Earlier today One Direction released a new track, free to download for a 24 hour period only, and announced that their fourth studio album will be called Four and will be out on November 17th. The song, called ‘Fireproof”, is mostly why I’m writing this post. Because I really like it, but also because I really like what it means for their future as a band.
I really enjoy it as a song. I’ve seen it described as very ‘chill’ and mellow, and it is. I like that it’s neither a pop hit nor a ballad, but somewhere in between. I’ve seen posts comparing its sound to Fleetwood Mac, The Beach Boys etc., and I don’t listen enough to either of those bands to say for sure, but I don’t think the comparison is too far off. If Midnight Memories was a transition away from the straight up pop of Take Me Home, then this is another step in that direction, and it seems like it’s also another step toward a sound that is more their own.
The lyrics didn’t particularly blow my mind on first (or second) listen, but after actually reading them through once I’ really like them. I obviously can’t know for sure what the motivations behind the song are, but I can sort of guess. Because Louis and Liam co-wrote on it I know that most people seem to agree it’s written for their girlfriends. I’ve seen people write it’s about their relationship to each other within the band, how they offer each other support. The song is gender neutral (a frequent thing in One Direction’s music), and I like that it leaves it open for people to read into it what they want (as long as it doesn’t go to the bad places). Regardless, it’s a pretty honest song, which is kind of my drug.
I really like the lyric ‘I roll and I roll ’till I change my luck’, both because it’s a nice sentiment, but also because it’s sung by Louis who – likely more than the other members of the band – has been told he’s going to fail on multiple occasions by multiple people, but keeps pushing through. I have mixed feelings about Louis Tomlinson, but times like this I realize how much he actually cares.
What I’m most fascinated by in terms of this release, however, is how much it comes across like a very conscious rebranding for One Direction. As I mentioned earlier, this is likely the continuation of a transition into a sound that is more suited to their style. They are releasing a track for free – a pretty good promotional strategy, but one they haven’t tried yet before now – and that they’ve rebooted the entire website, along with the very simple (and very indie) album cover and promotional photos. All of this makes me really hopeful. Hopeful that they feel really happy with the music they produce, and hopeful that this slow reinvention means they plan to stick around for a while. Boybands are not known for their longevity, and whether or not One Direction will breakup is a topic constantly up for discussion, both in the media and in fandom. I’m really hoping they don’t – not any time soon anyway.
Lastly, it has been pointed out to me that by making both the new track and the new sound a surprise, dropped unexpectedly with no forewarning, they’ve regained control of their own narrative as a band and made sure that their promo will be focused on their music rather than their personal lives. As it should be. Again, this is not my area of expertise, but if that is correct, then I’m all for it.
I’ll leave it there. You guys should check out the song, even if you’re not fans of One Direction. Maybe you’ll like it.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go track down the new Fall Out Boy track. What is with today and new releases?