One Direction: the art of manufactured pop

Simon Cowell will tell you himself that he cannot sing a note in tune. But this is the man who has slayed the dreams of many a wannabe artist – and has also been instrumental in launching the careers of a few others.

The man who started out in the mail room at EMI Music Publishing and rose to the top of the music world has an uncanny knack for sniffing out a new concept in music and turning it into gold. Enter One Direction, the latest drool-delicious eye candy material that makes young girls go weak at the knees. It’s Elvis and The Beatles all over again, with girls swooning and fainting and crying – and we love it! It makes life so interesting…

Love them, hate them. Estimates are that the 1D brand, as young as it is, is already worth millions, fuelled post-Bieber by the power of the Internet and social media, while one Mr Cowell is a whole lot richer.

The group formed out of the solo efforts of its members, who entered X Factor (the show that spawned Leona Lewis) as individuals, and were then advised to band together, since there is strength in numbers. And like so many manufactured boy bands before them (East 17, Boyz II Men, Backstreet Boys, ‘N Sync, Take That, Westlife, Il Divo), they work, and they appeal to global audiences. Of course their stuff would not suit the musical palate of the fine high art connoisseur, but in the words of Robert Palmer, it takes every kinda people, to make the world go ‘round.
This is McDonald’s music, manufactured and mass produced, and like the famous golden arches, it’s delicious, and it doesn’t last all that long. The world is littered with boy bands past, who still perform together and eke out a living (in some cases, it’s millions). But while the going is good, the world has, for now, fallen in love with one more boy band. Somewhere down the line, the world will fall in love with another one. There are just some things about human nature that will never change, because they make us human.
One Direction are set to perform in Johannesburg on 28 March 2015.

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About the author


Blogger Rob Rodell is a singer-songwriter, performing music artist, music business lecturer and singing teacher. Rodell was nominated for a South African Music Award (SAMA) for his album A Cappella Christmas. Between 2009 and 2011 he was the head of music business education at the Soul Candi Institute of Music, which is linked to the Soul Candi record label. His hit House track Could This Be Love done in conjunction with DJ Shimza and Cuebur, received extensive airplay on both YFM and Metro FM, and was released through Soul Candi on various compilation albums, selling in excess of 10,000 copies and giving it ‘gold’ status as a single. Rodell completed his licentiate in singing through Rockschool and passed it with distinction, becoming the first person in the world to do the qualification. He is currently busy with his Bachelor of Music (BMus) degree.

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