Standoms Music Pop Culture

It’s been a full decade and One Direction still gives me butterflies in my stomach

Somehow, someway, One Direction turned ten this week.

Yes, ten. And, at 21 years old myself, I’m not quite sure when time managed to escape mebecause in my head I am still 13 writing fanfiction in my room, hanging up posters from Rolling Stone of the band on a beach, and having my heart literally melt because of the way that Harry Styles shakes his hair out of his eyesbut it is right now, in this moment, that I feel as if I’ve crashed headfirst into unwarranted adulthood. As if the rug has been pulled out from underneath me. Damn.

Ten years is a very, very long time. A lot can happen within a single decadein fact, a lot did happen. We’ll get to more on that later, but it is important to say first that I am starkly nostalgic of those times, which now seem to be reminiscent of the most incredible joy and comfort. It seemed as if the mind, body, and spirit of every single Directioner somehow operated on the same wavelength—and heartbeat. I always loved the idea that we all, as a collective, validated one another’s thoughts or commentary and found community in adoration. Looking back, being part of a fandom like this one was surely a bit of necessary respite in a time of awkwardness, petty teenage relationships, and deceit. 

Of course, there are other things too. For starters, it is common practice to associate things like personal style, music, cinema, and clothing to be both obvious and meaningful stakeholders of culture—which certainly helps in the case of any band or musician. Think of Michael Jackson’s moonwalk or Elton John’s sunglasses. Those are things you will never forget, or that you will even cherish. The kind of things that you can point out from a mile away. The kind of things that seem to transcend time and place—that sort through all of the randomness and bring you back to that one perfect moment or feeling. For One Direction, at least to me, it’s their silhouettes and boyish laughs. But also, it’s their evolution from shaggy hair, varsity jackets, khaki pants, suspenders, and striped T-shirts to slick black suits, skinny jeans, assortments of tattoos, and wide brim fedoras all the while maintaining a charming sense of self. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking—she’s obsessed! And, while that is a true statement, I am not just saying these things as a fangirl. Trust me, I’ve fallen in ‘love’ with my fair share of boy bands (insert the Jonas Brothers, 5 Seconds of Summer, and Big Time Rush here) but nobody, and I mean nobody, compares to One Direction. So, although this might seem like a stretch for most people, One Direction defined a generation. And, they defined it in a way that moved way beyond the capabilities and limitations of music.

There is no denying the enormity of the impact and that One Direction had, whether you are a fan or not. It is clear as day. 

However, it is quite important to note that their career as a band was not always a linear feat. As most people know, they weren’t always a band. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson each started off as solo artists, all under 25 years old, on the X-Factor UK. On July 23, 2010 Simon Cowell, the notorious judge of the talent competition, pulled the 5 boys together and gave them the chance of a lifetime. By the time they rounded out the competition, One Direction wound up in third place and backed by Cowell’s record label, Syco. Right off the bat their first singles as a band toppled charts across every single continent. Quite literally, their Na na na‘s could be heard world-wide, which is nothing short of a testament to the stardom that they soon would face. Not to mention the frenzy of fans, media, and paparazzi that quickly surrounded the boys which in hindsight seems like an all-encompassing storm. It was a non-stop cycle of album making, global touring, countless 24-hour long live-streams and video diaries commemorating their relationship with fans, along with goofy realness that made them immensely crush-worthy. 

Fast-forwarding a bit, One Direction managed to accomplish a ton while in the limelight. In 2011, the band’s debut album Up All Night shot to #1 overnight and stayed there, making them the first UK group to peak at #1 in the US with a debut album. In addition, they were the first group to debut at #1 with their first four albums in the US: Up all Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, and Four. In 2012, the band performed at the Olympics closing ceremony in London. By 2013, the group produced and released two concert documentaries titled One Direction: This Is Us and One Direction: Where We Are. In 2014, Billboard announced One Direction Artist of the Year. Altogether, the band has sold more than 70 million records worldwide. In addition, they’ve taken home 16 MTV awards, 154 awards in other isolated categories, and have been nominated for 317 awards in total. Plus, they have sold over 8,287,195 tickets on their tours.

On March 25, 2015 Zayn Malik, 22 years old at the time, left the band during the One The Road Again tour citing a need for normalcy and some time out of the spotlight. Speculations have risen since then about the real reason behind his leaving the band, including episodes of discrimination based on his religion and music style. The other boys continued on and produced the Made in the A.M. album that same year. The band never toured with this album and announced that they too would be going on a hiatus in January of 2016. All 5 members have gone on to maintain remarkable solo careers while holding on tight to their roots in One Direction. The most successful being Harry Styles, an undeniable international heartthrob and sensation.

So far, there has been no serious mention of a reunion in the near future, but hey, miracles do happen! Based on their social media presence on the day of their 10 year anniversary, the boys seem as amicable, genuine, and grateful as they were a decade ago.

Within their record-breaking career before entering a hiatus, the quintet managed to reaffirm what a boy band means all the while establishing their unique and notable brand. These are heavy, even monumental, footsteps to fill.

So, no, One Direction is not just a measly boy band. At incredibly young ages, they were thrust into a world of not so subtle adoration and managed to produce worthwhile music for a loyal, dedicated, fanbase. They changed my life in the best way. Let’s give credit where credit is due and grant them the celebration that they so desperately deserve.

Happy 10 Years of One Direction! 


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Music Pop Culture

Here’s how BTS is redefining what it means to be a (wildly popular) boyband

For a generation that grew up through the digital evolution – from Walkman to portable CD players to iPods to smartphones – music has always been an integral and accessible part of our lives.

Music often speaks where mere words don’t suffice and it can speak volumes. A good song can sometimes say exactly what you need to hear in a moment, giving voice to our own mess of emotions. The boyband phenomenon is a curious part of this. Mostly because they are not often known for being particularly poignant, despite having fun, catchy music.

That’s partly what makes the BTS invasion so interesting: even though BTS qualifies perfectly as a boyband, their impact on to our generation is inescapable.

Unless you’ve spent the past year or so under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the Korean group Bangtan Sonyeondan, a seven-member group that is not-so-secretly out for world domination. (I’m joking—mostly.) Their latest album dropped at the beginning of the summer and they’re everywhere these days.

BTS isn’t a new group, though. They’ve been around for five years now, making great music from the beginning.

But the response to them has definitely changed recently.

Suddenly, they’re being hailed globally as “the biggest boy band in the world” — no Korean or K-Pop attached. For a band that sings and raps mostly in Korean and has only one member fluent in English, this scale of global popularity is an insane achievement. Whether you, like me, were introduced to them by a friend or you encountered them randomly on the internet, it’s hard to escape the hype. And it’s no mystery why.

As artists, they seem to be defying the quantity-to-quality ratio by consistently churning out both, and even the language barrier proves to be a negligible obstacle. Diligent translators in the fan army constantly produce translations for the band’s constant stream of content.

Fans of BTS’s music span from John Legend to John Cena.

[Image description: BTS members V, RM and Jin are pictured (L-R) speaking to an interviewer. RM is saying, “It's a true miracle for us.”]
[Image description: BTS members V, RM and Jin are pictured (L-R) speaking to an interviewer. RM is saying, “It’s a true miracle for us.”] Attribution:
What sets the septet apart is that their music is created with significant input from the actual band members rather than industry professionals. In a world where popular music is usually characterized by company-produced generic lyrics, pop beats, and love songs, BTS dare to be different. A single message prevails throughout their oeuvre of work, no matter what the individual album’s theme is.

BTS are not saying bye bye bye, they don’t want it that way and they don’t think you don’t know you’re beautiful. No, their message is much more universal: love yourself.

Frankly, that’s unexpected, especially for a boyband that is essentially classified as K-pop. Yes, they’re great dancers and vocalists, but that is to be expected. Many actually consider the genre infamous for its formulaic sound and reliance on aesthetics, which means that BTS’s storytelling technique and diverse subject matter stand out.

[Image description: All 7 members of BTS are pictured accepting their second Billboard Music Award. Their leader RM is giving a speech, saying, “Some of our fans told us that our music really changed their lives.”] Attribution:
[Image description: All 7 members of BTS are pictured accepting their second Billboard Music Award. Their leader RM is giving a speech, saying, “Some of our fans told us that our music really changed their lives.”] Attribution:
They’re not just singing about sex or finding love or what they find attractive in a girl.

No, BTS address subjects like the education system, social conventions, individual ambition and expectations, self-love, capitalism and criticism.

Their chart-topping single Fake Love, for example, tackles the importance of being true to oneself when it comes to love. Another example is their latest single, Epiphany, which focuses on loving yourself, despite your imperfections. Subjects like these are unconventional in mainstream music, but they’re also incredibly important to this audience.

For a lot of millennials, identity has become something we actively question and consider. The fact that BTS fit into this narrative – that they too are young millennials questioning identity and writing good music about it – is an integral ingredient in the recipe to their success.

And it does work. With verses rich in metaphor and meaning, the quality of their work speaks for itself beyond the language barrier. Countless fans across the world attribute the band and their music to actively helping them deal with personal difficulties and mental health issues.

Their impact speaks to and for this generation.

They are now creating music that is gender non-specific and consulting feminist feedback for their lyrics. Members of BTS have shown repeatedly that they are willing to learn from their mistakes and improve constantly, an effort that stands out particularly when it comes to their racial awareness.

[Image description: Tyra Banks is pictured gesturing emphatically and saying, “I'm recovering from BTS, still.”] Attribution:
[Image description: Tyra Banks is pictured gesturing emphatically and saying, “I’m recovering from BTS, still.”] Attribution:
The resulting package is definitely a group that has redefined what the label of “boyband” entails. BTS go above and beyond that, creating music that speaks to people of every age and identity.

Their discography definitely comprises of some major jams, but it also has something important to say. BTS means more than cool music: it’s seven average dudes from Korea who are speaking to people around the globe.

And if that isn’t the essence of globalization, I don’t know what is.

Music Pop Culture

15 things that happen when you’re head over heels in love with BTS

If you’re on the internet, then you know BTS. BTS are a South Korean septet and they have a massive fanbase called the A.R.M.Y. (Adorable Representative MC for Youth). A.R.M.Y.s are everywhere on the internet and around the world because BTS are quite a big deal (in case you didn’t already know).

Now, while being an A.R.M.Y. is a lot of fun, it’s also a real struggle when you’re an international A.R.M.Y. Here’s how:

1. You can’t stick to a bias – is that even a thing when it comes to BTS?


This is a universal struggle, no matter, if you’re a K-A.R.M.Y. or an international A.R.M.Y., choosing a bias, is so hard because all seven of them are so cute, adorable, talented, handsome, funny, and the list never really ends, so… 

2. You’re always calculating KST (Korean Standard Time) when they announce literally anything


Because you never know what they’ll drop, when, and you don’t want to miss a single thing, obviously…

3. You’re always searching “BTS (video name) eng subs” on YouTube


Or else you will end up watching 20 minutes of them talking/singing in Korean, not understanding a thing, but laughing along every time someone laughs in the video. 

4. Hearing “But they all look the same” when you tell people you love BTS


The blatant racism isn’t amusing anymore, y’all.

5. The fact that BTS is all you think about now – 24/7


You eat, sleep, dream, walk, talk, drink, cry – you live BTS. And you have absolutely no regrets about it. This is regardless of whether you’re a Korean A.R.M.Y. or international – they are always on your mind.

6. When people say “You don’t even understand what they’re saying” and think you’ll actually stop loving the boys just because you don’t know Korean


Okay, here’s the deal – you think music has a language? Because we’re here to tell you that it really doesn’t. Music transcends language, location, and any other mundane barriers that you think are relevant here because we love the boys regardless. 

7. Not knowing when #ArmySelcaDay is because everyone posts according to their own timezone and you don’t know what’s real and what’s not anymore


You think it’s on Monday but people are already posting their selfies and it’s still Sunday, so you post your selfie too and then suddenly, it’s Tuesday and people are still posting selfies so you don’t even know what’s happening anymore. Are we even here? Are BTS even real? Am I real? (The second one is still up for debate, though.)

8. Watching their live streams (without subtitles) and just staring at their faces


You’ll admire the beauty, you’ll love what you’re watching, but won’t understand a thing! But you’ll still go along with it. And then later, you’ll watch the same live stream with subtitles, and understand what was actually going on. #typical

9. Using misunderstood BTS lyrics videos on YouTube to memorize the Korean lyrics


“Wonhae money money” is just one of the few gems you’ve found through this process. It’s always a really good laugh and you actually end up learning the Korean lyrics because if you tried learning the romanized version, you know it’d take you a lifetime.

10. Being envious of K-ARMYs forever because they get to see/meet the boys (multiple numbers of times)


All those cute fan signs, meet and greets, concert pictures make you so jealous, it’s unreal. Especially since you don’t know when they’ll come to your country – if at all they do.

11.  When people say stuff like “You only love them because they’re good looking”


Hate to burst your bubble but, we actually love them for their hilarious AF personalities – the good looks are just an added advantage. 

12. Freaking out for real when BTS are played on your local radio station/music channel


You can’t believe this is actually happening because you are just not used to your local radio stations recognizing true talent.

13. Knowing (a little too much) about Korean culture because well….


Let’s just say we’re all cultural connoisseurs who are genuinely curious about Korean culture? *sly smiles all around*

14. Wanting the people around you to find out about them but also, you kind of wish they didn’t


It’s a constant struggle because you love the fact that they’re your own little secret and you don’t have to share them with anybody, but also, having someone to fangirl with won’t be the worst thing in the world.

15. Struggling to purchase the official merchandise because the shipping charges are basically your worst nightmare


Like, listen – we love these boys and we want everything we possibly can have related even remotely to them but we’re all going to end up super broke by the end of this. Then again, our love for the boys is irrevocable (and incorrigible) so, oh well… 

So while we love the boys and being an A.R.M.Y., it truly isn’t one of the easiest things in the world. Nevertheless, it’s definitely one of the most fun.

Music Pop Culture

The BTS boys are about to become your new pop obsession

The only way you wouldn’t know about BTS is if you’ve been living under a rock for all of 2017. The South Korean septet has been around since 2013 but 2017 has marked a milestone year for their success internationally. We can all agree that they are on a path to truly take over the world.

BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan or Beyond The Scene) is a K-pop group comprising of seven (majestic) boys who will make you swoon with their talent, visuals, and personalities. The group comprises of Rap Monster (Kim Namjoon – Main Rapper and Leader), Jin (Kim Seokjin – Vocalist and Visual), Suga (Min Yoongi – Lead Rapper), J-Hope (Jung Hoseok – Lead Rapper, Main Dancer), Jimin (Park Jimin – Lead Dancer and Lead Vocalist), V (Kim Taehyung – Vocalist), and Jungkook (Jeon Jeongguk –  Main Vocalist, Lead Dancer, Sub Rapper, Center, and Maknae).

When I say talent, I mean it – these boys have a humungous amount of it. They will dance, sing, and rap their way into your hearts and before you know it – you’ll be on YouTube watching all their Bangtan Bombs.

BTS has created a bridge into the K-pop world for many international fans. Lately, they’ve won a number of coveted awards such as the Melon Music Awards, MTV EMA, Mnet Asian Music Awards, and Teen Choice Award. However, their win at the Billboard Music Awards is what has caught everyone’s attention for good.

They won Top Social Artist this year, an award that Justin Bieber has been winning for the past six years. This was a huge win for BTS as it created an international fan base explosion. Because of this, their latest EP, “Love Yourself: HER” has broken a number of records worldwide.

Their most popular song, “DNA” has become the highest charting Hot 100 title in the Billboard charts by any K-pop group, ever (NBD). While these twenty-somethings continue making history, the real reason behind their success lies in their visual presentations, their personalities, and the relationship they share with their fans.

Their visual presentations have caught the eyes of even non-fans from the very beginning as the aesthetics of their music video’s are absolutely stunning combined with raw, hard-hitting lyrics that are relatable and beautiful at the same time.

It is truly fascinating that all their albums have a deep underlying theme running throughout them, supported with highlight reels that have the aesthetic of short films. And these concepts are nothing less than artistic masterpieces, in all honesty.

Besides their musical and visual excellence, the group’s social media presence and fan interactions continue to catch some serious attention.

Despite all their triumphs, the boys come across as very grounded in their interviews, press events, etc. They have a ludicrous sense of humor (seen in Bangtan Bombs and interviews) that has given rise to a number of inside jokes within their fandom. We call ourselves the BTS A.R.M.Y. (Adorable Representative M.C for Youth). The bond that BTS shares with their fans only gets stronger with time.

I might sound biased when I say this but becoming a fan of BTS is probably one of the best things that has happened to me. I’ve always been a fangirl (think Justin Bieber, One Direction, superheroes – I’m into it all). But the way BTS has enchanted me has been completely different.

Their personalities appeal to me more than their stage presence. They seem genuine and real – just a bunch of guys in their twenties working hard together and having fun – and that’s what I love about them. They make it easy to be a hardcore fan when they are so admirable.

In a lot of ways, BTS is paving the way for more Korean artists to make their way into “mainstream” music and break barriers- with their visuals, lyrics, and stage performances, unlike Western artists.

If this means stepping away from the conventional music we’re used to, and being exposed to the conceptual artistry in the Korean music industry, it is definitely something to look forward to.

If you’re not a fan of BTS yet, then it’s only a matter of time before these seven handsome young men take over your life (like they did mine). So hold on tight, my friend (and potential A.R.M.Y.), it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Music Pop Culture

Where in the world are One Direction?

There have been many bands which have survived a break. To name a few, Fall Out Boy, Backstreet Boys, Foo Fighters have all gotten back together even after fans had all but given up hope!

When One Direction announced their decision to take a hiatus in November 2015, their fans understandably had a lot of questions about what this meant for the band. The news brought frenzied Directioners to social media contemplating how long the break would last or if maybe, this was it?

However, the band remained adamant that they will indeed get back together after pursuing their interests as solo artists.

1. Harry Styles

Apart from a few paparazzi shots, he made no updates on social media or gave interviews anywhere.

However, since then, Harry Styles is set to appear in Christopher Nolan’s big budget World War 2 epic titled “Dunkirk“. He will be starring alongside Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance and more. The movie premieres world wide on July, 21st 2017.

And if you thought that was all Harry did since the hiatus, you were very wrong. Harry recorded and released an entire self titled album on May 12 this year. The album has been massively successful and is very different from the music Harry made as part of One Direction.

His first single from the album was “Sign of the Times”, which was a massive hit. Harry subsequently released a music video for the song which was incredibly aesthetically pleasing. But then again, we would expect nothing less from Harry!

Apart from that Harry has kept very busy promoting his album. The best of it was his week long stint at the “Late Late Show with James Corden” where he was part of many skits as well as participating in a glorious edition of Carpool Karaoke.

Oh and just as a side note, Harry is going to be doing a world tour of the album come 2018! You can find out where he is performing here.

2. Niall Horan

And we must protect him at all costs. There is a running gag within the fandom that only Niall is loyal to One Direction and truly dedicated to getting the band back together. That being said, Niall has kept busy with his career.

Niall has so far released two singles, “This Town” and “Slow Hands”. He was the first one from the boys to release music after the hiatus began as he released “This Town” on September, 29th 2016. Followed with a release of “Slow Hands” on May, 4th 2017. If you are a One Direction fan and knew Niall even a little bit, you will agree that his music sounds exactly how you would expect it to sound.

He has been promoting his two singles non-stop with appearances on talk shows and live performances. Most recently appearing on the “Tonight Night Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” doing an Instant Song Challenge and just projecting his all round cinnamon roll goodness for all of us to enjoy.

3. Louis Tomlinson

When One Direction announced their hiatus and discussed their individual plans for their time off, Louis said his top priority would be to spend time with his son Freddie Tomlinson. However, that is not the only thing Louis has been up to.

He released a song titled “Just Hold On” with international DJ Steve Aoki on 10th December 2016 just 3 days after his mother Johannah Deakin lost her battle to cancer. The song was dedicated to her by Louis and he gave an emotional performance of the song on X-Factor UK’s finale on the same day the song debuted.

There was not a dry eye in the venue.

Louis also released an official music video for the song which is has a lot of symbolism.

Louis also guest judged on a few episodes X-Factor UK as well as America’s Got Talent with his good friend Simon Cowell.

4. Liam Payne

Unless you were living under a rock, you probably know that Liam has been in a relationship with Cheryl Cole for a little over a year and already has a son with his lady-love who they named Bear Payne.

He just recently released his first single with Quavo titled “Strip That Down” after months of teasing fans with snippets of the songs and snapshots of himself in the studio. And earlier this month Liam also released the music video for the song which was a little more risque than the usual fare from One Direction.

Oh and spolier: Liam danced in the music video and it was as glorious as you would imagine it to be!

If you listen closely Liam sings in the song’s chorus

“You know I used to be in 1D (now i’m out free)”

You might find solace in the fact that whenever the boys are asked about the One Direction reunion, they promise that it will take place; the date may be undecided but it will happen. Till then, we can only support the boys and enjoy their individual pursuits.