The Bottom Line
In one fell swoop One Direction bring two 30 year old punk classics to their horde of young fans around the worldwide. Fortunately, in covering Blondie and the Undertones for Comic Relief, the group takes on the songs with an intensity and power in their vocals that just might generate a few converts among older music fans. This record could have been a disaster in the making, but instead it is a joyful performance that will raise armloads of money for a great cause.
- Celebratory energy
- Choice of songs to mash up
- Strong, slightly ragged vocals
- Lyrical questions
- Written by Debbie Harry, Nigel Harrison, and John O'Neill
- Produced by Julian Bunetta
- Released February 2013 by Syco
Guide Review - One Direction - "One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)"
Turn back the clock to 1979 and the UK had already succumbed to the charms of Blondie's intelligent blend of punk and power pop but the US was a tougher nut to crack. It took a disco smash, "Heart Of Glass," to put them on the pop charts here, but they followed it with the fire of "One Way Or Another" and brought punk spirit to the top 40. Over in the UK in late 1978 the Undertones had thrashed their way into the top 40 with the punk anthem "Teenage Kicks." It is a song that legendary BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel took to his grave as his favorite song of all time.
Now, 30 years later, in a move of significant chutzpah, the world's biggest boy band One Direction mash up the two songs and come out swinging. Unfortunately, many older music fans are likely to look askance before even listening to the new recording. It is their mistake. Not only is the performance a strong one, it is a lesson in popular music history for young fans that demands respect. Need I also say that as an official Comic Relief single it is all for a good cause?
The layering of the "Na Na Na Na" bridge from "One Way Or Another" with the chorus, "I wanna hold you wanna hold you tight, get teenage kicks right through the night" is truly inspiring. Every member of the group attacks the song with voices more ragged than usual. One Direction sound here like a band that wants to dominate pop the world over. All is not perfect as lyrically "One Way Or Another" is nearly a song about the finer points of stalking, and that can be just a bit creepy coming from young males. However, unlike Debbie Harry in the original, One Direction don't lean into that aspect of the song and instead turn it all into a celebratory romp.
If you have turned your nose up at One Direction as simply the latest manufactured product in the music industry machine, this might be the record to encourage you to listen again. If you are a music fan of a certain age, you know that these are songs and bands that should be heard by a new generation of listeners. Kudos to One Direction for a risk taken and mission achieved. This is perhaps the best record yet of their young career.