Mangirling is a semi-regular feature that runs when the girls are too busy (lazy) to write their own posts, or when Johnny Rico feels the need to yell at the internet about something inconsequential (or totally consequential, in today’s case). Read on for this week’s rant…
When I first heard that One Direction was making another album for us I wondered how they would recover from the loss of Zayn’s songwriting skills… then I realized “oh ya, Zayn was the worst” and I moved my thinking on to wondering whether “Little Black Dress”, “Little Things”, or “Little White Lies” was a better little song. Many hours of wondering resulted in a decision… I, Johnny Rico, would produce the definitive ranking of all 89 One Direction Songs. DEFINITIVE!
A couple of notes on methodology: I listened to all songs until I got sick of them and would immediately assign them a letter grade (A through F), then wrote an insightful, humorous, or absurd comment about that song. I make no distinction between songs with the same letter grade until we get to the “A” songs, then it’s a countdown from 16 to 1. For all intents and purposes two songs rated as B- are of exactly the same quality. So, let’s get started shall we? From the worst to first, here it is: The Definitive Ranking of All 89 One Direction Songs!
F “Na Na Na”: It should be noted, I only listened to the live version of this song, but it is simply awful. Imagine burning spam and getting Gordon Ramsay’s opinion of your culinary offering. Blood garbage, an absolute donkey of a song, total low rent tripe. “We like na na na / we like ya ya ya”. Do better. Ugh. Just do better.
D- “Stockholm Syndrome”: Ugh. It’s not so much that this is just a bad song, it’s that I can’t figure out what they were trying to accomplish here. This is what happens when you let anti-vaxxers or mid 90s emo kids write pop music, I guess. But hey, if you like droning, depressing, and disturbed near-dance music, grab a near beer with a sociopath and head out for a night on the town.
D “Rock Me”: I had high hopes at the start for something that was going to turn the volume up to 11 and really rock. Sadly, I was mistaken. I really wanted to like “Rock Me”, but I didn’t. It left me at the altar dreaming of a better life. Sad.
D+ “Girl Almighty”: “Girl Almighty” is confusing, slightly frantic, and vaguely resembles a trip to LSD-town.
C- “End Of The Day”: Ugh. It’s like Free To Be You And Me‘s grandchildren started doing pop music. Killer guitar on the fade out kept this from getting a D.
C- “Gotta Be You”: Never ever trust a song that starts with, “Girl….” I wonder where the girl in question is now.
C- “Loved You First”: Never ever trust a song that starts with, “Girl….” What a minute….
C “Better Than Words”: This song seems stunted and just slightly short of accomplishing what it set out to do.
C “Change My Mind”: Was this song done by a tribute band doing a fan fiction version of “What Makes You Beautiful”?
C “Change Your Ticket”: Hey, even good albums need some peppy filler. I generally like upbeat and happy sounding songs, but “Change Your Ticket” is a ride to nowhere.
C “Still The One”: I-E-I-E-I know.
C “Summer Love”: It bothers me, probably a little too much, that this song follows “They Don’t Know About Us” on the album, it felt like a regression from song to song.
C “Taken”: I notice there was no line in this song that said, “sod off and never talk to me again – I’m taken”… just a general acknowledgment of the someone being in a “taken” situation. Whatever the involved parties decided to do with this “taken” information remains unclear.
C+ “Another World”: I’ll take you to “Another World”. Every day in every way. Yeah-eah.
C+ “Diana”: I wouldn’t name a song after a girl that already has a (better) song named after her. Unless you’re Justin Timberlake and actually pretending to be Michael Jackson, then you can “like the boys in the band” all you want.
C+ “I Wish” / “More Than This” / “Same Mistakes”: Inoffensive, but uninspiring ballads. As middle of the road as 1D can get. I guess I’m not a fan of the 1D ballads on Up All Night because I find them pointless to a certain extent. Just nice sounding songs that never get better than nice.
C+ “I Would”: I liked this song better the first time* when it was called “Teenage Dirtbag”. Go listen to Wheatus. The problem with this song is that it doesn’t resolve itself whereas Wheatus gets the girl and goes to an Iron Maiden concert; “I Would” simply ends with all of One Direction promising sweet nothings to the wind.
*This is a blatant rip off of a David Spade SNL line.
C+ “Illusion”: What happens if you believe in love and illusions? Would that invalidate this song? Don’t worry everyone, your pal Johnny Rico believes in illusions.
C+ “Little White Lies”: I can feeeeeeel the very clearly spoken – I mean – sung emotion coming through my ear buds and rattling around my head.
C+ “Olivia”: They tried for fun and frothy but missed and got lazy and childish.
C+ “Truly, Madly, Deeply”: Why did One Direction release a song exclusively to Australia with the same title as a smash 1996 hit from Australian pop duo Savage Garden? Brilliant marketing?
C+ “Wolves”: In another era this song would have been a hit lounge song by The Captain and Tenille. Look it up.
B- “Back For You”: This is a good, but not great, song from Take Me Home. I can’t really find any fault with it, I just don’t find myself really enjoying it.
B- “Fool’s Gold”: A sweet sounding song that’s not so innocent. Do yourself a favor and listen to 1D’s albums in order from oldest to newest. You’ll be shocked by how much they’ve matured in almost every aspect. I upgraded this song twice after listening to it three times.
B- “Infinity”: Odd choice for a song title considering this album may be the end of One Direction… I know, I know, they’re on hiatus and any talk that they’re done FOREVER is strictly verboten, but I can’t help but notice there are many songs on Made in the A.M. that seem to have a certain finality to them. In any event, this isn’t a great song.
B- “Irresistible”: I resisted this song. Somehow.
B- “Long Way Down”: It’s a shame we won’t see an A.M. Tour. 1D, with this album, now has the tunes to bring down the mood during the middle of the set. Great for guys to get beer and even better for women who want to have a feel.
B- “Nobody Compares”: There’s nothing right or wrong about this song. It’s a middling effort on an album that is pretty average top to bottom.
B- “Save You Tonight”: Aside from the whole “I’m going to save you from some other dude simply by being a clearly superior dude” bit of self-aggrandizing One Direction does here, this is a good song.
B- “Something Great”: Something Great? More like, something just ok. Amirite? I’m right, you don’t have to tell me.
B- “Spaces”: The average song on Four is so much better than the average song on Up All Night. This here is an average song from Four.
B- “Stole My Heart”: I have mixed feelings on this one. I like the beat and I don’t mind the song, but I can’t tell if someone is screwing with the volume on purpose or just to screw with my expectations. Is this song a rollercoaster or a rocket ship to the moon?
B- “Tell Me A Lie”: One Direction turns up the beat and the bass and does a fair to middling job at rocking. It’s what “Rock Me” could have been, but clearly wasn’t.
B- “Walking In The Wind”: People who know me know I like to predict the future. People who know I like to predict the future will not like what this song causes me to predict. They’re not getting back together for a long time. Oh sure, they’ll do it in 20 years when in London and LA for a metric tonne of cash, but it’s over.
B- “Why Don’t We Go There”: This song seems, ummm, a little concerning. Not quite like “Blurred Lines” levels of concern, buuuuut there’s clearly some third wave coercion going on here.
B- “You & I”: Nice ballad, but unremarkable. Although any song would struggle following “Midnight Memories”.
B “18”: I wonder what would happen if Jerry Lewis, Jerry Lawler, or Roman Polanski wrote this song. You know what? Never mind, don’t look it up, it’s not important. I like this ballad. It fills me with hope for both the future and the past.
B “C’mon C’mon”: This is a better version of “Tell Me A Lie”.
B “Don’t Forget Where You Belong”: The first time I ever heard this song was while preparing this DEFINITIVE ranking of all 93 One Direction songs. Good tune, I enjoyed it.
B “Fireproof”: Such a harmonious chorus. Nobody does power rankings the way I do ?. Tee hee. See what I did there messing up the lyrics to talk about myself? I should be paid for this banter.
B “Hey Angel”: You know the song the back-up band plays before the lead singer and well-known guitarist take the stage at a concert to build the mood? That’s this song. It makes me wonder what a One Direction concept album would sound like.
B “I Should’ve Kissed You”: A good song and good advice for boys.
B “Last First Kiss”: I’m vaguely bothered that 2 of the first 5 songs on Take Me Home included the word “kiss”: in the title. “Last First Kiss” isn’t as good as “Kiss You” in the “Kiss” song power ranking, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad.
B “Little Things”: …and now the boys go all acoustic… They sound so nice and sweet and the lyrics are so nice and sweet, but saying she doesn’t like her “dimples and thighs” might be a little too on point.
B “Love You Goodbye”: Honest question, I’m asking for a friend: So, uh, is 1D saying goodbye to a girl and asking for break up sex or letting us fans down gently?
B “Magic”: This song needed a bit more love and a chance. It could have been a contender.
B “One Thing”: It starts with one thing and I don’t know why, it doesn’t even matter how hard you try ?. “One Thing” builds from a slow start to an above average song with a strong, but repetitive chorus. Early 1D suffered (very little, evidentially) from this.
B “She’s Not Afraid”: 50 Shades of 1D? Oh no wait, she’s just not afraid of attention and scary movies. Carry on.
B “Stand Up”: I feel like this was meant to be an anthem and just missed its mark. There’s no shame in that.
B “Temporary Fix”: I’d like to hear someone mash this up with “Girl Almighty”. I think it’s the same song, but with more casual sex.
B “Through The Dark”: I feel like this would have been one of the top 4 songs on any One Direction album not called Midnight Memories. It’s got a great baseline driving the song forward.
B “Up All Night”: I would have named this album “Moments”.
B “What A Feeling”: This won’t appear on any future Greatest Hits album, but I like it and it seems to sum up some sort of thought One Direction is trying to get across throughout the entirety of Made In The A.M.
B+ “Clouds”: I would love to hear a DJ get hold of this song and put a massive drop in. It’s probably by design, but this track seems to always be building itself up, but never getting anywhere… just like the clouds. Savvy.
B+ “Does He Know?”: It’s like listening to an above average Cars song, except it’s about stalking. Actually, it’s like listening to an above average Cars song.
B+ “Everything About You”: The lyrics aren’t great and neither is the music, but it’s fun electronic pop. So enjoy it, dammit.
B+ “Happily”: Vaguely Mumford and Sons sounding. Hey ho?
B+ “Heart Attack”: At first I rated this song as a generic epileptic seizure, but I think heart attack may be warranted.
B+ “History”: There’s an obscure reference to a 1970s song I want to make here, but I can’t pull it. Yet. It’ll come. Stay tuned for updates because it’ll blow your mind (It won’t blow your mind).
Update: England Dan & John Ford Coley – I’d Really Love To See You Tonight. That’s as close as I can get. I hope you enjoyed that journey as much as I did. Whew.
B+ “I Want To Write You A Song”: If you really wanted to write me a song it would have to go on the next album.
B+ “If I Could Fly”: Oh man, if I had feelings and something really bad happened like <redacted> or my favorite band decided to break up and go on infinite hiatus this would be the song I cried myself to sleep with. Well, this song, wine, and Ativan. Mmmmm Ativan.
B+ “Live While We’re Young”: The shame about living while you’re young is that it’ll make you old. Although, you’re going to get old anyway, so whatever. Live away.
B+ “Moments”: Let’s see, who wrote this very good song… Oh, it was Ed Sheeran.
B+ “Never Enough”: If One Direction debuted this song with a cameo on Pitch Perfect 3 I know three women that would lose their collective minds. Literally. I’m not even kidding. They would turn into pudding and happily live the rest of their lives on the theater floor humming this song.
B+ “No Control”: I remember back when *NSYNC released an album called No Strings Attached because they were now totally independent musicians. Of course, that was their second album and it shot them out of Backstreet’s shadow and launched Justin Timberlake in the Britney-killing mega-star we all know and love.
B+ “Once In A Lifetime”: Can you imagine recording your 50th song about this particular subject and having the unmitigated balls to call it “Once in a Lifetime”? The hubris! Too bad it’s a good song.
B+ “Over Again”: I think One Direction owes Ed sheeran a favor or two. I mean, he wrote some of the best early songs and word is that one of them stole his lady friend…
B+ “Right Now”: The Van Halen version of “Right Now” was the song behind the launch of Crystal Pepsi. Fact. When 90’s kids claim to be nostalgic for Crystal Pepsi they’re full of crap. Crystal Pepsi was undrinkable syrupy garbage. Fact. Also, McDonalds pizza was inedible cardboardy garbage. Fact.
B+ “Steal My Girl”: The lyrics to this strong song are pretty awful. Warning! Incoming digression… Gentlemen, I need to converse with you for just a moment; ladies please cover your ears for 35 seconds so the men can talk. Men, if you’re spending your time worrying about some other dude “stealing your girl” that is a “self-fulfilling prophecy”. It will happen. The only way to keep a girl is to walk through life knowing you have nothing to worry about because why would anyone be able to steal a girl from you? And then acting accordingly. Furthermore, if some dude steals your girl, it’s for the best and you should move the hell on. Or use a really strong chain and some solid surveillance equipment. Either works. Ladies, welcome back! Don’t worry, I didn’t say anything inappropriate while you were gone.
B+ “Strong”: It’s a strong song.
B+ “Where Do Broken Hearts Go”: Broken hearts usually go to the pizza store, liquor store, and a couch. In that order. Eventually they settle down and get their lives together and move on. Hearts are stupid and should not be trusted.
(16) A- “Ready To Run”: Coincidentally, this is a great driving tune. If you want to feel what the 70s were about, plug this song into your eight track player and drive your wildly fuel inefficient car really fast down an empty highway whilst drinking a can of really crappy beer**.
**Do not do this. Drinking and driving is illegal and bad and wrong and will turn you into a social pariah. Despite a myriad of problems with its enforcement (how does breath measure blood and, you know, the constitution prohibiting unlawful searches) you are better off not drinking and driving nor drinking then driving.
(15) A- “Kiss You”: Every time I h-h-hear I want to drink a b-b-beer. Back say y-y-yeah. And let me kiss you.
(14) A- “Act My Age”: This speaks to me for some reason, but never mind that. How fun is this song? Joyous 60s pop with a touch of Irish rock and bar-room chanting. My only issue is the line “when I’m fat and old” because getting fat is a choice, old is not.
(13) A- “Little Black Dress”: This shouldn’t be a good song. Really. There’s almost no musical variety, it’s slow, and the boys sort of just chant in time with the music, buuuuut it works. It’s got a bit of the early 80s and The Cars (right down to the 2:30 run time and unfinished fade-out), which certainly doesn’t hurt.
(12) A- “Alive”: A One Direction party rock anthem? Turn it up and bring it on! WOOOOO!
(11) A- “Perfect”: This is the single toughest grade to give in the entire One Direction catalog because of the Taylor Swift “Style” mashup. If Taylor releases a single in response to this song and we get a pop music version of Ice Cube vs NWA or Drake vs Meek Mill, “Perfect” shoots way up.
(10) A- “They Don’t Know About Us”: I really enjoy songs that build throughout. “They Don’t Know About Us” starts with a simple piano opening and builds to a crescendo for the entire song before tying everything together with a tiny little bow with 10 seconds of simple piano at the end. Smart song-making.
(9) A- “Drag Me Down”: If you speed this song up and angrily shout the lyrics it turns into a song that’ll make me want to run through a damn brick wall.
(8) A- “I Want”: I REALLY dig this song. The start of “I Want” is a straight up throwback to the early era of Beatles songs. It then kicks back and forth between that and 70s style Queen. If you’re going to be a British boy band I need and demand a song like this.
(7) A- “Half A Heart”: Squeeeeee. I can just hear the fangirls squealing down there in the 8th row, 2 seats off the aisle. It’s like someone distilled 1D meth and slowed it down by just a split second. Which scientists did and boom! “Half A Heart” was invented.
(6) A “A.M.”: I think KG’s overly emotional post summarized the fangirl reaction to this song with emotion. So much emotion. This is likely the end, ladies and mostly just ladies, for One Direction. As a great show once said in going off the air, “All good things…”. Frankly I think One Direction will follow that show’s post-finale arc with spinoffs, and movies. Except musicians have solo projects and reunions. As far as the power rankings go I fear I rated this one way too high out of nostalgia.
(5) A “What Makes You Beautiful”: Solid, but juvenile pop music. The seeds of greatness are certainly here, but the boys have not yet attained “man” status. Mantus? Something like that. I’m not sure One Direction becomes a rocket ship to the moon without this song. “What Make You Beautiful” is that good and is that important.
(4) A “Night Changes”: The shocking this about “Night Changes” is how restrained it is. A simple story is told, in an understated manor, that allows the journey to take a front seat ahead of the lyrics, music, and even the boys. This may be the first song One Direction has done that is more than the sum of its parts. Also, the video is a fantastic concept.
(3) A “Best Song Ever”: I think if I ever do a list of catchiest One Direction songs, this one tops the list. It’s like the boy band version of Jack Black’s Tribute. “Best Song Ever“ barely misses on its lofty goal for itself by only the thinnest of margins.
(2) A+ “Story of My Life”: If Mumford & Sons released this song it would have sold fewer copies, but had much better critical reviews. Believe that, haters. I’ll put this song up against any darling indy track that’s earned a counter-culture following and expect the manufactured One Direction to win.
(1) A++ “Midnight Memories”: And here we are, the absolute cream of the crop. As I’m sure you all know, I write a monthly wrestling column here on My Fangirl Life and in the wrestling world you tell who matters by the “pop” a wrestler receives when they walk out unexpectedly. When “Midnight Memories” started at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Canada on July 21st, 2015 the place POPPED, to a bigger level than anything ACDC got a month later (both nights were rainy and miserable, for the record). This song is easily the best One Direction song and it’s probably the best boy band song of all time. “Midnight Memories” is well made, well crafted, and strongly performed by a superstar group at the very height of their powers. This is the song I use to justify One Direction to outsiders. It has a killer chorus, killer hook, killer verses, and combines into a killer song with a nice bluesy feel. “Midnight Memories” wins and you’re wrong if you disagree because I’m moving forward, so don’t look back baby follow me.
And there you have it, the definitive list of all 89 One Direction songs from across their 5 albums. Tell me what you agree with and, more importantly, tell me what you disagree with. My rankings, although definitive, are completely subjective. Let’s talk in the comments!
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