Culture seems to be cyclical in nature.
Clothing styles seem to come full circle in a few decades, but musical styles also come back around--typically even faster than fashion. That seems to be true these days, as we're seeing boy bands begin to rise from the ashes.
Vocal-driven pop bands died out around Sept. 11, 2001, but apparently have been plotting a comeback ever since. Now, with the likes of bands like Big Time Rush, The Wanted and One Direction, the tried-and-true formula of young lads crooning to screaming girls is ruling the airwaves once again.
Just outside the Billboard Top 10, at No. 11, British sensation One Direction has a genuine hit with their sappy-sweet refrain, "What Makes You Beautiful." Lauding a girl's natural beauty and the fact that she doesn't need makeup, the song is a positive enough tune that spits in the face of the image-crazed society in which we live. But is One Direction the right direction for listeners?
As innocent as "What Makes You Beautiful" is, One Direction has a few songs on their debut album--Up All Night--that present questionable themes.
Adam Holz of Focus on the Family's Plugged In states: "These days, the progression from pulse-raising infatuation to something much more physical is only a verse or two away--even from guys who are reportedly trying to maintain a clean-cut image."
The line gets crossed with songs like "Stole My Heart," which quickly escalates from infatuation to fantasizing about spending the night with a girl the singer just met. A physical relationship is praised in the song "Everything About You." Sexual relationships are alluded to in "More Than This." There's also plenty of jealousy, kissing and lying going on in the lyrics of other songs--typical love song fare, for sure.
But as One Direction states on the song "Same Mistakes," a non-ideal formula can't be improved: "We'll play all the same old games / And we wait for the end to change / And we take it for granted that we'll be the same / But we're making all the same mistakes."
If you're ready for the return of boy bands, but don't want to make "all the same mistakes," give Manic Drive
a listen. This quartet of Canadians provides the slick vocals, the electronic backing instruments and the beats fans of One Direction enjoy, but with a different focus.
Manic Drive's hit song "Save A Life" invites people to pay attention to the people around them who are suffering, and help them: "So would you save a life... if it was do or die? Would you save a soul... even if it's not your own? If you're the hands and the arms that reach, would you save a life from drowning?"
On a typical pop album, you'd expect a song called "Money" to either whine about the lack of funds or tout the abundance of cash. Manic Drive's song of that name declares that they can't be bought: "Don't need no vault of money / Don't need my own treasury / Oh, cause my life is saved / I'm gonna keep the change."
The popular boy band ballad even makes an appearance on Manic Drive's latest album, Epic
, with "Mountains,"
a song that isn't trying to swoon some love interest, but rather encourages a friend in a dark time that faith will win out: "It's an uphill battle and though the journey's long / I'm gonna hold you till the hurt and the pain is gone / With the help of God we can carry on."
Flashy vocals, bombastic beats and sizzling synths don't have to come with compromising lyrical surges of teenage hormones. With as much skill as their mainstream counterparts, Manic Drive points to the true One Direction.
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