One Direction graduate to Radio 2 with 'mature sounding' new rock album

Radio 1 and Radio 2 in tug of war after folky strumming and stadium anthems replace bubblegum pop on the group’s new album

Of all the predicaments facing the BBC, listeners struggling to distinguish between Radio 1 and Radio 2 was never one of them. One, after all, is the home of Lady Gaga and Eminem while the other has milder offerings such as Rod Stewart and Elton John.

Yet, in an unlikely turn of events, One Direction are wreaking havoc on such clear delineations, setting the twerkers of Radio 1 against the cardigan-wearing balladeers of its sister station.

Their latest single, "Story of my Life", has been picked up by Radio 2 and placed on heavy rotation. The track also sits on Radio 1’s A-playlist where it sits alongside the Arctic Monkeys and Eminem.

Both station’s three-tier playlists are designed to reflect the editorial interest of the station. Tracks that make it on to the A-list can be played up to 20 times a week.

Though artists such as Adele and Ed Sheeran have known to cross both stations, such duplication between the two stations is frowned upon by the BBC Trust, which instructed Radio 1 to target teenage listeners and has mandated Radio 2 to ensure that it offers a distinctive service that caters for an older audience.

A BBC spokesman said: “Both Radio 1 and Radio 2 make decisions to playlist songs with listeners in mind. So while both felt this song would appeal to their audiences, the listening experience would be vastly different, as the stations’ tone and mix of music means they have unique and utterly distinctive sounds.”

The tug-of-war over One Direction is indicative of two stations in an aggressive period of transformation. Radio 1 has been under pressure from its commercial rivals and the BBC Trust to make the station younger after it was revealed the average age of its audience had grown from 29 to 32. Radio 2, once home to tunes by Val Doonican and Mantovani, has long since reinvented itself as a modern, mainstream station and overtook Radio 1 at the start of the last decade.

Either way, there is one clear beneficiary of the battle for the band, and that’s the quintet themselves. Teenagers generally do not respond well to their parents appropriating their musical passions. But One Direction, who have sold 19 million singles and 10 million albums since being manufactured by The X-Factor, may be preparing to wave goodbye to their young fanbase.

Midnight Memories contains little of the club-friendly R&B which dominates the single charts. Instead it features  guitar-led homages to Def Leppard’s 80s glam metal, replicas of The Who’s power-chords, a nod to The Police and several songs which tap into the current vogue for folk-pop.

Click here to read a review of One Direction's new album

The songs, written by the band members on their tour bus and recorded in hotel rooms, is a conscious attempt to broaden their audience, said Rob Stringer, chairman of Columbia, One Direction’s record label. “Radio 2 has really jumped on board and played this, and we’ve never been played on that station before,” he enthused.

Midnight Memories is on course to become the biggest UK album of the year after it sold 115,000 copies on the day of its release. But the band’s change of sound prompted a mixed response in the US, where they hope to break in to the “adult contemporary” radio stations.

One reviewer wrote: “It’s reminiscent of when US record executives changed The Beatles’ Rubber Soul to better position it among the burgeoning folk scene of the mid-1960s. The only difference is that Rubber Soul was a little bit better.”

But in an article titled “Why grown-ups should give One Direction a chance”, Andrew Romano of the Daily Beast called “Story of My Life” one of the best songs of the year – “a gentle acoustic loper that starts out sounding a lot like Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer” before bursting into a big, simple, beautiful hook that gets stuck in your head”.

The “rock” direction is credited to member Niall Horan, who plays guitar during their shows. The new songs were designed to deliver anthemic uplift when the band graduate to headlining stadiums, including Wembley next summer. With Lady Gaga veering into art-pop, One Direction remain the best hope for an industry that has suffered another year of decline.

Amid relentless touring and brand partnerships, One Direction are due to release another album in November 2014 and will receive a huge payout if they stay together until the end of their three-album Columbia deal.

Right at home in the battle of the blands

When female pop stars such as Miley Cyrus “grow up”, they feel required to throw their clothes off; when a boy band such as One Direction go mature, their already slightly tweedy image simply gets more buttoned-up.

That’s probably the most depressing message in the video for One Direction’s new single “Story of My Life”, as Liam Payne wanders moodily around a darkroom in a waistcoat.

Apart from that, the sheer blatancy of the band’s cross-over assault is quite funny. Mumfords-style faux-acoustic guitar strums in the first verse are followed by booming pop beats familiar from their other hits; a sequence showing Harry Styles and co looking at  family photos in existential contemplation is followed by Zayn Malik cheerily popping up in a girl’s bedroom.

No wonder Radios 1 and 2 are confused. One Direction have come for us all.   

The blurring of the  playlists of the nation’s most popular stations also seems  inevitable, however uncomfortable it may make the BBC Trust.

The distinction between them ceased being absolute 20 years ago, as punk fans hit middle age, and pushed fans of Sinatra-style easy listening and swing over the  demographic edge.

While 6 Music now caters for ageing Peel fans and their descendants, 1 and 2 are more closely linked than ever.

The pictures on Radio 2’s playlist website are like the ghosts of ideal Christmas futures for One Direction. There’s Gary Barlow, sitting pensively at his piano,  waiting for the inspiration for another bland ballad to hit. And there’s the one they’d  all like to be, Elton – once, like Take That, a Radio 1  evergreen.

Olly Murs and Ellie  Goulding have already made the switch from 1 to 2. Eminem and Arctic Monkeys give 1’s playlist a bit of edge; but no more than 2’s Manic Street Preachers.

What comes across from both lists is that chart pop culture has rarely been more bland.

One Direction should be right at home everywhere for some time to come.

Nick Hasted

Arts and Entertainment
Rhino Doodle by Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film

Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
Arts and Entertainment
Comedian 'Weird Al' Yankovic

Is the comedy album making a comeback?

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sue Perkins and Mel Giedroyc, centre, are up for Best Female TV Comic for their presenting quips on The Great British Bake Off

Arts and Entertainment
Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard in the TV adaptation of 'Fargo'

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules

Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'

Arts and Entertainment
<p>Troubled actor Robert Downey Jr cements his comeback from drug problems by bagging the lead role in Iron Man. Two further films follow</p>

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book

Arts and Entertainment
Panic! In The Disco's Brendon Urie performs on stage

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

    The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

    What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
    Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

    Finding the names for America’s shame

    The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
    Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

    Inside a church for Born Again Christians

    As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
    Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

    Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
    Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

    Incredible survival story of David Tovey

    Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little