The latest album from Cowell’s protégés kicks off with a worryingly sexist start. ‘Steal My Girl’ is not only musically disappointing (hardly surprising) but features the repeated refrain of “Everyone wants to steal my girl” and “Find another one/because she belongs to me”. Sorry lads, it doesn’t matter how bouncy your hair is but you don’t own anyone. More disturbingly possessive lyrics can be found in ‘Ready To Run’ with the desperate plea of “Don’t you wanna be mine?”. This recurring theme is particularly concerning given that 1D’s fanbase is made up of tween girls who herald the boys as a prototype for an ideal boyfriend.
Feminist rage aside, Four is both a nauseating (see tracks like ‘Fireproof’ and ‘18’ for vomit inducing sentiments including “These arms were made for holding you” alongside a disgustingly slow melody) and mediocre album. While One Direction seem to have attempted to develop their musical style to show that they’ve “grown” as artists, this is hardly an improvement. Their effort seems especially poor when compared to fellow pop star Taylor Swift, who just brilliantly parodied the media’s representation of her with ‘Blank Space’. Therefore, if you’re going to indulge in fluffy pop there are better places to look than a creepily manufactured boy band.
In some twisted world ‘Ready To Run’ can be seen to possess tenuous country influences. However, it’s hardly fair on the country genre to have One Direction associations foisted upon it. The track reveals some truly profound lyrics such as “I don’t wanna get lost in the dark of the night”. Fear not; this poignant lyricism comes as standard throughout the album. If you make it through the album in one go then you either deserve a medal and/or need to seriously question your life choices. One first-time listener described the urge to “rip off her ears” after a song and a half.
‘No Control’ is an attempt at an edgier image and even distorts the golden boys’ shiny vocals to make them sound slightly electronica-y. However, despite the odd tweaked song and the band members suddenly boasting a bunch of tattoos, it is hard to think of anyone less edgy.