Live review: One Direction, Time Warner Cable Arena, 6/27/2012



One Direction
Time Warner Cable Arena
June 27, 2012

Screams pierced my eardrums as I gazed awestruck at an army of on-the-verge-of-tears tweens crowding Time Warner Cable Arena on Wednesday night. I suddenly felt like I had gone back in time. Surely the cause of such a decibel level nearly rendering me deaf was due to a sighting of Taylor Hanson or Justin Timberlake popping and locking with 'N Sync, right?

Nope. It's 2012 and all this commotion is for the newest boyband to roll off the assembly line - One Direction. Aside from the group members getting younger and younger (and, in this case, British), times really haven't changed.

With what seemed like nearly identical infectious pop melodies, each One Direction song gave the boys a chance to sing a verse and hear the crowd scream their names. But the screams weren't necessarily for the amazing vocals, but more likely for whichever singer the crowd members considered to be the "cute one." Easy to understand, as each song they whipped out was about love: falling in love or crying over love. Pretty compelling stuff, and not changed in the slightest from the golden age.

Back in 1997, I was in the midst of one of the most thrilling times for boybands on MTV. Backstreet was back, Hanson was introducing the world to "MmmBop," and 'N Sync was giving me all the bubblegum pop my seven-year-old ears craved - with no strings attached.

Sigh. Those were the good old days. Oddly enough, the only one still going strong, and with some real musical merit, is Hanson. (OK, Justin Timberlake's made a pretty smooth transition.) But while five adorable young lads choreographing moves to songs like "Bye Bye Bye" were considered to be hip back then, the Hanson brothers haven't stood the test of time. Nor, thank God, have the trends they brought with them - most memorably the spiky hair gel and matching man suits.

Back then, I was wholeheartedly game, plastering my walls with posters ripped from Tiger Beat and printing out Internet pictures of my future husband, Zac Hanson. The times were filled with cheap, mass-produced pop, but as long as the vehicle it arrived in was in the form of cute teenage boys, I couldn't have cared less.

One Direction isn't bringing anything new to boyband pop. The group was put together by ex-American Idol judge Simon Cowell for his British equivalent, The X Factor. And One Direction follows a proud tradition: boyband members being hand-picked to make girls swoon (and to pick their parents' pockets). However, it's still surreal to see thousands of girls crying over the boys in One Direction as though they were The Beatles.

For me, the boyband days were over around high school, where newer, 'cooler' music awaited me. I'd left the pop boys of the past behind. And yet, here I stood, in a 2012 time warp, one among many, many, many, MANY screaming girls who were just now beginning their own boyband phase.

I saw girls with homemade shirts claiming their future boyband husbands - I did that.

Homemade signs with everything from marriage proposals to the generic "I love you" were waved like there was no tomorrow - I did that.

Throwing bras on the stage... Okay, my 7-year-old self never did that, but otherwise the scene was nearly identical to the boyband golden age I knew 15 years ago.

Things come full circle. The pandemonium that ensued when One Direction walked onstage is just like what happened when NSYNC appeared on TRL, or when the Backstreet Boys danced their way into arena spotlights every night. Heck, it was the same even when The Beatles and Stones hit the scene. Yes, this is nothing new.

The vehicle is always going to be different, but clearly boybands never die. They may be getting younger and younger (and, in the case of One Direction, less and less skilled; sorry girls, but 'NSync could dance AND sing!), but boybands aren't going to fizzle out anytime soon. So, you may as well go ahead and learn One Direction's names - Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson.

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