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Ranking every One Direction album

It’s been almost eight years since One Direction (1D) went on their indefinite hiatus, ceasing their reign as one of the biggest boy bands of the 2010s. In its short run of six years, 1D managed to grab the hearts of fans with their charming personalities, alluring stage presence and danceable melodies. Its music has become a staple in pop culture, and the members continue to act as pop icons, following success further into their solo careers.

The band released five albums in a span of five years, with each record coming out annually in November. To commemorate the band’s history that flourishes this time of year, the following article is a ranking of each One Direction record. 

Each album is ranked based on how well the record has held up over the past five to 10 years, its replayability and personal enjoyment.

5. “Made In The A.M.” (2015)

In last place on this ranking is One Direction’s fifth and final record, “Made In The A.M.” After the departure of Zayn Malik, one of the five members of the band, One Direction set out to make what would be its last album.

The record dabbles in more mature themes rather than the lovey-dovey, teen pop facade the band was known for in its early days. However, the lyrics tend to find themselves in that place, especially in songs like “Never Enough” and “If I Could Fly.”

The singles are less notable in comparison to the band’s discography, although “Drag Me Down” is one of its more iconic tracks. It’s simply one of those records where each song tends to sound the same with its poppy synths, bright guitars and subtle drums. However, there are a few tracks that stand out like “Olivia.” Even so, they don’t hit as hard as they used to when they came out in 2015. Overall, it’s an alright record, but it’s not as memorable or cohesive as the band’s other albums.

4. “FOUR” (2014)

The album conveniently placed in the fourth spot on this list is “FOUR,” released in 2014. The band – Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik – continue its trend of giving their boy band appearance a more mature look. With songs like “Night Changes” and “Spaces,” the album’s aspect of love is deeper and more emotional than their first three records.

However, it doesn’t stop them from holding on to a familiar sound that, like “Made in the A.M.,” keeps the album from standing out track-to-track. Obviously, we have hit tracks like “Steal My Girl” and “No Control” that capture the listener’s ear with their catchy pop melodies. On the other hand, songs like “Stockholm Syndrome” and “Ready to Run” fail to stick out of the 2014 pop machine. Again, “FOUR” holds its own with its catchy singles, but the rest of the record fails to compete.

3. “Up All Night” (2011)

Coming in at number three on this ranking is One Direction’s debut record, “Up All Night,” released in 2011. Coming fresh off the stage of “The X Factor,” the teenagers at the time came together to make one of the most iconic records of the early 2010s. With earworm tracks like “What Makes You Beautiful” and “One Thing,” the album captured the hearts of fellow teenagers who related to the themes of young love, heartbreak and having dumb fun with their friends.

This album is one of the more coherent One Direction records; however, it lacks a certain togetherness between the five boys that is better solidified on later records. They hadn’t found their strengths between one another yet, which is reasonable considering that Simon Cowell threw “The X Factor” boys together just a year prior to recording. 

“Up All Night” is one of the more memorable records with singles that placed the boy band at the top of the charts, but it doesn’t hold up within the rest of the band’s discography.

2. “Midnight Memories” (2013)

In second place is the band’s third record, “Midnight Memories,” released in 2013. This album is arguably one of their more experimental records as it dips its toes into an “edgier” sound with louder guitars, booming drums and melodic synths. This pop-rock record features hits like “Best Song Ever,” “You & I” and “Story of My Life,” which are some of the band’s more tasteful singles.

“Midnight Memories” is the start of One Direction becoming more mature, sonically and lyrically. The harmonies are cohesive, and each member knows where their strengths are and how to use them. Although the lyrics are still cheesy teen pop-esque, similar to the band’s first two records, they work well with the “rockier” instrumentals. In all, One Direction in their “bad boy” era was one of their more memorable moments, which brought about an equally memorable record.

1. “Take Me Home” (2012)

Finally, One Direction’s top record is their second studio album, “Take Me Home,” released in 2012. Riding off the success of “Up All Night,” One Direction returned to the stage with arguably one of its most well-known records. While their debut introduced the world to hits like “What Makes You Beautiful” and its title track, this record solidified their stance in pop culture with equally catchy singles like “Live While We’re Young,” “Kiss You” and “Little Things.”

This album is the epitome of One Direction with its chummy lyrics, catchy melodies and bubbly instrumentals. Each song is simple and immediately catches the ear of the listener. The members have a better grasp of their vocal strengths, and their harmonies are some of the best in their entire discography. 

Even their lesser-known songs like “She’s Not Afraid” and “I Would” are compelling with their high-paced, danceable energy. This record is simply a fun time that allows listeners to feel nostalgic for early 2010s teen pop.

This article is dedicated to my sister, Raegan Phillips, who is the biggest One Direction fan I’ve ever met. In the whirlwind of the “One Direction Infection,” she forced me to listen to every song, watch every music video and rip out pictures of the 1D boys from magazines. I acted as if I hated it at the time, but I secretly loved every moment of hanging out with my big sister. I hope she enjoys my ranking of the records that shaped both of our early teenage years.


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