Words: Baylee Avery
It’s been ten years since One Direction released their iconic debut album, Up All Night, and we’re still not entirely over it. We take a look at what this album meant for fans back in the day, as well as it’s significance in the realm of early twenty-tens music, because let’s be honest, it’s an interesting album in the modern landscape of today. There’s a lot to say about this time-capsule of a release, so we’re here to unpick the album track by track.
For those of us in our tweens throughout peak 1D era, it’s safe to say that this album’s release, and One Direction in general, gave a whole new meaning to the word, ‘fangirl’. We’d watched the likes of The Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber go before us, some of us even a part of those wonderful fandoms too, but there was something different with the One Direction boys. From their emergence on X-Factor UK, their sell out world wide tours and of course, What Makes You Beautiful, there was a camaraderie around the band that hadn’t been seen in a while. Fans were absolutely and unequivocally relentless. Promoting the band and their subsequent releases as if they were their own, Directioners quickly developed a reputation as one of the strongest fandoms in modern popular music, even in the days as early as Up All Night. But on a more personal level, you might be wondering what this album meant for fans of the time?
I was in the eighth grade when Up All Night came out. I wasn’t into pop music in the slightest, nor was I open minded about music that wasn’t alternative or rock; that’s where my musical heritage lies. But despite my lack of conformity for the stereotypical One Direction fangirl, I gave them a shot by listening to the Boyce Avenue version of What Makes You Beautiful and loved it. I gave the original version a chance after this one cover, and although I wouldn’t publicly admit to it, I loved it. And then it snowballed. I listened to the entire album and sure enough, it didn’t take long for me to turn fully into a Directioner.
Up All Night in its then current landscape was a sure-fire crowd pleaser. With poppy, upbeat hits like the album’s title track and of course, What Makes You Beautiful and Stand Up, parents could sit comfortably knowing that their child’s music was free from cussing and sexual innuendo. It’s infectious vibe swallowed you up whenever tracks made radio, and it was at times, difficult to escape the band across many of the mainstream stations. But it wasn’t just those poppy hits that captured our hearts and minds. Softer ballads like Gotta Be You and Moments remain fan favourites to this day, largely because we’d invested ourselves so deeply into this story that we felt front and centre.
For fans of that early tween age, it was our first real and memorable taste of something that had been an interest entirely of our own; an interest that hadn’t been rigorously verified by family members. We’d discovered this group ourselves, and claimed that passion as a defining identity trait. Perhaps this is why Up All Night became important to me at fourteen years old, and why it became important for so many other fangirls as well.
And sure, many of us now wiser and older than we were in 2011 can probably agree that it was never the most groundbreaking of records. There was nothing musically off the beaten track. Up All Night was an example of 10s bubblegum pop in its prime, but there’s nothing wrong with that. As the band began to advance in their career we saw some of the previously forsaken creative freedom come to the fore. Particularly with later albums Four and Made In The AM, each members voice and character was allowed out more. Lyrically, personally, and vocally, it’s safe to say that Up All Night was not the most authentic of records to the five guys behind it. But that didn’t matter to us all those years ago, and it certainly doesn’t now.
One Direction, thank you for providing bops on this album and all of the other albums you gave us. But we’re still waiting for your return. 18 months our ass.
Laurel and Issy featured on Midnight Memories: The Podcast earlier this year and spoke about the tracks Another World and Moments. You can listen to the episode here.
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