And One Direction is snubbed by The Grammys. Again.
The band’s latest album Made in the A.M. was released November 2015, within the 2017 Grammy window. Debuting at number one in the UK with 93,189 copies, the album was also number two on the US Billboard 200 with 402,000 first-week sales.
One Direction is the only group to have debuted at number one in the US with its first four albums. They’ve also been on four worldwide, sold-out tours, two of them featuring stops at football stadiums.
The band’s success is literally unprecedented.
And yet, the boys have never won a Grammy, let alone been nominated for one. While they receive plenty of media attention, it’s often they’re getting stared down at, rather than looked up to.
In a One Direction concert review by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:
“Even the dads who were dragged to the show would have to concur One Direction didn’t fill the Brewers stadium to near-capacity strictly based on looks. All the vocals were consistently solid, and I even spied some dads nodding and singing along to undeniably catchy, if unoriginal, ‘80s-indebted stadium rockers ‘Steal My Girl’ and ‘Midnight Memories.’”
Of course a father can’t take his daughter to a concert to see a band for his enjoyment. One Direction is below him. His daughter only wanted to see them because they’re good looking. And of course One Direction is “unoriginal” — if they try to play songs reminiscent of their heroes and the classic rock these dads are supposed to love, they’re not a good band — they’re copycats.
This follows a long trend of society scoffing at boy bands. Having a fanbase of predominantly young women instantly discredits artists. Female enjoyment of One Direction and other pop music is degraded and infantilized, and female fans are seen as psychotic and hormonal. All of this is rooted in typical toxic sexism.
This phenomenon has been analyzed by media scholars for years. In their book “Legitimating Television,” Michael Newman and Elana Levine determined that television has been considered a “feminine” medium because it has been tied to domesticity and consumerism. As a result, TV shows have been “classified as feminine, and thereby as a less worthy, significant, and serious medium.”
The same process can be seen with bands like One Direction, in that they directly appeal to straight female or gay male audiences.
Legitimating culture has become equivalent to masculinizing culture and distancing oneself from that which is considered feminine.
This is not to say that both men and women cannot dislike One Direction and pop music based on one’s music taste.
But it has been shown time and time again that the negative connotations surrounding One Direction and pop music, the negative connotations of being considered a One Direction fan, the dismissal of One Direction and their success by music critics and the poor treatment of One Direction fans by the music community are very largely rooted in sexism.
Another victim to this music elitism and gendered dismissal is 5 Seconds of Summer, a band virtually unknown outside of their fanbase of, again, primarily young women.
Patrick Ryan of USA Today said, “their record label calls them ‘the biggest band that no one’s heard of.’ No one except preteen and teenage girls, that is. Ever since 5 Seconds of Summer opened for One Direction on tour in 2013, the Australian heartthrobs have cultivated a rabid young fanbase of 30 million Twitter followers.
Anything young women give attention to is written off as unimportant at best. And because they’re excited, young, female fans, they’re rabid, crazy, unstable and other terms that not only perpetuate the harmful stigma of mental illness, but delegitimize female passion for music.
It is important to note that when the Cubs won the World Series just a few short weeks ago, their predominantly masculine fan base did not hide its excitement.
In a concert review titled “5 Seconds of Summer brings jokes, surprising proficiency to Lakeview Amphitheater” by Syracuse.com: “When they weren’t getting everyone giggling, the band certainly wowed their loyal teeny bopper following (and then some!) with their solid live vocals and playing.”
“Seventy-five percent of our lives is proving we’re a real band,” said drummer Ashton Irwin in an interview with Rolling Stone.
Female fans and the bands they follow are seen as lesser than male fans, as having a lower status, as being less mature and not capable of liking “real” music, whatever that is.
And by the way, it’s not like these bands are off the hook either.
“We don’t want to just be, like, for girls,” Irwin also said.
We need to stop dismissing artists with large female fanbases before we even hear their music. Give One Direction a listen, and then determine your appreciation for them.