One Direction’s “Midnight Memories”: Will Feminists Love It or Leave It?
Shelby Rosten | On 27, Nov 2013
Calling women crazy to dismiss their interests and opinions has a long history, stemming back long before fans of One Direction (and even The Beatles, as they are so often compared to). The band and the fans are often ignored or talked down to since they have a primary audience of young women. Just like these fans should not be taken for granted (and if you’ve seen interviews of the One Direction boys being asked about their “crazy fans,” they are the first ones to defend them in a respectful and appreciative manner), neither should the music they are listening to. One Direction has their new album, Midnight Memories, out this week! We thought we’d take a listen to the album track-by-track, and really look at how the band is doing.
“I said ‘Can I take you home with me?’ She said ‘Never in your wildest dreams!’”
The first track on the album definitely lulls you into the false sense that this is just another One Direction album: more of the same poppy, upbeat, everything’s perfect when we’re together music.
“I drive all night to keep her warm and time is frozen”
Most of my love for this song in particular is just for the fact that their voices sound beautiful on it. The first ballad on the album, this one introduces their new, indie rock feel. Basically, this song makes you go “aww.” These first two tracks are singles that we’ve all already heard before, so let’s get to the new stuff.
“I swear I’d never put you down”
A name! They’re singing about a woman with a name! We’re 1/3 of the way to passing a Bechdel Test now! Also, asking permission to be with her? It feels like a holiday, and One Direction is celebrating by singing about a strong, independent, and named woman!
“People talk shhh but we don’t listen”
This one seriously cements the band’s new ’80s rock sound. Party on, guys, because we’re asking for consent and making memories together!
You and I
“I figured it out, Saw the mistakes of up and down, Meet in the middle, There’s always room for common ground”
Hinting at compromise, resolution and admitting mistakes were made and accepting the possible ending of a relationship are all wonderful things that this song talks about. It’s both respectful, and I don’t think I’ve mentioned yet how incredibly gender-neutral a lot of these songs are.
Don’t Forget Where You Belong
“If you ever feel alone, don’t, You were never on your own, And the proof is in this song”
If you’ve read anything else I’ve written for Feminspire, you may have noticed that I am a huge fan of female friendship. In what could easily have been a song of the “oh I wish I were there with you instead of out on my world tour” variety, this song instead celebrates this group of men and the accomplishments they’ve achieved together. It’s wonderfully nostalgic for the present, and a great reminder to them and to fans of how far the five of them have come from the X Factor to their third album. Friendships of any kind are important to celebrate in a culture that so idolizes romantic love.
“Cause when I’m not with you I’m weaker, Is that so wrong? Is it so wrong? That you make me strong.”
Here they recognize the strength in togetherness and again, a wonderfully gender neutral song about a significant other.
“I don’t care what people say when we’re together”
Dismissing the societal expectations and norms because I want to be with you? Now we’re getting somewhere.
“Right Now, I wish you were here with me”
Togetherness really is a theme throughout this album, and it’s not just restricted to romantic love like this song is. They have paid homage to friendship, to romance, and respectful and honest relationships.
Little Black Dress
“I want to see the way you move for me, baby”
Okay, here is where I’ve got a problem, One Direction. Addressing a woman’s clothing instead of her name? Only talking about her appearance? On an otherwise wonderful album, one of the catchiest songs had to anatomize and diminish a woman’s worth, didn’t it?
Through the Dark
“You tell me that you’re hurt, and you’re in pain, And I can see it here”
The greatest thing about this song is that in a culture that, like we mentioned earlier, so often dismisses the feelings and emotions of others (especially women), this song recognizes them as valid and important.
“Come on, jump out at me, Come on, bring everything, Is it too much to ask for something great?”
A daydreaming about the future song, this one is similar again to You and I.
Little White Lies
“But you, you don’t tell the truth, No, you, you like playing games”
You’re saying one thing, but I think you’re lying and thinking another, so I’ll change your mind? Come on, One Direction, I wanted to stay positive. Don’t get me wrong, this song is catchy and fun, but even insinuating that women are liars and no doesn’t necessarily mean no, that you just need to convince her, is never going to be okay.
Better Than Words
“Cause words ain’t good enough”
Cleverest song on the album by far. Just see the title. That’s the song. Go listen to it.
Why Don’t We Go There?
“If you give in tonight, just let me set you free”
“Say the word, but don’t say no-o-o.” NO, One Direction. Just no. It’s nice that you’re asking, but no does mean no, as we’ve said above (and feminists everywhere have shouted from the rooftops apparently to no avail). Continuing to write songs about convincing women, or anyone, to sleep with you is by no means exclusive to One Direction, but with their fanbase it’s songs like this that we definitely don’t need.
Does He Know?
“Does he know you’re out and I want you so bad”
Why does he need to know, boys? But seriously folks, a song about someone who is cheating on someone else, but never really discusses the person doing the cheating in their own right isn’t okay. Stop the madness.
“She said okay, but she was worried what her friends will think”
I’m a little in love with this song, and objectivity about its greatness is not guaranteed. We’ve got a female doctor, a woman in power, and a condemnation of slut-shaming, basically. I’m a happy listener for now.
Half a Heart
“I’m half a heart without you, I’m half a man- at best”
To finish off the album, we return to some standard boy band fair: I wish we were together since obviously we’re better together.
Personally, I think this is overall One Direction’s best album to date, both musically and morally, even with a few questionable tracks. So let us know what you thought of Midnight Memories in the comments!
Written by Shelby Rosten