Boy oh boy band


Half a lifetime ago, I was somewhat of a boy band aficionado. My childhood was soaked in New Kids on the Block, but things really picked up speed in the late 90s when we had so many options: Boyz II Men, 98 Degrees, Hanson, Backstreet Boys, and the ultimate, NSYNC.

I was obsessed with NSYNC. I knew every piece of trivia, every nuance to every song (remember when Justin dropped down the shaft and landed in a crouch and then did that chin-lift/smile at the camera and we all dropped dead of love?), and the fact that JC’s last name was pronounced “sha-ZAY.” When I was 17, Laura and I drove 5 hours to Denver for their show at Mile High Stadium, and after the opening acts (Pink and Sisqo), screamed like maniacs along with tens of thousands of other girls. It was their “No Strings Attached” tour – you know the one. The one in which they were lowered to the stage like marionettes? YES.


When I went to college and became an adult in the eyes of the law, NSYNC dropped on the list of “things worth losing my mind over.” I realized that I probably wasn’t going to wind up marrying JC. Justin was going solo. Lance had been batting for the other team all along. Besides, at that point there was SO MUCH Shania and Faith and Martina and Dixie Chicks to listen to. I heard about the new groups – O-Town and Westlife and eventually the Jonas Brothers – but really, the boy band era was over for me.

But that phase couldn’t last forever. Because One Direction.

One Direction burst on the scene a few years ago with the kind of hooky, catchy, bubblegum pop appropriate for their fresh-faced, teenage selves. They spun on the beach and played in the waves with their arms spread and bounced a lot. They were babies. And I tuned them out. Sure, I knew their big songs from the radio – but I wasn’t paying attention. I certainly didn’t know any of their names.


That was then. But this is now. HARRY ZAYN LOUIS LIAM NIALL.

Say what you will about my musical taste – but about a year ago, I heard “Story of My Life” and thought, “This is surprisingly good.” So I looked up the video, and found them all… adorable. Suddenly I was captivated by these guys – not in a predatory, pedophile kind of way (ew), but just because they’re incredibly likeable. They’re funny. They’re well-spoken. And despite millions of dollars and a mind-boggling level of fame, they’ve somehow managed not to go the way of the Biebs (that is, psycho).

one direction

I don’t want to marry them – I just want to cook them soup.

I think that what I like most about these guys is that with the exception of Harry (who between his style, charisma, and swagger is obviously Best in Show), I don’t think they were destined to be famous. They have average-to-good voices. They have average-to-good looks. They DO have fantastic hair, every one of them – but if they’d never had a stylist, they’d still look like they did before fame:


But they had a chance at fame and jumped on it. What are the odds?

Recently, in an effort to ignore all of the horrible news in the world, I went on a YouTube binge and watched, um, A LOT of videos of these guys – because if you have a choice between depression and joy, please just choose joy. One Direction is so much better than fear and sadness and terrorism (no one can challenge that statement). Anyway, this “research” led me to some opinions – which I will share here in a bulleted list:

  • Their voices, best to worst: Liam, Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis.
  • Their current hair, best to worst: Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis, Liam.
  • Their style, best to worst: TIE BETWEEN ALL OF THEM. Good job, stylist.
  • Who I want to hang out with, most to least: Niall, Harry, Louis, Liam, Zayn.
  • Current favorite song: “Steal My Girl,” duh.
  • Sure, Harry is the favorite of millions of girls. But that still leaves at least several hundred thousand girls who find each of the other guys their favorite. So no one can feel sorry for any of them.

Well, if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably a 14-year old girl and my new best friend.  And if after all this you STILL can’t get behind One Direction, at least watch this cover of “Story of My Life.”

Okay, and fine – also watch this. It’s a nugget of fun:



  1. Val on December 7, 2014 at 9:04 PM

    College. Sophomore year. Julie and I went to a concert in Dallas together and screamed for Clay Aiken.

    Clay. Aiken.

  2. Michael on December 7, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    Spewed my drink at Val’s comment. My friend Liz went with her daughter to see One Direction. She’s still not ready to give up her crush on Donnie (who is a hella fine actor, btw), but she was impressed! I think this is where I am supposed to type “this post is bae!” and go to bed. The world is killin’ me…one headline at a time.

  3. mrs. chesney on December 7, 2014 at 9:38 PM

    I feel like you are nearing an intervention.
    *luke bryan 2015*

  4. Andrea on December 7, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    Annie, you have made so many fine, beautiful, touching posts. And I love them all. But this one? May be my favorite. One of my favorites. Top ten, fo’ sho’. You are one of my favorite people. You make me smile so much.

  5. Juliette on December 7, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Clay. Aiken.

    It’s true. X-D

    My only issue with 1D? The lack of dancing. If you can produce a video that remedies this, I’m on board. But “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” was a near-perfect pop song RIPE for a delightfully choreographed music video– and i was disappointed to find that it was basically 3.5 minutes of fist pumping and hair tossing.

    If LMNT can do it?! 1D should be able to do it too. I will take this awesomely bad video ( over the aforementioned anyday. (The best part starts at 2:41. If 1D would do that, all would be forgiven. :)

  6. kim! on December 7, 2014 at 10:37 PM

    annie parsons. we are such kindred spirits.
    I have gone to see the new kids twice in the last three years and screamed at the top of my lungs both times. the first time was with the backstreet boys and I almost died. then last year it was with boyz ii men. omg. and 98 degrees. so amazing. the only thing I do not agree with you on is harry’s current hair.
    my students came back from lunch last week and one of them said “MISS D! we were talking about you at lunch! kayleigh said car rides with you are the BEST because you make everyone listen to 90s boy bands the whole time!” and I was all DUHHHHHHHHHHH
    but also? my favorite memory from this whole season is driving back from practice with a car full of BOYS singing steal my girl at the top of our lungs. SOOOOOOO MUCH JOY. it makes my life so happy and I think “I hope this brings glory to the Lord because this is what I was made for.”

  7. Erin on December 8, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    All my girlfriends texted me like crazy on my honeymoon bc they were buying One D tickets for July and really needed to know if I was in. Clearly I’m going.

  8. diana on December 11, 2014 at 12:08 PM

    i love your transparency… this just lit up my thursday.

  9. K.C. Yatsko on December 16, 2014 at 2:06 AM

    Living with two 14-yr-olds means I listen to a LOT of 1D and I’m grateful they are as talented as they are. I was hooked from “You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful” onward… Totally impressed. Love the video – can’t wait to show the girls. Given that I can easily fall into NPR-induced depression on a daily basis, thanks for making me laugh. That video will be my NPR chaser.

  10. Joey on December 29, 2014 at 8:15 AM

    I hope you don’t go to jail for this post.

  11. […] broken hearts go, Zayn? Things will never be the same. In light of his departure, I have reordered my ranking of best voice to worst voice to Zayn, Liam, Harry, Niall, Louis (Louis will always be last) – because what can I say? Absence […]

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