As sinister as it is that their yearly album drop is just days before the holiday shopping season begins, and as much crap as they get dealt for recycling vintage rock with slightly more swoon-worthy harmonies, One Direction deserves a lot of our appreciation for what they do for young women. By deciding to belong to teenage girls, One Direction decided that they didn't need to be taken seriously.
Boy bands are harmless first romantic interests, gateways to more diverse and better music, and a golden promise that there are men who don't think your every thought and feeling is silly. But what happens when one-fifth of your daydream is out the door? When Zayn Malik parted ways with the other four-fifths of One Direction in March, there were many tears to shed, many pieces to reshuffle, and no way to know for sure if the fantasy could continue unmarred.
As it turns out, boy bands are fragile ecosystems, and when the plates shift, a fantasy may fall. As the news of One Direction's first post-Zayn single crept out onto the internet this morning, everyone was asking the same question: "What does this lame sauce song tell me about the new power structure within the reigning champion-of-my-heart boy band?"
The answer? A lot.
Harry is the new Zayn: Harry started establishing his position as the new resident brooder of One Direction before the original resident brooder had even signed off with a "Remember when you had your own life?"
As you can see, in the video for "Steal My Girl" he is wearing a trench coat and really long hair, and no one is letting him be a playful scamp:
He tries very hard not to make jokes about it, but ultimately fails because he is still an adorable rascal even under all that brood. Thank God.
But in the announcement clip for "Drag Me Down" it looks like Harry has taken on "the mysterious one" duties full time. This comes as a shock considering a weirdly serious boat ride conversation in which Harry says that Niall deserves the title and Liam expresses relief that he is not a factory worker. But they also share a chuckle about that time that they almost kicked Zayn out of the band, so I guess this is actually the least prescient conversation in history.
Liam is the new Harry: Liam was recently voted the third hottest man in the world and therefore, I guess the hottest member of One Direction, by a randomly selected group of deranged social anarchists. The only thing I can think of to blame this massive coup on is his exceedingly adorable relationship with Sophia Smith.
Harry Styles does not have a princess in his life, which is apparently impeding our ability to see him for the grade-A prince he is.
Liam is also the new Simon Cowell: Liam appears to own One Direction now, based on the vocal time that he got on "Drag Me Down," his writing credits on more than half of Four, and the fact that he is apparently the only one allowed to speak in official promotional videos these days.
Louis is the new "Daddy Direction": As you know, "Daddy Direction," is the nickname that was once given to Liam due to his tendency to be bossy as hell and hate fun. But Louis literally impregnated someone recently, so.
Niall is nearing death: Niall is like a puppy at a picnic that is really well-attended by people who react with genuine enthusiasm when he chases his own tail. He's been doing it for five years and it's getting less cute to us and less fun for him, and he's not really sure what's happening anymore. He's dizzy, and he wants to lie down.
We've sucked everything out of him, including his physical tears:
Zayn is dead: