You Can Trace The Evolution Of One Direction Across Their 5 Album Covers
I’m sitting here listening to One Direction’s new single, “Love You Goodbye,” and thinking about when I first saw them on TV back in 2011 (or was it early 2012?). I don’t remember what show it was or if it was just a segment on a variety show or something. I just remember the song — “What Makes You Beautiful” — and I remember the outfits and the smiles.
, their fifth album and last before a well-deserved break. We’ve heard a handful of its songs already, so we know the kind of emotional ride we’re in for. But the way its artwork looks is just as telling. In fact, that’s totally true for all five of the group’s albums. They’ve grown up, and we’ve watched it all unfold with each release.
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So, in the name of science (but also #nostalgia), we took a look back on each of 1D’s album covers, from
, to see what they tell us now. Prepare to go back.
The Look: Hey, it’s those kids from the “X Factor”! And they’re dressed like Gap mannequins!
The Mood: Pumped to be in front of the camera. Jubilant. Playful.
introduced the bold red 1D logo that the band eventually shed for
. But right from the get-go, the message is clear: These five guys are here, and they’re ready. For everything. (Even if they do look a bit
The Look: Stylish and fancy, but in a way that kinda says “I’m wearing a suit I borrowed from my dad and it’s a little too big.” Also, very British. Like, quite so.
The Mood: Still very boyish. I mean, they’re legit climbing a telephone booth, so yeah. Definite “A Hard Day’s Night” vibes coming through in the silliness.
The Takeaway: The red 1D logo is still prominent and actually brings out the bold red hues of the phone booth, which still suggests they needed to be easy to find on the shelves. However, it’s all about to change…
The Look: Zayn’s tattoos! The cool T-shirts! Louis’ denim! The facial scruff! Harry’s throwback Bob Dylan coat! It’s all very different.
The Mood: Serious. Well, maybe half-serious. Zayn is very serious and pretty much scowling, and Liam’s got a fierce pose going on, but Harry’s smile breaks the tension. As per usual.
The Takeaway: They’re not the same band anymore. The tiny 1D logo is gone, and they’re older. They have tattoos now. They’re singing “Little Black Dress” and they mean it.
The Look: More tattoos. More diverse hair styles. Harry’s got a hat (and longer hair). They all look like they’re in the middle of something, which they absolutely were. Nothing new, but nothing’s the same, either.
The Mood: “OK, let’s take the photo. Oh, another? Alright then.”
The Takeaway: Did the title foreshadow Zayn’s departure? Unintentionally maybe. But there’s an overall sense of maturity on this one, too, and not a trying-to-be-mature look like on
. Maybe it’s just natural confidence. They’d earned it by then.
The Look: They’ve physically never looked older than this, and they look like men. Real men. Men with goals, ambitions and a purpose. Harry’s got wide eyes (read: solo career?). Liam’s got the hat now.
The Mood: “Here we are. We’re doing this. We did this. Thanks for being part of it.”
The Takeaway: If you think of the five titles as variations on times of day (or night), we began with a youthful declaration to stay awake until dawn —
as the completion of that goal. It works. And we’ve never been more excited to see how the music matches.
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Beneath the bebop moon, beneath the mambo sun.