History has been riddled with epic battles and showdowns that entrance the nation and even the world. We’ve had the fight of the century with Frazier vs. Ali. We’ve had the ultimate presidential election that was destined to never end until it did when Al Gore took on George Bush. We were all torn between whether Jacob or Edward should end up with Bella. Now we are faced with another throw down of huge proportions as two of music’s biggest acts released their albums on the very same day: Friday the 13th, no less.
In one corner, we have One Direction, the factory-made boy band who went through a relatively rough year when the fifth direction (it’s been real Zayn) left to cut the band to a more practical “four directions.” They are releasing their fifth album, Made in the A.M., and recently announced this album would be their last before an extended hiatus, which has their fans acting as if the world was coming to an end. Subsequently the band is painting this album as a goodbye of sorts – not goodbye forever, but so long and thanks for all the fish.
In the other corner, we have the surprisingly still around, Justin Bieber. Bieber is midterm season – you think it’s over and gone, then it’s back again the following week and you realize it’s here to torment you forever. Bieber is in the midst of a comeback that literally no one saw coming. His pretty good feature on Skrillex and Diplo’s song “Where are Ü Now” finally put Bieber in the news for his music and he capitalized by releasing his catchy lead single “What Do You Mean” soon after.
Now, you may ask who even buys albums anymore? First of all, One Direction and Justin Bieber have the exact same demographic, and that audience of teenage girls does buy albums. Furthermore, the first week sales are the most important in getting the coveted number one album. The last time two major artists released their albums on the same day was back in 2007 when 50 Cent decided he could take on Kanye West (honestly, what was he thinking). The plan backfired: Kanye outsold 50 Cent easily and has taken over the world while 50 Cent is bankrupt. The winner is quite clear.
Will the loser in this battle turn to dust and wither away? Unlikely, since Harry Styles will make the move from factory boy band star to factory solo pop star within the year and Justin Bieber will unfortunately never disappear.
Frankly, neither Bieber nor One Direction are mostly known for their music, rather more so for their off-stage antics. Yet, the One Direction album is actually really good. Like something to actually listen to. Who knew? One Direction has had a couple of good songs in the past, though they had not topped their first song “What Makes You Beautiful” until last year’s “No Control,” which became one of the best songs of the year. The new album is filled with fun songs, such as the Beatles imitation “Olivia” and the upbeat and happy opener “Hey Angel.” There is even a contender with “No Control” for best 1D song with “History,” a campfire singalong about making the perfect toast to endings. Still, the album could have been helped by cutting five or six songs from the middle of the album.
On the other hand, the best way to describe Bieber’s new album is long, and not in a good way. The highlights are still “What Do You Mean” and “Where Are Ü Now.” However, “We Are” featuring Nas is pretty decent and has a nice message of being true to you. Nonetheless, Bieber’s voice still maintains its whiny, grating quality. This album could also use some cutting, preferably a lot of cutting.
Time will tell who wins the battle of the century, but it’s very clear that One Direction made the better album. Unfortunately, that’s not what matters these days. Like high school class presidential elections, this is a popularity contest. But in all honesty, you should save your money and wait a week for Adele’s new album.