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Track Review

If there's one constant in pop music, it's arguably, well, the pop part. As music trends come and go—from folk music and Motown in the '60s to disco and punk in the '70s to new wave and hair metal in the '80s to grunge and rap in the '90s to rehashed blends of all of those genres in the '00s—the one ever-present element is sparkly, attractive post-adolescents singing saccharine songs about young love.

It's a subjective list, to be sure. But pretty much any compilation of pop heartthrobs probably begins with Elvis Presley and The Beatles (if not Ol' Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra), expanding down through the decades to include the sigh-inducing likes of Ricky Nelson, David Cassidy, Shaun Cassidy, Leif Garrett and Debbie Gibson.

By the 1990s, the bubblegum industrial complex had firmly coalesced. Disney's star-making machine began minting icons such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and (moving into the 2000s) multi-format superstars Hilary Duff, Miley Cyrus and Selena Gomez, among many others. At this very moment—and the pop icon thing often is just a momentary one—heirs to the pop throne include Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

Meanwhile, marketing maestro Lou Pearlman realized in 1992 that if one heartthrob is good, a whole group of 'em is much better, an idea that yielded first the Backstreet Boys followed later by 'N Sync. Fast-forward to today, and we have One Direction, a British-Irish band that continues to pump out hits at a positively Beatle-esque rate. These five young men topped the American charts with two albums in 2012 alone. And since their arrival in late 2011, they've sold an astonishing 30 million albums worldwide.

Now Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson return with a single promoting their concert film, One Direction: This Is Us. The titular tune in question on "Best Song Ever" isn't (wink-wink) the song itself, but a song that a guy remembers dancing to the night he was swept off his feet by a pretty young lass at (where else?) a dance club.

"Maybe it's the way she walked straight into my heart and stole it," the infectious, upbeat ditty begins. "Through the doors and past the guards, just like she already owned it/I said, 'Can you give it back to me?'/She said, 'Never in your wildest dreams.'"

A long night of twitterpation-infused dancing follows: "And we danced all night to the best song ever/We knew every line, now I can't remember/How it goes/But I know that I won't forget her/'Cause we danced all night to the best song ever."

Gushy reminiscing (plus the boundary-free suggestion of dancing together till dawn), slides into some suggestive naughtiness a bit later: "She said her name was Georgia Rose and her daddy was a dentist/Said I had a dirty mouth (I got a dirty mouth), but she kissed me like she meant it." The proceedings flirt with something significantly steamier when the guy then asks, "I said, 'Can I take you home with me?'" To which the object of his affection admirably responds, "Never in your wildest dreams."

That's as "dirty" as things ever get here, as the balance of the song implies that this romance's shelf life was no longer than your average pop song. So like many pop hits through the years, the memories minted here are brief ones. Mostly, "Best Song Ever" recalls an infatuation-fueled plunge into a momentary lip-lock.

The video, meanwhile, is an intentionally farcical affair. In it, the band shows up at the office of a Hollywood movie mogul to talk about One Direction's forthcoming movie—namely how to market it. Each band member plays a movie studio counterpart, with Zayn Malik cross-dressing as a sultry assistant and Liam Payne portraying a stereotypically flamboyant and effeminate choreographer. Along the way, they sport an older-looking image and mingle in suggestive hip thrusts as they gleefully trash furniture in the studio's office.

Never mind, then, that bold claim "Best Song Ever." It isn't. Instead, the first single from the band's third album, Midnight Memories, is simply the latest superficial (and occasionally sensual) effort from the latest pop sensation to make the inevitable journey from a squeaky clean beginning to something decidedly less so as One Direction "progresses" along a well-worn pop-stardom path.

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