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Can You Explain One Direction? No, Seriously

I can't even start writing this blog without thinking about what an utter hypocrite I am.

When I was 12, I obsessed with the Backstreet Boys. I may or may not have wished my Nick Carter poster a good night as I went to sleep. I felt like their music spoke to me the same way Fleet Foxes or Sufjan Stevens do now.

My uncle once asked me if I truly believed I'd be listening to the Backstreet Boys when I was his age. I said yes. They were classic. They'd stick with me forever.

Now I'd rather stick cocktail skewers in my ears.

So, being that I experienced that sort of connection with an artist that's objectively manufactured and (not-so-objectively) lowest common denominator, I can say that I totally get the Justin Bieber thing. He's cute -- if a little feminine. He's wholesome, his voice is okay, and he has millions of dollars of backing money to make sure you think his talent is more than mediocre. He has enough media penetration to reach me -- a 24-year-old woman whose high school and college experiences led her musical taste slightly away from the mainstream. His current music is catchy and edgy enough to earn my respect, but not my fandom.

But seriously: What the fuck is up with One Direction?

No, don't tell me. I think I get it. This is the troll to end all trolls. As someone who spends about 60 percent of my waking life on the Internet, there are few memes I miss, but I can't help but think the perpetuation of British boy "band" One Direction was thanks to the neckbeards over at 4Chan, just looking to find the next Rebecca Black. Except, they're the only ones in on the joke. The rest of us are left to take One Direction seriously.

I missed the boat on this one.

Now, that's just a theory, but I really can't believe that anyone -- even tweens -- can think this music is good. Their smash hit, "What Makes You Beautiful", is loud as hell, but not in an angsty teen punk sort of way. It's loud in the same way American Idol or America's Got Talent are excessively loud. It's the only way they can get you to pay attention because there's no substance backing it up. It makes sense, since One Direction was grouped together on the 2010 season of Britain's X Factor.

I don't want to hate on these kids. I really don't. They're just like all teenagers who seem to have an obsession with achieving fame. (Frankly, I don't understand the appeal.) They're not causing any real harm to the music industry either, except now they've created a market for more boy bands. Just like in the '90s, this means there will be a surge of similar acts that crowd the airways of pop radio -- perhaps moving aside harder-working artists like Adele, swapping her powerhouse vocals for something loud and easy to swallow. And even easier to replicate.

It's not just that One Direction is bad. They're comically bad. So horrible that the first time I heard them on SNL, I thought they were a parody. Maybe a parody of my beloved BSB.

I feel far removed enough from pop radio to not give a shit -- or at least try to convince myself that I don't actually care. It's just that when a band become this famous this quick, it seems like their music is everywhere. I know "What Makes You Beautiful" without ever choosing to sit down and listen to it. It plays at malls, restaurants, and in commercials. Just the other day I was visiting a mall in Gilbert when one group of teen girls shouted to another group of teen girls, "One Directioooooon! WOOOOO!"

I guess what makes it worse is that this is the first time in my life I've looked at a popular act and said "Wait. How the hell can anyone listen to this?" It makes me feel crotchety and old. It makes me feel out of the loop.

So, in all seriousness, will someone please explain One Direction to me? Leave your theories in the comments.

One Direction is scheduled to perform Sunday, June 10 at Comerica Theatre.

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Christina Caldwell