Undoubtedly one of the most successful boybands of all time, One Direction has been dominating airwaves and headlines ever since their inception on The X Factor in 2010. Since then, they have amassed 4 headlining tours, 5 studio albums, 6 Guinness World Records, and millions of fans from all around the world. Now that the boys are cemented into their respective solo careers, it seems as though the band’s hiatus will not be over anytime soon. While they have had some massively successful singles such as “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Best Song Ever”, we decided to dive into their discography and find some hidden gems. Here are our picks for One Direction’s 10 best non-singles:
Tell Me a Lie:
Featured on the band’s debut album, the song was originally intended for Kelly Clarkson’s album Stronger. However, after Kelly’s demo of the song leaked, she decided to let go of the song, which was then taken by One Direction. The song features Zayn on the chorus, where he cries out that he’d rather hear a lie than hear he’s being left for someone else. The rest of the song follows suit, with the other boys describing the heartbreak that this girl is putting them through. The sentiment is somber, but the song is played like an anthem, with pulsing synths and a heavy guitar, making it an undeniably catchy slice of pop rock.
Ever since this song’s release it has been a fan favorite. While their sophomore album Take Me Home is full of dance-pop songs, this one stands out from the crowd. The boys sing about spotting a girl from across the room, and wanting nothing more than to dance with her. With a tight, synth driven beat, the song’s verses feel as though it is building the tension of the boy walking over to the girl, and then the chorus explodes as the boy approaches the girl and asks her to dance.
With a stomp-stomp-clap beat that clearly references Queen’s “We Will Rock You”, this song serves as an ode to summer ‘09. The boys sing about the simple things like lying on the beach and sitting by the fire, and contrast them with heavier things like realizing that they aren’t better alone and that they shouldn’t have let this girl go. While the song has a big beat and vocals from the boys, Louis’ emotive vocals on the pre-chorus anchors the song and gives it an emotional high point that ties the whole song together.
Co-written by Louis Tomlinson, “Strong” is a powerful and anthemic song about feeling stronger when with your significant other. The rock influenced song starts with a quiet acoustic guitar, with light and subdued vocals, but as the tension in the guitar builds, the chorus erupts with the boys belting out the powerful lyrics. Tomlinson revealed that the song was inspired by him wanting to rebel against the idea that men aren’t supposed to show their emotions. This is reinforced in lyrics such as “‘Cause when I’m not with you I’m weaker, is that so wrong? Is it so wrong, that you make me strong?”. Tomlinson has also said that seeing signs with these lyrics on stage are some of his favorite moments, because he knows this song has had an impact on people.
Little White Lies:
While the majority of the tracks on Midnight Memories, the band’s third album, are more rock influenced, “Little White Lies” stands out from the pack, with a more EDM influenced sound. The song starts with the earworm of a chorus, sang acapella. The song quickly transitions, now with a dancefloor ready beat, with the boys singing about the little white lies that this girl is telling. The chorus comes back in full force, but this time with big, synth driven production, with the boys singing about how even if the room they were in was burning, they wouldn’t notice, because all they are thinking about is her little white lies.
Where Do Broken Hearts Go:
Appearing on the band’s fourth album, entitled Four, “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” embraces a slew of influences. Part arena rock, part power ballad, and part 80s pop, this track has a little bit of everything. The song starts out tame, with restraint in both the production and vocal delivery, but like much of the band’s work, the tension builds into a monster of a chorus. Full of heavy guitar and synths just begging to fill an arena, the boys scream out that they are searching high and low for the girl who’s heart they broke.
While many One Direction songs start out rather tame and subdued, but build their way into an explosive chorus, “No Control” is an explosion from the get-go. With Tomlinson taking lead vocals on the chorus, which was a first for him, “No Control” is a non-stop ball of energy. Fan’s were so in love with the song, and so devastated that it was never released a single, that an online campaign called “Project No Control” was created. The goal of the project was to promote the song, as if the fans themselves were the band’s record label. Fans promoted the song by tweeting about it, calling local radio stations, and printing off flyers. The project was a success, with the song being played on some of the biggest radio stations in the world, and became the top trending song on Billboard’s twitter chart. The project not only showed the world the power of the band’s dedicated fans, but helped more people listen to a kick-ass song that they most likely wouldn’t have heard otherwise.
Primarily written by Harry Styles, “Stockholm Syndrome” is about being “held hostage” by someone’s love. Styles has even said, perhaps jokingly, perhaps not, that the song was written about being in a sexual relationship with a nymphomaniac. The clearly metaphorical references are both clever and dramatic, giving the song a certain intensity that has made it such a fan favorite. Production wise, the track shows the band embracing a more synth driven sound than many of the other guitar-heavy offerings on Four. The chorus is bouncy and danceable, with Harry’s vocals sweeping over the chorus, making for a groovy slice of 80s inspired synth-pop.
Act My Age:
This track is pure campy brilliance. While love and heartbreak are constant themes of the band’s work, it’s refreshing to hear them break out of that mold and be goofy as hell. Clearly inspired by Niall Horan’s Irish roots, the track features some very folksy guitars, as well as a sort of EDM dancefloor chorus. While the two sounds wouldn’t normally be associated with each other, this track is just silly enough to make it work. Lyrically, the boys sing about when they’re fat and old, complete with seemingly drunken chanting and laughing at the end of the song. Unfortunately, this song was only a bonus track on their album Four, so it never got the recognition we feel it deserved, but it is amazing nonetheless.
Upon the release of the band’s most recent album, Made in the A.M., many people were skeptical that the band would not be able to capture the same magic as on previous albums, without the presence of former member Zayn Malik. While many people felt these fears were squashed after the release of the album’s debut single “Drag Me Down”, any remaining fears were without a doubt squashed with the release of “Infinity”. A Coldplay-esque song, which features light and dreamy production and vocals on the verses, and arguably some of the band’s best lyrics. The vocal passion is revved up by Harry on the first two choruses, and by all the boys on the final chorus, where they wail out, “How many nights does it take to count the stars, that’s the time it would take to fix my heart.” While the song starts out light and dreamy, there is a huge synth drop after the bridge that catapults the song into the final chorus, and is nothing short of magical. It is epic in a way that catches you off guard in the best possible way, and makes for one of the band’s best songs.