the westminster news
Published by the students of Westminster School
By Sung Min Cho ’22
“Take Me Home” is my favorite studio album from One Direction. I live in New England. I am a Sixth Former. I take those weird classes that make me pay the ridiculous $95 fee and am handed back an assortment of numbers that go from 1 to 5. So, I need music that can elevate the ugly to the happy. I think of it like alchemy, and “Take Me Home” by One Direction, imbued with an explosion of synths, tossed in a dressing of boring-yet-timeless romantic lyricism, is a lot like a philosopher’s stone. The album transmutes an hour of a cold, base, metallic day — the wretched — to an ethereal, golden, sentimental experience — the sublime. Go listen to “Take Me Home.”
1. “Live While We’re Young”
This song is a classic. Famous. Been heard a million times. Has 700 million views on YouTube — probably for good reason, and it deserves to be at the top of the rankings for “Take Me Home.” The opening guitar riff is stellar. There is not a whole ton of creativity in the construction, but often, I think simplicity can be the key to elegance. Here, the simple nature of the guitar entrance makes it almost a name to the song; when you hear it, you immediately know what song is playing. In a media environment suffused with more artists than there are people in heaven, that is important, I would say.
The lyrics too, are powerful. Sixth Formers in English covered the Shakespeare classic “Hamlet” this fall, looking at whether Prince Hamlet of Denmark was right in his hesitancy to seek vengeance for his father against King Claudius. The human nature of hesitancy is reflected in “Live While We’re Young;” when Zayn and Niall sing “it’s now or never/don’t overthink, just let it go,” we are reminded that our days under the sun are limited and considering the impossibility of perfect information or perfect knowledge, it is often in our best interest in cases of importance to act on whatever information, however flawed it may be.
Considering additional details, the metronomic beat of the drum resting in the background that continues throughout the song is soothing; for me at least, it engenders a feeling of stability and predictability. When in life it proves impossible to see through the smoke and understand what will transpire next, that sense of continuity is priceless.
The triad of “crazy,” “crazy,” “crazy,” plays off the start of the next line “I know we only met…” and that sense of back and forth is what makes this piece so compelling; additionally, the 0-sound in “know,” is accentuated, adding to the texture of the song.
Is “Magic” creative? Probably not. It is highly repetitive, but I think that just makes it more addictive.
The piano interludes are serene, reminiscent of a meadow teeming with edelweiss flowers in a mountain cove in Austria.
The central idea of this piece is magic, and the term is referenced thirteen times throughout the body of the song. The chorus line, “you’ve got this spell on me, I don't know what to believe,” is especially interesting because it rejects to a degree, the scientific worldview of the Western world. Biology would disagree, but here, the boys posit that love (lust is more accurate) is beyond and perhaps should stay beyond any empirical terminology or measurement; thus, One Direction is adding to the larger cultural debate on whether love is little more than a carefully calibrated oxytocin cocktail or a nuanced summation of sociocultural interactions.
Another line, “I want everyone to know now,” is impressive. Transparency is underrated, and the emphasis on honesty here adds a valuable moral message to Magic. Yet, my favorite line in this piece is Liam and Louis’ bridge: “They say that we're no good together/And it’s never gonna work out.” Now, there is nothing more that I hate than a half-baked public opinion that takes on a life of its own. So, I commend that Liam and Louis are able to ignore and refute less than sound advice from strangers, the “they,” and pursue their goals without fear of failure. The “never gonna work out” section is motivational; there will always be those, enemies, friends, family who deliberately or inadvertently seek to undermine personal goals, and they will never disappear. Part of growing up is learning to listen to those voices, then delete them from memory.
3. “Nobody Compares”
The line that most captures my attention here is “you’re so London.” London is a fantastic place, beyond the classic Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace, the British Museum, I would say, is the gem of the city. Placing a London reference is powerful; it is a homage to One Direction’s British heritage and an immediate shot of serotonin to the Anglophiles of Spotify.
The central message of the song is that “nobody compares to you.” Beyond the cute romanticism of the line, I think its real value lies in its explicit support of Greek arete, the notion of a person striving to employ the totality of their abilities to attain excellence. Excellence, here, is not just academic or athletic, but having wisdom and knowledge of the highest kind in any pursuit. This person, according to Harry, has attained that excellence and is clearly so distinguished that no one would be anywhere close to competing with her.
4. “Over Again”
The guitar strumming introduction here is depressing, which some people are into. Personally, depressing entrances are not my jam, but immediately following that comes a terrific line: “so we can start it all over again.” What most promptly comes to mind when I listen to “Over Again” is the college process. Applying to college, hearing story after story of falling in love with a dream school, and the hours of research, the days of writing, is neatly summed up by Liam and Niall’s verse, “And I will give you all my heart.” Ironically, Sixth Formers give tears, sweat, labor, energy to their EA, ED schools for what, really? To leave Westminster and start it all over again.
For me, Westminster has been my life. Every shred of energy I could muster from my aching bones, I put towards Westminster. A large part of it is because Westminster has been my home, and because I love Westminster, in part for its positives (which is easy to do) but its flaws as well (which is harder to do). It has been difficult for me to comprehend and appreciate the magnitude of the fact that 10 out of 12 terms, or 83% of my time here has passed, and that very soon, I will have departed, found a new home. Exciting? Maybe. For nostalgic me, it harbors the risk of landing at a place that could never be as special as Westminster has been to me.
5. “She’s Not Afraid”
There is a lot to be afraid of in this world, like climate change or bouncers. So, when you hear of a person who’s not afraid, you should pay attention, like the girl referenced in “She’s Not Afraid.” I feel like this song should be considered a boarding school anthem, to be completely honest. The thrill of adventure is encapsulated in the lines “the top cut low,” and “addicted to the feeling of letting go,” but that play hard mentality is then contrasted with the introduction of the work hard mentality, as seen in the verse “wanna see how hard I’m gonna work,” and “just trying to test me.” There was a week in the fall term where I had five tests in three days. Yeah, I was pretty afraid. Again, “She’s Not Afraid” has a response to this as well: “it’s just so hard.” A good summary of the fall term.