Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Great One Direction Hiatus [Contributor: Megan Mann]

As I was walking into Soldier Field last week, ready to live while I’m young, my friend and fellow Directioner sent me a link. I clicked it and immediately refused to believe it.

One Direction to Disband in March

Well, color me depressed/angry/disbelieving/sort of relieved. I know, I know. You’re about to ask me how it's possible to be feeling all of those emotions at once. I understand where you’re coming from and I’m here to explain myself.

Three years ago, I spent two nights back-back in Tinley Park, Illinois belting out the lyrics to the songs from Take Me Home. Last year, I flew all the way to England in order to throw myself into the throngs of girls at Manchester City’s stadium and Wembley Arena, gaining new life from the high notes in "You & I." This summer I spent my best friend’s birthday in Indianapolis having Spice Girls flashbacks with a now-foursome of Brits. Last week, I even locked eyes with the beautiful Liam Payne.

It’s been a wonderful three years. I've been having the most fun with some of my favorite people. So to hear that One Direction will take a break after releasing their upcoming fifth album makes me sad, especially after the release of the "Drag Me Down" a few weeks ago. That song proved to be a departure and a progression from what the band had previously done. You could tell that the single was less about pleasing the pop radio masses and more about going in the direction the band had wanted to all along.

I’m sad because the fun aspects of this summer won’t repeat again next summer. I’m sad because I won’t get to dance around at concerts alongside people of all ages while screaming the lyrics to some of the best pop music. I’m sad because we’re going to get this phenomenal album (I won’t say it’ll be their best one yet because the papers always say that kind of stuff for us) and then the band won't be touring it. So the question is... what am I supposed to do with that?

Until it was confirmed via Twitter by both Louis and Niall, I was in disbelief that this was even happening. Why would the band have just finished a fantastic new album and then decided to not even tour it? Surely Simon Cowell wouldn’t allow his cash cow (neither Little Mix nor Fifth Harmony have the colossal success or global draw that they do) to release an album, do mere promotion and then not tour it, right? ... RIGHT? He likes money. I mean, he likes taking our money, so that doesn't seem like a logical move.

Shortly thereafter, I transitioned back to grief. Because, as the fake version of Joey Fatone of my beloved *NSYNC pointed out (yes, I know the article is not  real but it's absolutely worth reading for the kernels of truth in it and, you know, humor), that was *NSYNC’s plan as well. They were going to take a hiatus in order to pursue solo efforts and now here we all are without another album of theirs, with no tour and has anyone heard from Chris Kirkpatrick since Justin, one of the most successful pop icons of the last decade, was given the vanguard award at the VMAs a few years ago? [Jenn's Note: One of my local radio DJs just got married recently and is friends with him. He was totally at their wedding. True story!] What would I do if I received this precious fifth album and then never got the chance to hear more than "Drag Me Down" played from it live?

After I let the disbelief and the anger and the sadness subside, I was almost relieved. (I really think I'm going through the stages of grief with this news.) And I feel that way for them because... come on. What they’ve managed to do is unprecedented. They went from just five guys auditioning alone to becoming a group and hitting huge success. And this was all before they were even done on X-Factor. They’ll have: put out five chart-topping albums in five years, circumnavigated the globe on almost a constant basis doing both promotion and touring for aforementioned albums, done both a documentary and live concert that debuted theaters and, finally, had a meteoric rise to superstardom. Seriously. In five years. I mean, that has to be absolutely exhausting. It’s exhausting for me to just think about and I’m not even doing half of what they are.

Not only have they each as individuals and as a band had to deal with all of the stress and effort of what I mentioned, but then there are the fans. These guys can’t go anywhere without being literally chased down the streets or even sometimes (and more dangerously) on the highway by the people who love them. They’re constantly being photographed. Their personal lives are infiltrated constantly and yet, somehow, despite ALL of that, they’re still supposed to take on the responsibility of being some of the fans' saviors. That’s a whole lot of pressure on five dudes who probably didn’t think in a million years that their auditions would lead them to this. So yeah, I'm a little relieved to hear of this news. I'm relieved that the boys won't have to be constantly shoved in the spotlight. And who knows, maybe they'll even be allowed to walk down the street without wondering if they have to duck into a random store or a girl is going to hurt herself while hurdling fire hydrants to demand a photo. (I mean, seriously, ladies. They’re real people too. you know.)

I’m also totally relieved for myself. Did you catch that earlier? I’ve seen One Direction every summer for the last three years, traveled across an ocean to see them at England’s largest stadium (and also in the den of that gross team Manchester City). I've thrown so much money at the band (not literally), have forfeited sleep before flights and work to see them and have totally made my friends fans. But... I’m tired, too, guys. I love them dearly, of course, but now maybe I can catch a little bit of a break, you know? I’m sure once the album officially debuts (I don’t mess around with leaks, okay) that I’ll be changing my tune and itching for a tour. But maybe a little distance before that happens is good. Sure, I’ll miss Harry trolling the audience and I'll miss Niall’s terrible dancing and I'll  miss Liam reading inappropriate signs. I'll definitely miss that and I'll miss them. But as an adult, I also just understand.

So long as those three dashing Brits and one four-leaf clover come back to us eventually, I will accept this hiatus. To One Direction: enjoy your time off and I look forward to the day when we meet again. I walked out of Miller Park in Milwaukee last week with a smile on my face and I’ll be ready and willing to snatch a seat the next time around, too.

Oh, and one more thing, One Direction: just make sure you bring back "Live While We’re Young," during the next tour, okay? This is the only change that I’m not sure I can accept and forgive you for.


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