A not so ‘Fine Line’ in my musical tastes: Finding 1D at 18

Kelsey Kern, Senior Staff Reporter

Unfortunately, my childhood musical tastes consisted of three things and three things only: “Glee” covers with M*tthew M*rrison, ’80s Hair Bands like Guns n’ Roses and Van Halen, and Taylor Swift (back when she was still country). 

My first-generation, seafoam green iPod Shuffle lacked the perfection that is One Direction. 90% of my music knowledge stemmed from my father’s influence and questionable mashups with ear-bleeding Rachel Berry solos.

I was never unaware of 1D. In fact, I was fully aware of the band, and I hated them because of that. Every time I got in my mom’s minivan, we’d turn on the radio and instantly hear the screeching noise of “What Makes You Beautiful.” 

The song was overplayed and over-hyped, but mostly, I was over it. Being the nuisance that I was as an eight-year-old, I thought it was too mainstream. 

You think those indie dudes who gatekeep bands are bad? 

I was seven, bragging about my knowledge of the ’80s and acting as though I was born in the wrong generation. 

To anyone I ever bragged about my elite music taste to, I want to apologize; I only knew old music because of “Glee” and my dad (whose soul is perpetually trapped in the ‘80s). 

I was the worst. I complained because I didn’t want to be like those crazed fans I had seen in Disney’s “Starstruck.” 

I acted as though I hated One Direction and definitely didn’t watch “iCarly” Season 6 Episode 2 on repeat.

Because I was trying to protect the precious mirage that was my reputation, I refused to listen to One Direction.

I didn’t realize that my need to be “quirky” as a kid ended up leaving me with a musical-shaped hole in my heart. 

In 2017, I heard a little ditty called “Sign of the Times” by this super underground indie singer, Harry Styles. I instantly fell utterly in love. 

It became my favorite song. 

It became my favorite music video. 

It became my entire personality. 

I couldn’t fathom how a former member of a poppy boy band could write music like that. In my mind, One Direction’s entire discography consisted of 30 duplicates of “What Makes You Beautiful,” all worse than the last. But Harry Styles was creating real art. 

I ranked “Sign of the Times” as the best song on Harry’s self-titled solo album. This was quickly replaced by “Kiwi.” 

Then “Carolina.” 

Then “Sweet Creature.” 

It was and still is impossible to pick a favorite song from Harry’s debut album. 

Even then, with all my love for Harry Styles, I was reluctant to listen to One Direction. Unlike elementary school me, I wasn’t not listening to prove a point, I honestly didn’t think of them. 

But when “Fine Line” was released in 2019, I was fully immersed in my Harry Styles obsession. “Fine Line” instantly became my favorite Harry song. It is masterful. I wasn’t sure how I could love Harry more. 

But even then, I hadn’t expanded my knowledge of Harry’s music. I was still blind to the wonders of One Direction. 

It wasn’t until January of this year(yes, 2021) that I finally realized One Direction’s power. 

I was sitting in my living room and was shuffling a Harry Styles radio on Spotify. I heard a song I had never heard before. I stopped doing whatever it was I was doing and just listened. I felt a wave of joy wash over me and cleanse my soul. 

Foot tapping became head bobbing. Head bobbing became a full-blown living room dance party. When the song was over, I grabbed my phone to see what the song was. I don’t know what I was expecting to see once I tapped on the screen, but what I saw was groundbreaking. It was…It was…It was… “Something Great” by One Direction? Seriously, I like a One Direction song? I was listening to a One Direction song, and it was good?

At that moment, I knew I had just changed my life. 

From there, I decided to put my stubbornness to the side and changed the Harry Styles radio to One Direction.

The first wave of listening to One Direction led me down a hole of self-depreciation. As an 18-year-old just now getting into the band, my heart went in only one direction… regret. 

Listening to the band reminded me of the childhood I could have had, the concerts I didn’t go to, the bare spots on my wall where posters could have hung. I would have ripped my Troy Bolton poster down in a heartbeat if I had known about the heartthrob that is Harry Styles. 

I spent so much of my youth thinking I was too good for One Direction that I starved myself from the music that I truly craved. 

Too good for One Direction? If I could see my younger self now, I’d do her a favor and shove that claustrophobic kid into the smallest locker I could find. 

The second wave washed out the negativity and was filled with dancing and smiles.

Now I am diving headfirst into wave number three, trying to catch up with the decade of interviews, music videos, and solo albums. There is a lot of work left to do.

My hatred of my younger self’s need to be different has scarred me in many ways: emotionally, mentally, spiritually, you name it. The regret I feel for jumping on the One Direction bandwagon 11 years late will forever haunt my soul. Luckily, whenever I feel ashamed of my past, I can crank “Midnight Memories,” dance like a lunatic alone in my room, and forget all about my problematic past.