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one direction

The former One Direction frontman will make his first television appearance as a solo artist on “SNL” on April 15, joining previously announced host Jimmy Fallon as the episode’s musical guest. Earlier today Fallon Tweeted this:

This won’t be Styles’ first appearance on SNL because he has performed on the show a total three times with One Direction, making appearances every year between 2012 and 2014.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

One Direction
One Direction

Directioners (the affectionate name given for fans of the mega band One Direction) have been clamoring for more since the band took what looks to be a very extended hiatus in 2016. Since then former 1D member Zayn Malik has been busy releasing solo material while 1D members Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson have both released singles (as to Horan in Sept. 2016 he dropped This Town and in Dec. 2016 Tomlinson dropped Just Hold On). Now, it appears that much anticipated material will finally be released by Harry Styles, arguably the most popular member of the group.

Styles appearing in Dunkirk
Styles appearing in Dunkirk

In 2016 Styles had signed a solo record deal with Columbia and according to the video below, Styles’ first single will drop on April 7. Since the hiatus came about Styles has been busy acting on a role in Christoper Nolan’s upcoming World War II drama Dunkirk (out July 21) and writing songs for other artists, including Michael Buble. However, now it is time for Styles to shine again as a musician.

Arguably, Styles’ release could be the most anticipated event to occur since 1D’s hiatus.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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For ages bands have been covering other artists’ material and every once in a while you take note of an exceptional cover of someone else’s material.

Editor’s Note: In fact, sometimes the cover version of a tune is more popular than the original. Case in point is Guns N’ Roses’ Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (which was originally written by Bob Dylan); I Will Always Love You by Whitney Houston (it was originally done by Dolly Parton); and, Take Me To The River by the Talking Heads (this was a cover of an Al Green song).

To prove our point, you need to check out The 1975’s cover of One Direction’s What Makes You Beautiful.

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What Makes You Beautiful was One Direction’s first big hit which was released in 2011. The 1975 is an up and coming alternative-rock band from England. This cover version shows us a different side of The 1975 and it’s a great one.

Check out below The 1975’s interesting cover of What Makes You Beautiful:

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

One Direction member Niall Horan today released a new single entitled This Town. In fact, just this morning Horan, 23, Tweeted this:

Horan’s release comes as a relief to the millions of fans of the band as 1D’s hiatus continues. In fact, on this point Horan said, “I wanted to let people know that I was up to something so they didn’t think I’d just fallen off the face of the earth. That’s the only song that’s actually fully finished.” Horan later added this: “I’m excited to announce I have signed a record deal with Capitol Records USA and released my first solo song. Thank you to all the One Direction fans for your love and support as always. I’m looking forward to the next part of this journey together.”

 

You can check out the new tune below:

Fellow bandmates reacted swiftly and positively to the new track.

Reaction already is overwhelming to This Town as the track climbs the charts proving that the 1D magic is still there, hiatus or not.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

 

Former One Direction member and Pillowtalk vocalist, Zayn Malik, is working with renowned “Law & Order” creator and executive producer Dick Wolf to create a scripted television series about One Direction from his own perspective.

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Dick Wolf
Dick Wolf

The series will be entitled, “Boys.” Malik will be the executive producer and the series will document the formation of the group. “1D,” as they are frequently referred to, got their start on the British “X-Factor” where Malik teamed up with other 1D members Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson.

NBC Entertainment President Jennifer Salke had this to say about Malik’s involvement: “Zayn certainly brings an authentic point of view to this world where kids are catapulted into fame at a dizzying speed.” As to this project, Malik said: “Dick Wolf is a legend. The opportunity to work with him and NBC to create a compelling drama series is awesome.”

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One Direction
One Direction

One person not happy with the project is One Direction mastermind Simon Cowell.  In learning of the project Cowell said, “‘I do actually believe that when they’ve got these ideas, bearing in mind where we started, they should actually come to me.”

Malik split from the group in 2015 and then dropped his debut album entitled Mind of Mine which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 100 this year. Subsequently, the group sans Malik released Made In The A.M. in November of 2015 and then the group went on a hiatus which continues today.

Zayn’s announcement comes on the heels of his other announcement that he had to cancel an upcoming show on October 7 in Dubai.  In a letter to fans, Zayn wrote:

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“Dear Fans
I have been working over the last three months to overcome my extreme anxiety around major live solo performances I feel I am making progress but I have today acknowledged that I do not feel sufficiently confident to move forward with the planned show in Dubai in October.
I am assured that all tickets will be refunded.
I am truly sorry to disappoint you. I hope to see you all soon.
Thank you to all my fans who support me globally.
With love and respect always,
Zayn”

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Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

 

“We play our own instruments, we write our own songs, we play live — we’re not a boy band.”
Michael Clifford, 5 Seconds Of Summer

With the rise of mega band 5 Seconds Of Summer and mega boy band One Direction,  comparisons between the two groups have been frequent and intense. One of those comparisons was that 5SOS played their own instruments while 1D did not (with the exception of some backing guitar work by Niall Horan).

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Niall Horan from 1D
Niall Horan from 1D

Fast forward to today and 5SOS is still going strong while 1D is on an extended (and possibly permanent) hiatus. Does the fact that 5SOS play their own instruments have anything to do with their longevity? (For a reference point, One Direction formed in 2010 and 5SOS formed in 2011). Let’s take a look.

Editor’s Note: To meet the “other” members of One Direction that are the actual musicians playing instruments, check out this post.

Interestingly, as a starting point, research has shown that playing your own instrument can have certain advantages such as developing group and social skills.

Dr. Dre, a pioneer in rapping
Dr. Dre, a pioneer in rapping

The consideration of playing an instrument (or not playing one) has also led to many asking if vocalists and rappers are in fact “musicians.” A quick internet search will show many forums where this very question is hotly debated with many coming out on both sides of the equation.

The playing of one’s instrument has also been an issue for several “television” bands. For example, in the beginning the Monkees had their bout with producers about playing their own instruments.  Their television show ran from 1966 to 1968 and it was not until 1967 that the band was allowed to play for themselves.

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The Monkees
The Monkees

In the case of the Partridge Family, it was relatively well known that a group of hired musicians known as the “Wrecking Crew” were the real players responsible for the signature sound although David Cassidy was also a real performer as he was the lead singer on the group’s tunes. Interestingly, despite both television series being very popular (i.e., the Monkees and the Patridge Family), both shows were also relatively short lived. The Monkees aired for only two years and the Partridge Family only aired for four seasons.

Editor’s Note: The story of the Wrecking Crew in and of itself is an interesting one. The group, sometimes referred to as Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound Orchestra, featured a large group of players that included icon Glen Campbell and drummer Hal Blaine, to name just a few. The group formed in the 1950s and they went on to perform and back a number of acts including Frank Sinatra and Sonny & Cher. The group also performed on the first two albums by the Monkees.

The Wrecking Crew
The Wrecking Crew

Returning to our subjects at hand, would it have made a difference if One Direction was constructed like 5SOS in that they played their own instruments? (In the picture below resident 1D musician Niall Horan teaches Harry Styles guitar chords).

Bein cute doin guitar lessons

A photo posted by Gemma Styles (@gemmastyles) on


There’s a pretty good argument that can be made that 1D would not have worked if the members had to play their own instruments. It would have been difficult, if not impossible, for the 1D members to have conveyed and displayed as much of their personalities as they did if they, for example, were sitting behind a drum set. However, to the contrary, much has been made of 5SOS playing their own instruments and in fact in a 2014 feature in People that was one of distinguishing factors that was identified that separated 5SOS from other “boy bands.” In fact, as a true testament to 5SOS drummer, Ashton Irwin, it is worth noting that despite being behind a set of drums Irwin has developed quite a presence and personality which is along the likes of other celebrity drummers like Tommy Lee. Playing his own instrument has clearly benefitted Irwin.

5SOS on their 2016 tour
5SOS on their 2016 tour

But don’t fret it for those who wonder if it’s all bad. In fact, it’s not. Research has found that musicians are actually more creative when they are not playing their instruments.

There’s also one more consideration to think about. Hasn’t the opposite also shown to be true particularly in the case of some drummers? In other words, hasn’t it been better for some drummers’ careers when they have come out from behind the kit and left the drumming to someone else? Case in point is Phil Collins who became a frontman while leaving the drumming responsibilities largely to Chester Thompson. Genesis, for the better, was never the same after Collins became their frontman. Imagine what would have happened to Genesis if he never did come out front.

Chester Thompson (l.) and Phil Collins (r.)
Chester Thompson (l.) and Phil Collins (r.)

This was also the case for Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters although Grohl traded in his drumsticks for guitar duties. Again, however, despite his infamous presence as the timekeeper for Nirvana, Grohl’s stock arguably spiked when he began fronting Foo Fighters.

Taylor Hawkins (l.) and Dave Grohl (r.)
Taylor Hawkins (l.) and Dave Grohl (r.)

What’s your opinion? Does playing an instrument make a difference to band longevity?

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

First it was Zayn Malik and now it’s Harry Styles. Styles, the 22 year old One Direction crooner has just signed a contract with Columbia Records which will presumably begin his solo career away from the mega boy band. With Styles busy filming the movie Dunkirk there is no projected timetable for the release of his new material. Ironically, Columbia is also 1D’s label as well. Billboard broke the news and as per their report, this move should not come as a complete surprise.

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Arguably, Styles was the most popular and visible member of One Direction and with this signing, does this signal the end of the group? The mega pop band is currently on hiatus and has been for quite some time.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

 

“It was about denying the authenticity of who I was, and what I enjoyed about music, and why I got into it.”
Zayn Malik, on his leaving One Direction

This Friday Zayn Malik is poised to release his first solo album (entitled Mind Of Mine) since leaving One Direction and on the eve of this release Malik took a moment to look back–almost introspectively–at what prompted him to free himself as an artist from the grip of a superstar band and go on his own.  Thus, with all the overwhelming success and accolades that those years in 1D brought him, Malik was not himself and that just did not compute. Zayn 2Says Malik:

“There were certain restrictions in terms of the way that we could come outside of that young teen boy look. Mainly my beard, honestly. I wasn’t allowed to keep it. Eventually, when I got older, I rebelled against it, and decided to keep it anyway. That was just because I looked older than the rest of them.”

Another frustrating point for Malik was his ability to speak during interviews.  He said, “It’s nice to have the chance to speak,. Now I get to talk about what I’m passionate about.”

Leaving One Direction was not the only change that Malik made in 2015.  He also split with former fiancee Perry Edwards and in fact, as he puts it, he “fell out of love” with Edwards and that most of his solo album is about their break-up. Zayn 3On writing music, Malik added this:

“I feel like you get creative with things when you can be honest. Whether that’s positive or negative, it can work both ways. If you’re in a really good place, you can write a really good, upbeat song. When you’re in a s**t place you can write a downbeat fucking ballad! That’s just the way it is. But I feel like you can draw good creative things from both.”

But in the end it was his “authenticity” that he found again that made him whole, as a performer.  Malik described that finding like this:

“I believe that success follows authenticity. People see through fake s—. They don’t want to see that; they want a real person. That’s why Kanye [West] is so successful. He’s speaking the truth, regardless of whomever he offends, he isn’t bothered. That’s admirable.”

Malik has just released another track ahead of the release of his upcoming album.  That track is entitled Befour.  Take a listen below:

Depending on your point of view, Malik’s comments on his days in One Direction could be considered offensive or as he says, “ungrateful.”  Conversely, Malik can be seen as an artist just being true to himself and doing what he feels is right while refusing to give into a manufactured and prefabbed project which he found conflicting.  Either way, it seems clear that his days in One Direction are behind him.  He no longer looks the same, sounds the same, or represents the same as he did when he was in one of the world’s biggest pop bands.  Having said that, it’s time to move on and bring your record and your creativity and say what you want to say.  The microphone, the stage, and the floor, are all yours.  Do what you want.  It’s time and it all starts Friday.  Leave the past where it belongs.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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“I can’t stand tribute bands. It’s nice, bless ‘em, but it’s not right. They can’t capture the right spirit. You never see a tribute comedian, a tribute Les Dawson.”
Dave Davies (The Kinks)

The tribute act business–as we call it in this country–is not limited to our borders.  In fact, it is international. What has also changed is the target audience for tribute acts; it is no longer just older and classic groups, it now includes the young stars of today.  Sure, depending on where you live we all have heard of some of the better tribute acts out there and there are some good ones like Bruce In The USA (impersonating Bruce Springsteen) and Led Zepagain (impersonating Led Zeppelin).  However, again, the younger and current stars of today are also being tributed and one of the more interesting tribute acts around started three years ago with a Facebook post that simply read: “I’m looking for boys who look like Niall, Liam, Harry, and Louis.” Alongside the post was a photo of the world famous pop band, One Direction.  The author?  A Mexican talent agency by the name of Imitators Top which was started by Israel Carreño and Karla Magaña in 2012.  Imitators Top is a Mexican agency representing impersonators of some of the biggest pop stars including Ariana Grande, Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Five Seconds of Summer, and, One Direction.

Eventually, to play the part of One Direction the company recruited Bernardo Méndez (he plays Niall Horan and he is 17), Dylan de Jossineau (he plays Liam Payne and he is 18), Brandon González (he plays Louis Tomlinson and he is 17), Israel Carreño (he plays Zayn Malik and he is 23), and, Rudy Jaramillo (he plays Harry Styles and he is 20).  (All the impersonators are shown in the above picture except Jaramillo).

Editor’s Note: For those of you who are non-Directioner’s, the actual group is now made up of 4 members (Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and, Louis Tomlinson) as the 5th member, Zayn Malik, left the group in 2015.  One Direction is also currently on hiatus for an unspecified duration.

What makes this agency and this particular act interesting is their ability to target and cultivate a unique portion of the Mexican youth population whether it be a via a concert or private party; a population that is starved for more 1D.  Consider this.  During their 2013 tour (Take Me Home) One Direction played two shows in Mexico City to sold-out crowds of 108,050 per show.  Point being there is a young market for this act in Mexico and if they one could even capture a minor fraction of the real deal, it would be a good thing.

Enter Juan Direcshon, Imitators Top creation and tribute act to One Direction. As to the group’s impetus, Carreño (a co-founder of Imitators Top) had this to say:

“We realized no one else was offering that kind of service in Mexico. I had some savings that I wanted to invest in something, so we decided to put together a One Direction wardrobe.”

As the story goes, Carreño eventually settled on a 1D lineup which was followed by a failed demo video. However,  the group caught a break when they performed at Expo 15 which is a trade show that caters to aquinceañera parties (this is signified by a girl’s fifteenth birthday and her transition from childhood to adulthood and it typically involves a mass followed by a party).  According to Carreño after that performance “we booked 40 shows after that.”  However, that was not the end of it.  More rough patches and tough times followed which led Carreño to find and field the current lineup.  Along with that came changes which he described as follows:

“We would study the [1D] videos relentlessly. We watched the movie, like, twelve times. And each of us just focused on copying our characters—from their moves on stage to the way they engage with one another.”
FB photo
Juan Direcshon with a happy client

With more shows came success.  Some of that started with a photo taken of the group with a young girl that went viral.  What also followed was an explosion of followers on Facebook.  Of course and as to be expected, ridicule, trolling, and nasty comments also came with the territory.  (It would logically follow that if the actual group is ridiculed why would a tribute act not be subject to the same treatment?).  However, the group kept plugging along and as evidenced by their recent promo poster for an upcoming show (shown below), they have come a long way towards impersonating the real thing.

1D ad

Today, Carreño feels good about Juan Direcshon.  As he puts it:

“We’re the only ones who offer this kind of service in Mexico—especially when it comes to One Direction impersonators. If you google “One Direction impersonators Mexico,” you’ll find twenty ads and all of them are ours. There is simply no competition.”

In the end, the tribute act business is a hard one.  No doubt your audience will demand authenticity from the way you sound to the way you look and the way you act. Considering the emphasis that younger audiences will put on the artist’s appearance as in the case of a One Direction tribute act, that’s a tall order.   Despite that, whatever ridicule they get or success they achieve, Juan Direcshon at least deserves an “A+” for effort.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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As was reported earlier today by our colleagues at Billboard, One Direction frontman Harry Styles has split from 1D’s current management group; Modest Management.  (You can read the Billboard report here).  Styles joins former 1D member Zayn Malik as the second member to leave Modest.  So, who is Styles’ new management? Jeff Azoff, who is the son to entertainment mogul Irving Azoff, a renowned veteran of the industry and also the person whom Billboard named, in their 2012 edition of the “Power 100,” as the most powerful person in the music industry.  The elder Azoff has made a career of developing young talent and sticking with it.  Case in point is Azoff’s 40 year relationship with the Eagles.

Irving Azoff
Irving Azoff

The reason why Styles’ move is interesting is several fold.  As everyone knows, One Direction is currently in “hiatus” status which has come to mean varying things depending on who you talk to.  The company line, so to speak, has been that the band will go on and that all that was needed during this break was the break itself.  However, with Malik now showing some very promising returns on his new single Pillowtalk it would not be a stretch to envision that other 1D members can see such solo success for themselves as well. In fact, the Hollywood Life has reported that sources close to Styles claim that he thinks he can blow Malik’s solo success “out of the water.”

The point is that a solo career all starts with distancing oneself from professionals that got Styles and crew to where they are today.  In other words, the utility of the 1D model (created and masterminded by none other than Simon Cowell) has simply run its course.  Bluntly put, the “team” has gotten the artist as far as the artist wanted to go with that project (irrespective of unimaginable global success) and now it’s time to move in a different direction. A solo direction that is. Indeed, that may be the inevitable truth and signs like this do indeed indicate that this could be the new direction.  Only time will tell.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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