1D is going in one direction. To the top of the charts. This week sees the world premiere of a new documentary about the teen heartthrobs, One Direction. The documentary runs one hour and 32 minutes and fans will love every minute. One Direction have released 21 songs to date and sold more than 19 million singles and 10 million albums in the last two years. Perhaps their documentary should have been longer.
If you blinked you might have missed them, but no longer. One Direction are the boy band that has exploded onto the music scene and into the hearts of teens from American, Britain and around the world. One Direction: This is Us was planned to coincide with this eruption of support. The band was another well-conceived idea. Unlike the romantic image of an emerging band breaking forth from the paint-deprived garages of a depressed urban landscape, One Direction were conceived by megastar Simon Powell on the 8th edition of his hit TV show, The X Factor.
Simon Powell auditioned the singers as separate solo acts. He expected them to perform well on the show. But they flunked. Perhaps for the first and only time. Recognizing their potential, Powell encouraged the five singers to work together for five weeks and see what they could produce. Their first performance together was for Simon Powell at his home in Spain. They were an obvious and undeniable hit. Their clean sound combined with sincerity, honesty and unpretentious youthfulness was just what could be marketed.
Unlike many pop groups that find success in just one country, One Direction had a broad enough collection of songs that would let them break into the massive US market. And they did. Columbia Records was there to support the action. Building followers was predictably youthful with Twitter and facebook. “US fans. Make sure to tune into America’s Got Talent tonight.” “Harry is excited about the #1DMoviePremiere! Are you?! 1DHQ.” Today there are 19,582,898 “likes” on facebook and 1.5million people are talking. With fan support surging from their social media presence, the publicity train is moving at full steam. 1D is going in one direction; up!
The US music charts are more focused on individual singers these days. The marketing world is hooked on the life of the solo singer; Justin Bieber, Logan Henderson and Glee’s Damian McGinty. Print and social media respond quickly to stories of these heartthrob acts. As in days of old, the teen press provides an encyclopedia of new heartthrobs to idolize but more importantly, the immediacy of social networking sites is a magnificent tool for lone singers.
One Direction goes against the mold in this respect. Columbia Records have recognized that the clean, good looks of these English and Irish teenagers is a fresh opportunity for the heartthrob marketplace. This week a documentary is being released which shows the excitement of their newfound American fame. Directed by Morgan Spurlock, the documentary focuses on the fresh faced innocence of the band. Morgan Spurlock is new to the big budget world of production but has garnered as much publicity as any of the best documentary filmmakers by his investigation of media issues. It would be hard to forget his satirical comment on American food consumption that was humorously presented in his 2012 Super Size Me. Having now produced 30 programs, mostly documentaries and directed 12, he was ready for this documentary and spent six months touring with the band. His documentary is sensitive to the band’s simple backgrounds and cautious to suggest anything more than wholesome living, happy attitudes and the best of good teen values. “Live While We’re Young” is probably their most famous song. It would have been a good name for the documentary but for now One Direction is going in just One Direction. To the top.
By Vicky Judah