It doesn’t look like the recent high-profile departure of founding member Zayn Malik is dragging the remaining One Direction guys down much. Nine months after the members of this British-Irish boy band dropped their fourth album on expectant fans comes the group’s first single from a fifth album.
“Drag Me Down”—a mid-tempo ballad with hints of R&B and EDM influence—zoomed in at No. 3 on the Hot 100, making it the highest debuting song on Billboard’s mainstream singles chart so far this year. And that U.S. performance is actually among the weakest anywhere on the planet. The track has already reached No. 1 in 80 countries, and it became the most-streamed song in a week in the U.K. (notching slightly more than 2 million streams).
Commenting on this wildfire, globe-engulfing success, Niall Horan said in a radio interview, “When we dropped the single we didn’t really realize that was the reaction it was going to get. You bring out music and never know what [the reaction is] going to be like, so to do it five years down the line and to have your most successful single now is pretty good.”
One Direction’s songs often split the difference between romantic and racy, with the band’s more recent material trending toward the latter. So call “Drag Me Down” retro, if you want, ’cause this quintet-turned-quartet actually uses the tune as an excuse to take turns singing about a girl who does exactly the opposite of dragging a guy down.
Instead, the faithful, encouraging woman at the song’s center lifts her man up, so much so that he praises her (via 1D’s collective vocals) for helping him succeed in life. In fact, he couldn’t imagine facing his existence without her:
“Baby, you’re my only reason,” Harry coos.
“If I didn’t have you, there would be nothing left,” Louis croons.
“All my life, you stood by me,” Liam exults.
“With your love, nobody can drag me down,” Niall insists.
And if that last inspiring sentiment is worth singing once, it’s obviously worth singing a whole bunch of times as the guys all join in on the repeated chorus: “Nobody, nobody/Nobody can drag me down/Nobody, nobody/Nobody can drag me down.”
Cue the screaming fans in arenas around the world. Hey, at least this time they’re going crazy over something cool.
This is typically the point in a 1D review where I’m forced to begin a new section with the word but, then detail all the things that need to be called out as problematic. You know, that gratuitous, suggestive stuff that seems to always get shoved in around the edges of the positive material.
There’s none of that here. No buts. Not in the song, anyway.
But (see, I just can’t help myself), if I know One Direction (and I’ve reviewed all of their albums so far), I do still have my doubts about how representative this song will be of the band’s fifth album as a whole. Or of the concert tour. Or of the new videos. Or of these guys’ general influence on tweens and teens living everywhere from Bismarck to Bahrain.
Isolate this track, though, and I will gladly grant that it doesn’t drag listeners down … no matter what the title might say.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.