheets showing his vine tattoos on a huge movie theater screen. Safe to say I’m already overwhelmed and I haven’t even heard a new song yet. This theater is packed and is now an impromptu sing a long as we all sing along to Perfect. Some girls are already crying and I’m mentally trying to prepare myself for THE part. Girls around me are screaming at the top of their lungs as if the actual Harry Styles is in this room. I’m feeling a big cheeky so I yell out “TAYLOR SWIFT” as Harry has his tantrum on the bed, only to have the three rows in front of me turn around and try to kill me with their eyes. Soz Larry shippers, the song is about Taylor please get over your fantasy.
Just when I thought the screams couldn’t get any louder after Perfect, a beautiful beach takes up the screen and everyone knows what that means…What Makes You Beautiful. More girls around me start to cry as we are forced to watch the fetus boys frolic on a beach and have no clue what they are doing as they film their first music video. Sony security is dancing in the aisle as they keep a watchful eye out for cellphone usage. While Liam starts the song, the screams don’t start until Harry starts singing which becomes a pattern throughout the night. I scream for Liam because that’s the moment I fell in love with this band. The moment I saw a curly headed Liam singing to me on a beach I was sold. I signed away my soul and dove head first up one direction’s asses. An interesting fact is that only about half the theater screamed for Zayn, with a little murmur of boos. Tough crowd, some people are still salty. I go to write down these notes when all of a sudden the entire place shakes with screams because the then 16 -18 year old boys are now shirtless in the water. Moment of silence for their untattooed torsos.
We are about 20 minutes from the start time so you know what that means.. more music videos. Before we get the new music we are blessed with a walk down memory lane as we watch Live While We’re Young featuring the entire audience rowing along, Kiss You featuring blood curdling screams for the shirtless scenes and Harry’s nipples, Best Song Ever accompanied by upset screams due to the fact they cut out the beginning talking bit (at this point I was so emotional because 2013 Harry in BSE is the bane of my existence). Story of My Life which I hadn’t seen in forever, consisted of me screaming for my favs…you know who I’m talking about…no not the boys! I’m talking about Anne, Geoff, and Greg! The looks I got for screaming for Geoff and Karen were priceless. Last but not least they played Steal My Girl and that’s when it finally hit me. The FOUR era is over, in the past, and now tonight I embark on my journey through the Made In the AM era. After the shit show of 2015, who knows what the next year with the boys on break will bring. The screen is showing a warning sign about cell phone usage, this is actually happening
The movie starts with the boys being asked what its like to have done 5 albums in 5 years. The boys give their typical answers about how now its time for a break and they were so lucky that us fans allowed them to work and achieve success at that pace. I’ve noticed Harry has not shaved for this interview because there is a clear line of peach fuzz along his upper lip. The camera really zooms in on Niall drawing me to look at his teeth and admire how beautiful they are. While Louis, Liam, and Niall managed to answer the question in a sentence or two Harry takes forever to answer a question. This little interview modeled the teasers that 1DHQ had been posting. Some new information from this interview included Liam saying that they are “rubbish” at picking song titles which gained a collective laugh from the audience. Silent “ughs” as Louis explained why the album is titled what it is in his adorable Yorkshire accent. I was mesmerized by the way his mouth moved as he spoke.
Before the song starts and I realize there is no going back and this album thing is happening and ready or not here it comes, the boys explain that Hey Angel is not a sad song. Harry in his long winded way describes it as this album’s “Clouds” in that its “stabby.” A strange adjective for sure but not as strange as the thirteen year old sitting next to me responding to Harry saying “stab me with your dick.” Yeah that was uncomfortable. I had expected to this song to be a ballad given the heaviness of the lyrics Harry has been tweeting but I was surprised with the energetic beat.
Instead of us just listening to the song, it has been paired with footage of the boys. For this song they showed Harry in his maroon with gold detail jacket taking pictures from inside a car. I love photographer Harry and we usually only get pictures of it so having a video of it was pretty amazing. Harry’s vocals are so much in this song. That’s literally what I wrote down “Harry’s vocals are so much” Harry has that voice where he has so much intensity that it sounds like he’s screaming but he’s only just singing. This song is full of that, especially for some of the hard hitting lyrics. It’s very music driven as it carries the chorus and intensifies and mellows out. More video footage included Harry with his manbun playing the guitar which prompted numerous screams followed by shhhhs and IM TRYING TO FUCKING LISTEN HAVE SOME RESPECT! from a few audience members. Niall also danced on his private jet like the cute leprechaun he is. This song is definitely a Harry song and in my opinion now that I have heard it in its entirety, its a great track to really set you up for what to expect on this album and what the aesthetic of the songs all together will be. I summed it up as a great driving song or a song that the lyrics just really impact you.
Drag Me Down
We’ve all heard it, we’ve all seen the video, so what was this track? A proper sing along. As a single this songs absolutely kills but I was curious to see how it would fit on the album as a whole. As the boys explained the song and how its an anthem for all they have been through and a response to all the shots fired at them, I couldn’t help but just stare at Liam’s lips. The video started and I’m convulsing because of Harry and then snapped out of it as the place erupted into screams from when Louis appears out of nowhere. Now I know how I sing my One Direction songs in that when the choruses are repeated I sing every single interjection, note change, you name it, but I didn’t know that everyone else does that to. The entire theater never finished the chorus and instead all attempted Harry’s high notes at the end of the song. I wish I had earplugs but at least they drowned out my own singing.
Harry and Louis described Perfect and how it isn’t a love song but it is and that its about having fun and not being in a serious relationship. The screen alternated between showing the song title and the video which caused many problems. Everyone screamed when they didn’t show the Haylor part. Screams of bloody murder because all they wanted was to see Harry lie down on a bed but they don’t like Taylor which was shown when Harry said the song is about just having fun and its not a romantic song. Harry explains it saying “I’m not perfect but I’m perfect for you”
For my real reaction to Perfect click HERE
The last of the songs we have already heard meaning everything from this point on is new material. At this point I was taking deep breaths after making this realization. Louis explained that this song was created on the first day of writing and in his opinion, is the most epic on the entire album. I think he is referring to the major beat drop, choral like feel to the song, and Harry’s intensity
“Yeah I’m glad that one’s on there”- Harry about the song
This song was accompanied with footage from the Honda Civic Tour Diaries. We got to see boxing Harry, birthday boy Liam, Niall and Louis having a laugh, the boys dancing around on stage, and it basically put me in post concert depression now that OTRA is officially over. A highlight of the night for me was when a close up of Harry’s gold boots appeared on the screen and I screamed my fucking head off. They creatively used footage of the songs with everyone’s cell phone lights when the song talked about the stars. It was a really nice audio and video pairing
End of the Day
To be honest I fully expected this one to be Harry on a loop saying End of the Day like he did in the younger days. In all honesty, I would thoroughly enjoy that. This song is completely bipolar in that the verses stand alone to the chorus but they somehow make such an awesome song. Louis’s eyes lit up as he talked about how the song has its different pieces and he thinks its cool that no one really expects it. After hearing the song I understood why Louis was so excited for it. Brace yourselves…LOUIS HAS AN INSANE SOLO THAT ENDS WITH A HIGH NOTE IN THIS SONG!!! You heard me, prepare yourselves because this album gives you all the Louis vocals you always wanted but never got. The videos shown with this song included the boys on their photoshoot for Between Us which was adorable enough. This song is super catchy and I found myself at work singing the chorus over and over because it really stuck out and its the only part I know. Harry has some awesome notes in this song and the guitar is just insane.
“LOVE IT!! SO GOOD!!” – my handwritten notes
If I Could Fly
Harry is making me lose brain cells as he takes forever and a day to repeat the same idea in three different ways talking about this song. I instantly perk when I hear him say “piano” because that’s something we haven’t had since They Don’t Know About Us on Take Me Home. The boys voices with piano? Sign me the fuck up. Harry droned on and on about how for this album they really got to “Sit and focus” on what they were writing. He also took the time to shade Rock Me while explaining they got to write songs they truly wanted to write that didn’t need a “boom boom ah”
Int: “Can you fly?”
It’s a piano song with a slow, sad, depressing feel to it. This song just made me sad and it was hard to listen to for the first time in just one take. Harry really takes over this song and on top of all that, they showed 2012 footage! Footage of the fetuses during their first bits of promo and interviewers and causing trouble at radio stations. For some reason the footage was very Larry based and it showed a lot of Louis and Harry together when they used to be close friends back then. One scene showed Harry on some car thing and Louis pushing him the whole way.
LOUIS VOICE!! in this song its everything, and whats more? HE HAS ANOTHER SUPER NOTE. Everyone’s vocals are amazing in this, the piano and lack of big music behind them really allows them to show off their pipes. The song seemed to repeat “For your eyes only” multiple times as the footage showed the boys shoving Harry into a British flag cake and just about everyone was crying because we weren’t expecting such old footage.
Long Way Down
This was described by Liam as “quite sad” and is definitely about the upcoming break. Liam describes it as a mountain and how they are slowing coming down from the peak and that the song itself musically mirrors that. A big shock in this was when Liam said ” a couple of years off” which was weird because they have been saying its going to be a shorter break then we all think in other interviews. The song is also about Sophia kinda. I’m not sure when this was filmed but there was a sadness in Liam’s explanation that gave me that impression. Niall lightens the mood a bit talking about how they asked for him to sing like Springsteen and have some grit to his voice for the song. I found this song to be really sad, I remember getting very emotional about it because the lyrics sounded as if they were saying goodbye to us. It gave me a feeling that they feel like they are coming down from their success and that this is the end.
“Built it up so high and now I’m falling it’s a long way down”
This song was paired with more OTRA footage of the guys onstage and some backstage things for which someone screamed “get out Lottie!”
Boy oh boy is there a story for this one. Picture this, you just heard a song that makes you think maybe they boys aren’t coming back and this is sort of like a goodbye album and then you hear Never Enough is next. This song has been thrown out by Niall here there and everywhere that it’s his favorite. Niall is going on and on in the video about how they incorporated a trumpet, trombone, and a saxophone, something completely foreign to a one direction song. I’m so pumped for this, it has been so teased and it starts and its so great and I’m dancing in my seat getting lit and then the lights turn on and the movie is now a blank screen.
Security guards come in asking for “Julia on twitter” because she has been tweeting and leaking content. As fangirls we know our shit so everyone races to find her twitter. We were given an ultimatum that Julia turns herself in or they wont put the listen back on. Girls start screaming about how they are gonna kill her, how the boys work so hard and they can’t believe someone is disrespectful enough to leak it and blah blah blah. We later found out that Julia wasn’t even in our theater, that she had gone to an earlier showing and was just now leaking it. Security hadn’t even checked the timestamp on the tweets (7:20) which is way before our theater even heard any new music. It was all a big misunderstanding but it took away from my experience listening to Never Enough. It had a kind of “Hooked on a Feeling” feel with all the grunting and new sound.
Harry makes no sense as he explains this song saying its about someone but its not about someone and its about Olivia but its about everyone…I truly have no idea what he was saying. This is the song that Liam teased a bit of and I was so excited to hear it!
There’s some talking before the song starts which took me right back to Jonas Brothers and Lovebug #tbt. There is a new sound to this, almost like a musical but just enough to still be taken seriously. It’s pretty, and happy go lucky and again has an oldies, kinda Beatles feel to it.
These lyrics are from Olivia
What A Feeling
Described by the boys as “super Fleetwood” which was so evident once I finally heard it. Louis admitted he likes to listen to this song because he feels like a “bit of a chief”. It has a really cool vibe, very chilled out similar to Fireproof. In fact I think Fireproof could stand as a prequel for most of the songs on this album. I really like the lyrics to this song and how easy going it is. It is very Fleetwood which I think works perfectly to describe it.
Love You Goodbye
Explained by Louis as being the most personal to him about a situation in which you see your ex again and maybe want to give it one more try. All those feelings come back but you have to accept that its your ex. (Aw Eleanor). Liam and Louis have claimed this track as one of the their favorites on the album.
“Good one to perform” – Harry’s words of wisdom
This killed me because who knows when they will ever perform it besides the London Session. This song marks Louis’s third big stand out note on the album! I love that Louis is finally more confident in his vocals and is attacking these big parts of the songs. Harry’s voice is so low in this song. More OTRA footage was shown.
I Want to Write You a Song
Liam really likes this song and said out of all the songs they have ever written, this is the song that he would write for someone. (Aw Sophiam) Which is ironic to him because the song is about writing a song! Liam explains the little details that make the song such as the sound of pencil and paper that appears in the background. He described it as “soft, sad, with a bit of grovel.” This song is as cute as it can get. Think Truly Madly Deeply, but 100 times cuter!! Its honestly so fucking cute I almost cried. All I kept writing in my notebook was “so fucking cute.” The footage for this was the lovely Take Me Home photoshoot where the boys wore fancy clothes and piled around a telephone booth to get that perfect album shot. One thing that should be noted that I thought was a bit rude was how much effort they put in to truly conceal Zayn. I find this rude because yes he left the band, but he was there for those days and it’s so unnecessary to pretend as if he wasn’t there at all. Despite the footage the song is so loving and cute and I just wish they would sing it to me.
**I’m writing this at 11:00pm on 11/5/15 so I don’t know if this song has dropped today (11/6/15) when this is posted.
Nothing is more tear inducing than when the boys describe a song as “for ourselves and the fans” Niall touches on the how much this band has done and how much they have gone through in the past year but is sure to add “LETS NOT STOP NOW” Which is weird because of the other songs that seem to be saying goodbye but I trust him. This song had super old footage, like younger than 2012, the first few times that the boys were filmed after x factor. I label it as an anthem for 1D with a Toy Story feel. It has that Randy Newman, You’ve Got a Friend In Me, kinda of style which is so adorable. (Liam has just recently said in an interview that its a modern You’ve Got A Friend in Me.. Point for me!) Hearing the boys sing about how much fun they have while watching them have fun had me grinning from ear to ear. Louis has most standout parts, and the song has an overall message that they don’t want fans to forget about them.
THIS SONG IS MY EVERYTHING. ITS NO CONTROL PART 2. ITS THE MOST ADULT AND SEXUALLY CHARGED ON THE ENTIRE ALBUM, ITS MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE. Niall explains that the album was missing a rock song and that he was thinking something along the lines of Sex on Fire. He also explained that it has a bit of love and dirt. Niall tells us that its about picking up girl in bar who is approached by men but doesn’t want them. I would classify this as a booty call song. If you’ve heard the preview then you know that its about offering to be something temporary for someone, nothing serious, just some fun.This song is so damn sexy, which did not fit with the 1D Orlando footage. I would have much rather watched the Talk Dirty video along with this song.
“Everyone has a grungy night out” – Niall Horan
“Let me touch you where your hottest” – CAN YOU NOT, these damn lyrics
Walking in the Wind
Harry explains the Paul Simon influence to this song and how it is quite casual and conversational. I found that the music sounds a bit like “oh what a night” from Jersey Boys. Its a sweet song that gave me the impression that its about Zayn leaving but it could also be about anyone leaving. They showed Story of My Life behind the scenes footage for this song.
At this point I got paranoid that security was watching me write things down so I didn’t write much but I remembered that I really really liked this song. Liam’s explanation was so cute! About guys approaching his girl making him want to fight. I’m sure you have all seen the video by now.
Talking out of our asses
Talking out of our asses
Talking out of our asses
This song is adorable about those late night conversations everyone has in the wee hours of the morning. That’s when true friendships are made and bonds are formed. It makes me all warm and tingly thinking about these boys staying up late together just talking shit and drinking. AH DOR AH BLE
“You don’t remember 2am but you remember 6am because you’ve sobered up by then”-Niall
That’s all folks! A little insight into this album that is sure to fuck you up and make you the happiest you have ever been at the same time. I’m not lying when I say this album is amazing. I truly think the song writing, the maturing, the themes, the relatability will put this album in a class of their own. Honest opinion I would compare it to Red. If you have heard Taylor’s album, you will know that Red has its fun songs, and its sad songs, and its hits. Thats what this album is, it can be serious, it can be hella fun, and it has some great singles. Either way the boys truly poured themselves into this album. It doesn’t sound that different without Zayn, and it feels so authentic compared to their earlier songs. There is something for every genre, there is no “Once In a Lifetime” dreaded track, there are so many new music styles, so many old influences to appeal to other audiences. My favorites are Temporary Fix, I Want To Write You A Song, Never Enough, History, and A.M. Did you go to a first listen? Have you listened to the shitty leaks? What do you think?
I am so grateful I was able to attend the First Listen, and I hope what I’ve said gives you just enough insight that has you begging for this album like I have been ever since the first song started.