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You Light Up My World Like Nobody Else: A Definitive Ranking of the One Direction Albums

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

An ultimate throwback to our tween and teenage days, so many of us grew up with One Direction. They stole all of our hearts and still haven’t let them go, even a decade later. I remember very vividly collecting every possible piece of merch I could: perfumes, duct tape, bedding – you name it, I had it. One of the most successful boybands of all time for a reason, it was a challenge to rank their albums and pick out my favorite songs. Alas, I was able to finalize my rankings, from worst to best.

Up all night

As Jack Whitehall said, “I’ve always taken you seriously! Up All Night, that is my Sergeant Pepper, my friend.”

I think all directioners can agree with me on this one: Up All Night is their worst album. Formed on the X Factor, this album gave the boys their ticket to fame in the US. The definition of bubblegum pop, I mostly just listen to this album when I’m feeling nostalgic. The songs on this album are what you’d expect from a boyband in 2011 – nothing special. But, we did get “What Makes You Beautiful” and the stripes and suspenders era out of it!

My favorites: “Stand Up”, “Moments”, “One Thing”

TAKE ME HOME

This is where the nostalgia comes at full force. Their sophomore album, Take Me Home is a bit more mature than Up All Night. A diverse range of sounds, we have songs ranging from “They Don’t Know About Us” to “Rock Me”. The boys took the world by storm and at this point, everyone knew who One Direction was. Take Me Home brings me back to my middle school dances and staying up late at night reading fan fiction on Wattpad.

My favorites: “Over Again”, “Irresistible”, “Rock Me”

FOUR

This might be an unpopular opinion, but FOUR is one of my least favorite 1D albums. Sorry directioners! It has some of my absolute favorite songs in their discography but also some forgettable ones (“Illusion”, “Change Your Ticket”, and “Spaces”). It just feels like there’s too much happening with no cohesiveness, from genres and stories. I absolutely love the sound of their voices here, but something about FOUR just doesn’t hit the same as their other albums.

My favorites: “Act My Age”, “Fireproof”, “Fool’s Gold”

MIDNIGHT MEMORIES

I have very distinct memories of freaking out when this album was leaked. Everyone was posting the songs on Tumblr and I remember loving every song I heard.

Ah, the good old days.

Midnight Memories is the album where the boys began to discover their sound. Much more mature than their previous albums, this one explores different sounds, concepts, and lyrics. With 18 songs on the album, it’s a great collection of great songs. There’s a mix of everything for everyone. Truly, a no skip album. It’s an out of body experience. An extra point goes towards this being my favorite 1D era. I mean, c’mon – frat boy Harry. Must I say more?

My favorites: “Story of My Life”, “Strong”, “Through the Dark”

MADE IN THE A.M.

The last and only album without Zayn, Made In The A.M. is one of my favorites. It’s clear that this is their most mature sounding album and is lyrically beautiful. There’s even a hint of indie with some songs. Each song is just so unique from each other with sounds that we haven’t heard yet, like “Wolves”. Another reason why I love this album is because we got to hear more from Niall and Louis, even if that was because of Zayn’s departure. Despite losing such a strong voice, I think the boys did great without him. If the boys ever come back from their hiatus, this is the sound I want to hear from them.

My favorites: “If I Could Fly”, “Walking in the Wind”, “End of the Day”

And to think we started from “Na Na Na” and ended with “I Want to Write You a Song”. A decade later and I still find myself sobbing and having dance parties to their songs. This was probably the hardest ranking I’ve ever had to do, and honestly, it might change in a year. Who knows – maybe I’ll change my mind on FOUR someday.

Makayla Holbrook is a Campus Correspondent here at HC Hawai'i and majoring in Secondary Education with a focus on English. Outside of writing, you can find her watching cooking competition shows, getting lost in romance novels, playing with her dogs, and trying new coffee shops.
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