First, there was Beatlemania. Then came Spicemania. Now, there's 1Dmonium.
In the two years since the troupe first charmed the universe after their third-place finish on "The X Factor" in 2010, One Direction have managed to usher in a U.K. boy band revolution (alongside The Wanted) and achieve worldwide recognition in a ridiculously short amount of time.
Last year, their hugely successful No. 1 debut record Up All Night spawned several hit singles, including "One Thing," "Gotta Be You," and of course, the worldwide smash "What Makes You Beautiful," which has since become one of the best-selling singles of all time. They've performed on "Saturday Night Live," embarked on a massive worldwide tour, killed it at the 2012 London Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony, and, oh yeah, at the 2012 VMAs. And tomorrow? They're taking it back full circle to perform in front of Britney Spears, Demi Lovato, L.A. Reid, and their original mentor, Simon Cowell, on the U.S. edition of "The X Factor."
Apart from sales, the boys have also earned themselves a rather, uh, dedicated fanbase. Go ahead, check the trending topics on Twitter: Is at least one all about 1D? Basically, yes.
Now, Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis (my personal 1D dreamboat -- luv u, bb!) are back for another round of fun with their punchy -- and ever-so-slightly sexier (!) -- sophomore studio album, Take Me Home, which was largely produced by the unstoppable Swede-pop duo Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub. But how does all it measure up? There's really only one way to effectively convey our emotions: GIFs. Well, and with some words. But mostly GIFs!
Read our track-by-track review of One Direction's Take Me Home after the jump!
1.) "Live While We're Young"
To kick off their second campaign, the boys turned to the original "What Makes You Beautiful" hitmakers (Falk & Yacoub) to funnel their debut's euphoric energy and channel it into yet another fist-pumping bout of guitar-led power pop. It's a sold slice of seize-the-moment fun -- or, as I like to refer to it, "carpe diem pop" -- that sees the boys (A) living, (B) getting some, and (C) remaining young. Not a bad way to go, really.
2.) "Kiss You"
"Kiss You" is an even punchier slice of power pop, featuring a kicking drum pulse, electric guitar licks, and some super-saccharine crooning ("And if you-u-u want me to-o-o/ let's make a mo-o-ove!"). And then, there's that game changer of a chorus, as the tempo suddenly slows into a laid-back chant (that doubles as the album's namesake): "If you don't want to take it slow and you just want to take me home/Baby, say ye-ee-ay-uh!" Quite the proposition, boys! Oh, and good luck getting that hook out of your brain for the next 4,000 years.
3.) "Little Things"
Taking down the BPM for a bit, 1D get real srsface on their Ed Sheeran-penned single, a stripped-down ballad about adoring all those quirky little things that make your lover... your lover. Those lyrics get a little too cringe-y at times ("You never want to know how much you weigh," YIKES), but I have a feeling that it'll hit just the right note for their intended audience -- all of whom will likely be reduced to a bucket of tears and tweets.
4.) "C'mon, C'mon"
"C'mon, C'mon" is a sparkling lil' electro-pop rock anthem, like a Carly Rae Jepsen track with a little punch. And the subject matter? Totally the stuff of teenage dreams (and '80s rom-coms). Just imagine: That hunk at the party brought someone else! She's a total flop. But he's been staring at you dancing there on your own (JUST LIKE ROBYN). And he's like, way into it. "The one that I came with didn't know how to move/ The way that you let your hair down... I can tell that you do," the boys tempt, before dancing the night away with YOU. Sweet dreams are made of these, indeed.
5.) "Last First Kiss"
They've already asked to kiss you once, and now they're not giving up anytime soon. "Last First Kiss" is a signature 1D midtempo, complete with a striding guitar-led power beat, crooned hooks, and a rather desperate plea of a chorus -- which the boys helped to cowrite: "I wanna be last, yeah/ Baby let me be your, let me be your last first kiss/ I wanna be first, yeah/ Wanna be the first to take it all the way like this." OH. Well. I see what you did there, 1D.
6.) "Heart Attack"
This'll likely be an instant fan fave, if nothing else but for a single "OW!" Striding across crunchy licks and serving P!nk-esque 'tude in the verses ("Baby, now that you're gone/ I can't stand dumb love songs"), the boys take their bruised egos and deliver a happy-go-lucky explosion of yelps ("OW!"), major guitar-led hooks, and of course, some swoon-tastic coos: "Never thought it'd hurt so bad, getting over yo-o-ou!" Cheer up, boys. Somehow I think you'll survive. OW!
7.) "Rock Me"
Unffff. This is the song. Well, maybe not THE song, but certainly a highlight. With a pounding pulse that screams Queen's "We Will Rock You"-lite (like, way lite), the Dr. Luke-produced track contains an unbelievably catchy bridge ("I used to think that I was better alone/ Why did I ever want to let you go?"), and a total pearl-clutcher of a chorus: "I want you to rock me, rock me, rock me," the boys chant endlessly. It's an instant earworm. "Do you remember Summer '09? Wanna go back there every night," Harry nostalgically croons of the top of the track. You know, I don't remember anything from Summer '09. Anyone care to refresh my memory? Louis?
8.) "Change My Mind"
The party's winding down, it's getting quite late, and the boys are having trouble figuring out what to do with themselves next: "Never felt like this before/ Are we friends, or are we more?/ As I'm walking towards the door, I'm not sure," Zayn dreamily croons off the top of the simple power ballad. It's a pleasant tune, and the crooning is beautiful, but would it really change anyone's mind? I'm not so sure.
9.) "I Would"
And we're back to the guitar-led power pop ditties! "Would he say he's in L-O-V-E?/ Well if it was me, then I would!" the boys croon on the song's rocky chorus. This is probably one of the more playful cuts from the record, especially when it comes to the lyrics: "I can't compete with your boyfriend/ he's got 27 tattoos!" Oh, Louis. You're so funny! Date me! No, but really. Do that.
10.) "Over Again"
Drifting along a lush guitar melody, the boys bring down the BPM once again to mend some broken hearts: "If you're pretending from the start like this with a tight grip/ Then my kiss can mend your broken heart," they croon. All the metaphors for being damaged goods might cause a wince or two ("Hole in the middle of my heart like a polo"), but the harmonies on this track are especially beautiful. "Little Things" might be the ballad getting all the love at the moment, but this is the album's dark horse.
11.) "Back For You"
1D might be a bunch of jet-setting superstars, but they're still always thinking about you (and only you!) on the road, girl: "Baby, you don't have to worry/ I'll be coming back for you," the guys solemnly swear atop the pop-rock song. Again, it's more of the same winning formula: guitar-led hooks, swoon-y croons in the chorus, and a kicking beat. Solid, if not altogether same-y.
12.) "They Don't Know About Us"
Kicking off atop a lovely piano melody, the us-against-the-world power ballad finds the boys defending their relationship, no matter what they say. (Not quite sure who the "they" are, but I'm assuming haters and/or parents.) "I bet you if they only knew/ they would only be jealous of us," the boys declare on the striding, triumphant tune. It's a pretty classic boy band anthem -- and it's all for you.
13.) "Summer Love"
Like summer vacation, "30 Rock," and the last sleeve of Oreos in the box, all good things must eventually come to an end. For the final track on 1D's second outing, the boys teamed up with "What Hurts The Most" songwriter Steve Robson for a sniffly back-to-school closer of their solid follow-up. The chorus is big and melodic ("You'll always be my summer love!"), and the guitar-led melody is gorgeous. "Just promise you'll remember when the sky is gray," Liam croons. I'LL NEVER FORGET, LIAM. NEVER.
Photo credit: PRNewsFoto/Columbia Records