One Direction Grow Up and Hell Officially Freezes Over on SNL
A few truths about One Direction: their voices are lovely, their tattoos are bad and Harry Styles' hairstyle will be brought up every single time he hits the stage. That mane is as undeniable as his prowess with his high belt, but Saturday night, One Direction's Saturday Night Live performance--their second--took the five strapping lads out of the arena full of screaming girls and threw them into a tiny, intimate soundstage, rendering the flairs (and flaws) of their live chops much more noticeable than the brooding teenager's coif. They sounded fine--great even--and proved that this isn't the same group of kids who had you desperately reaching for tweezers to ply the gluey tendrils of "What Makes You Beautiful" from your brain the last time they swung through Rockefeller Center late on a Saturday evening.
"Story Of My Life" and "Through The Dark" were highlights in and of themselves, but Paul Rudd's opening monologue was one of the best of the season, even if we're sick to death of the massive, across-all-channels push to market the ever-living poop out of Anchorman 2. Rudd's co-stars joined him and the 1D guys for a repeat performance of their barbershop attempt at "Afternoon Delight." Any excuse to whip out Steve Carrell's falsetto and pair the Channel 4 news team with the biggest boy band on the planet is a good one. Thumbs up.
Props given when props are due: the delivery of "Story Of My Life" was powerful, sincere and free of the earnest facial expressions and overabundance of dramatic hand gestures you'd expect from a bunch of guys who get paid to look tortured while singing pretty. The staging was appropriate. The walk-in-a-circle thing wasn't as cheesy as it could've been. The "WHY HELLO MILLIONS OF VIEWERS IMMA SING STRAIGHT AT YOU THROUGH THE CAMERA" approach (pegged by Liam and Niall, specifically) isn't one typically embraced on the SNL stage, but it felt appropriate here. I've never intentionally listened to a One Direction song in my life and consider "What Makes You Beautiful" to be the stuff of Top 40 nightmares, and "Story Of My Life" actually tempted me to hit YouTube immediately following the broadcast to check out the recorded version. On a similar note, hell's officially frozen over.
Their penchant for drama was put to good use for "Through The Dark," which echoed the grandiose arrangements and megawatt power they're used to experiencing at their stadium shows. The fit five refrained from breaking a sweat over the course of the rousing single and sang for their room service, indeed. Any pop group that goes for an imperfect high note knowing full well that their voices will crack--as opposed to the Autotuned perfection of a sterile take--is one worth applauding, and Harry's take on the riffs at the end of the number did just that in a perfectly imperfect way.
Directioners all over the world made it a bit tricky to sift through the barrage of tweets that hit the internet like a squealing avalanche last night, but it turns out that Harry Styles superfans weren't the only ones paying attention ...