On Nov. 18, 2011, One Direction humbly released its debut album, Up All Night, in the United Kingdom. It didn’t take long for the lovable faces of Zayn Malik, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan to take the U.S. — and eventually the world — by storm. Even though the boys have now parted ways and embarked on solo careers, their collective debut continues to dazzle all this time later.
Most know the story of the band’s formation: each boy auditioned as a solo act on The X Factor in 2010, but none of them made it past bootcamp. Judges Simon Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger, however, put the boys together in a group, and Styles eventually came up with the name “One Direction.” The boys ended up placing third on the show but were immediately signed to Cowell’s record label, Syco Records.
For the next five years, the boys became the new Beatles. They generated elation with every move they made, witnessed fans swoon over the littlest things they did and produced nothing but success. It couldn’t continue forever, though. On March 25, 2015, after four eminent albums, the group announced Malik would be leaving the band. The boys reassured fans they would continue as a four-piece, but by the end of the year, they announced an 18-month hiatus, which eventually became permanent. The boys all had solo projects in the works by mid-2017.
Though the boys conquered the world with each of their five collective albums — including one, Made in the A.M., after Malik’s departure — Up All Night encased the fresh, unparalleled talent that made the band the most successful of its time. The mega-hit “What Makes You Beautiful” is an irreplaceable, wholesome classic. “More Than This” gives each member a deserving solo section, as they each beautifully vocalize their pure love for the girl to whom they’re singing. “Same Mistakes” showcases Malik’s irreproachable vocal range. No track on the album falls flat, and the debut will forever be the pinnacle of five modest boys who swiftly changed the world.
Here are the best five tracks from the souvenir edition of Up All Night:
5. “Same Mistakes”
One of the only tracks that Payne doesn’t open, as Styles takes the lead instead, “Same Mistakes” is a ballad about attempting to overcome the unavoidable rough patches of a relationship. Guided by melancholy keys and entrancing synths, the boys acknowledge the hard times will only continue if they don’t own up to their problems. Payne tells it like it is in the second verse: “Wake up; we both need to wake up / Maybe if we face up to this, we can make it through this.” The boys’ vocals blend flawlessly in the chorus, and it’s simply a beautiful, blunt track.
4. “One Thing”
“One Thing” is one of those songs that once you listen to it, its catchiness won’t leave your mind for days. The meaning is almost as straightforward as they come: each of the boys have found the girl of their dreams, who apparently has an extraordinary attribute they can’t live without. Tomlinson and Malik, backed by a simple yet infectious guitar line, perfectly illustrate their feelings in the pre-chorus: “Something’s gotta give now ’cause I’m dying just to know your name / And I need you here with me now ’cause you’ve got that one thing.”
3. “Another World”
Though it’s only featured on the deluxe and souvenirs versions of Up All Night, “Another World” stands out for disclosing one of the boys’ most aggressive vocal performances ever. The fiery vocals perfectly juxtaposes the wholesome lyrical content, as Styles and Malik explain they’ll do anything for their significant others: “Every day in every way, oh / I’ll lift you up; I’ll never stop / You know I’ll take you to another world.” All elements of the track would make any listener want to be the one taken to another world by the boys.
Co-written by Ed Sheeran, “Moments” faultlessly encapsulates all the heart and soul One Direction put into its records. A comforting acoustic guitar line intermixed with first-rate violins help accent the boys’ genuine feelings for their summer love: “You know I’ll be your love, your voice, your reason to be my love / My heart is breathing for this moment in time / I’ll find the words to say before you leave me today.” This track will inevitably instill nostalgia into the listener’s entire being.
1. “Gotta Be You”
As one of the most dejected tracks in all of One Direction’s discography, “Gotta Be You” discusses begging for a significant other’s forgiveness after seemingly shattering their heart. Payne promises she can trust him and that he isn’t going anywhere: “Girl, what a mess I made upon your innocence / And no woman in the world deserves this / But here I am, asking you for one more chance.” Styles’ falsetto in the final recurrence of the chorus, on its own, is enough for “Gotta Be You” to reign as the best track of 2011, which blatantly makes it the best on Up All Night.