I never got the whole One Direction thing, nor do I get the Five Seconds of Summer thing either.
I mean, of course I get it - I grew up alongside the modern boy band phenom. New Kids On The Block, Take That... Dire Straits...
The thing is, The Boy Band has always been a really important part of what makes the music industry tick. The idea that four or five (five seems to be the best number) kids from the projects with questionable musical pedigrees but pretty faces can help keep tweens and teenage girls happy, bring their parents to the verge of a financial crisis and keep not only record labels in business but also, and more importantly, the merchandise and memorabilia sectors alive... it's a powerful thing.
Of course I got the whole One Direction thing. On that level. But there were only ever two things that ever made me pay attention to them. The first was that photo circulating where Harry has a splitting resemblance to Rizzo in Grease. The second of course was Zayn. What a cutie.
So Zayn took a leaf out of the Geri Halliwell playbook and went solo. He bode is time and has finally surfaced with the song that is currently spilling out of every pop loving teen's bedroom - Pillow Talk.
It's not a bad solo debut by any standards. It's soulful in a kind of Craig David way, and it has crashed into the top of the charts around the world this week and outcharted pretty much every One Direction single in the process in most markets.
When Geri left the Spice Girls and made the world stop for a few minutes while we all contemplated the consequences, she eventually resurfaced with something that was a little camp, a little sophisticated and a little unexpected when she dropped Look At Me.
Zayn though, has simply gone the sexy route. The buck naked route. But, not him. Oh no, no, no.
It's insight into how the music industry works. When you're a boy bander, whipping off your top with the strength of numbers is the done thing. But when you're a solo male artist, when it comes to videos, it's all about getting the girls to strip if you want to express your own sexy side. And that's where the crux of the matter is. If you're a solo female artist, you're gonna have to show some skin if you want to get your video out there.
I lost count of how many gals got their kit off in the video for Pillow Talk. I'm sure there are hundreds of thousands of girls watching that video who are probably channeling their anger at each and everyone of those models in the clip right now. Hell, they've probably dipped some of their old Barbies in oil and are treating them like voodoo dolls. The indignation of getting naked with their boy!
But from an adult's perspective it's kind of sad that Bouha Kazmi's video treatment has gone in this direction. Don't get me wrong, it's moody, it's effective and it matches the tone of the song even if Zayn seems to be keeping things a bit restrained. But I can't help but feeling like it's objectification of each of the ladies at every level while Zayn's images are bit more Flemish painting meets modern Noir in the boudoir. I find it kind of awkward in a way.
There's one blink and you'll miss it scene where two of the girls are naked but for some boxing gloves. They're all oiled up and battling it out, and I really feel for one of the girls, because it looks as if as she goes in for the punch, the twenty five inch stilettos she's wearing slip on the sound stage and she has to correct herself.
But that's what happens in paradise and a war zone. At the end of the day we have what could be shaping up to be one of the year's first big hits, and already over 60 million viewings on Youtube to prove me wrong. Or right. Because isn't a video of it's nature just another reminder to young girls that you've gotta be sexy, desirable and prepared to act like a bit of set dressing? Help me out here.
I miss the nineties riot grrrls!
Dave Di Vito
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Dave Di Vito is a writer, teacher and former curator.He's also the author of the Vinyl Tiger series and Replace The Sky.
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