Unquirky: Were boy bands really just a phase?

Let me tell you about the other day. I was standing in the shower, letting lukewarm water run down my face dramatically and thinking about the freshman Halloween experience I didn’t get this year, when suddenly, my Spotify played “What Makes You Beautiful.”

I didn’t know how to react. I hadn’t heard that song in years. Memories of middle school flooded through me instantly. I tasted Fruit by the Foot and Babybel Cheese circles. I felt the tight scrunchie on my scalp that I wore to try to look like Ariana Grande. I felt 12 years old again.

Picture it: It’s 2012, and you’re sitting in your room under your One Direction fleece blanket, staring at your 12 feet by 16 feet poster of Harry Styles and spraying your PINK by Victoria’s Secret perfume on every single thing in your room. Life is good.

OK, snap out of it. It’s not 2012; it’s 2020, a year we can collectively agree to call the literal worst year ever. Every time you think it couldn’t be any worse, it gets worse. But I don’t mean to be negative. This year really sucks. But you know what doesn’t? One Direction.

In sixth grade, I started every single day by listening to 1D on my way to school, and then again when I did my homework, then again in the shower and then again before I went to sleep — every day. My mother begged me to stop playing it in my room. Every time we went on a family trip, the AUX mysteriously skipped me since no one else in my family was a Directioner. Everyone told me it was just a phase. But they were wrong. How could I ever “get over” One Direction? My mind couldn’t wrap itself around the concept.

I’m really not sure when exactly the obsession stopped. Maybe it was when I stopped going to Claire’s every week. Or when I decided I was too cool to wear Skechers to school. Sometime between my tweenage years and my adolescence, the sticker of Harry Styles on my iPod Touch fell off, and I didn’t really care.

Alright, so back to the other day. I hopped out of the shower and queued every One Direction song I could remember. It was the classic tweenage moment. Dancing around my bathroom, I pretended I was in a music video, using my hairbrush as a mic, flipping my hair back and forth and overall not having a care in the world. I felt like Taylor Swift in the “You Belong With Me” video (pre-glow up).

Five hours later, I realized that it was 3 in the morning, and I hadn’t done anything I was supposed to. And strangely, it didn’t make me anxious at all. Even through my sleep deprivation, my One Direction high kept me happy through the next day.

Over the next couple of days, it became a sort of ritual. Whenever I felt overwhelmed by school or wanted a break, I put in my earphones and blasted One Direction until the stress subsided or my ears started to hurt, whichever came first. But every day, I vibed a little less.

Even I have to admit that eventually, it got kinda old. Listening to the same songs over and over just didn’t feel the same as it did the first time, and the calming powers of Zayn’s voice diminished exponentially over time. I tried to force myself to enjoy it. I wanted to get back that feeling of nostalgia for the happy, easy times. I wanted to dance in my bathroom for five hours. But it never came. The more I tried to force myself to listen to it, the more I slowly started to hate it, so I decided to stop before I could ruin it for myself forever.

I guess what I’m trying to say is: It really was just a phase. But that’s OK. That’s pretty much the whole point of a boy band. You listen, you gush over them, you move on. It’s the circle of life. Who knows, maybe in another five years I’ll relapse again into the One Direction drain. And amid a global pandemic, how much more can we ask for?

Anna Velychko is a freshman writing about art and pop culture. Her column, “Unquirky,” ran every other Wednesday.