Every One Direction Song Ever, Ranked From Worst to Best
One Direction have amassed a relatively hefty discography in their five-year tenure as the most in-demand boy band on Earth. Pushed well beyond their collective limits of exhaustion, they're currently on a hiatus that just might stretch into infinity.
But their hard work sure did wonders for fans! We were gifted with nonstop touring, album releases and endless tabloid fodder: Home-wrecker Harry Styles strikes thrice! Every Larry conspiracy theory that'll live on well into Freddie Reign's college years! Niall's lithe frame is dragged down by some rogue golf clubs! Liam battles the Empire State Building on Twitter! Zayn!!!
Lather, rinse and repeat, until the sheer endlessness of it all caused Zayn Malik to quit. That no one opted out of those nightmare contracts sooner is a true testament to the power of Syco's fine print. But things have slowed to a halt in 1D's world, like a tortoise making its way through gelatin as the sun bears down on him, melting his soft fleshy parts to goo until nothing but a cracked shell remains. One Direction have vanished beneath the soil, for now.
As such, I've painstakingly honored their legacy below, the way only a critical longtime fan who has seen them in concert 20 TIMES can: Behold the definitive ranking of every song in One Direction's catalog.
Trust, these were not easy decisions to make.
91. "Little Things"
This song is a searing backhanded compliment. The blow inherent in "Little Things," and its nitpicky, insecurity-probing lyrics isn't lessened by its sweet melody -- no matter how good the guys may sound on it. Its co-writer, Ed Sheeran, considered this a castoff track for a reason.
A blatant attempt at a Coldplay ripoff yet somehow more boring than that band's dullest, "Infinity" gives us definitive proof that member Harry Styles has the worst taste in his own music.
89. "Something Great"
The Philip Phillips b-side the world never needed, a wounded Louis Tomlinson shrieks this song to a (merciful) close. Harry claims co-writing credits here, quelle surprise.
88. "If I Could Fly"
Harry helped write this one, too.
87. "Love You Goodbye"
Not even allusions to breakup sex could make this power ballad about the dissolution of a longterm relationship worthy of repeat listens.
86. "Don't Forget Where You Belong"
A sappy call for staying grounded when you are outrageously famous and rich. No human who isn't also a member of One Direction can relate to this song.
85. "Long Way Down"
A sad bellyflop into a pool of soft-rock mediocrity.
84. "I Want"
A song about women and all their materialistic inclinations. Hard pass.
Forgettable Ed Sheeran Contribution #2.
"I slept on your doorstep," Liam sings, all too believably.
81. "I Should Have Kissed You"
The kind of peppy, overproduced pop song a fictional band would play in a low-budget straight-to-DVD Disney movie.
80. "Another World"
Auto-Tuned to hell and back, when only 2/5 of the group actually needed it.
79. "Save You Tonight"
Their voices are nearly indiscernible here, harmonizing be damned. One of the many low-budget club beats littering Up All Night.
78. "I Wish"
A creepy anthem of lingering, unrequited love.
77. "Over Again"
Again, please don't let your first introduction to Ed Sheeran be through the songs he wrote for One Direction.
76. "Midnight Memories"
A pop-punk-lite reject that would've been better suited as a b-side to one of your lesser, late-game scene bands like Boys Like Girls or We The Kings. It's perfectly acceptable as a stadium singalong.
75. "Right Now"
It was very brave of One Direction to begin a song with Louis' vocals.
74. "You & I"
One Direction were never meant to be balladeers, but at least "You & I" produced one of the most iconic glory notes in all of pop history, cementing Zayn's place as an otherworldly vocalist. Also, this vine.
73. "Ready to Run"
Horse movie song. Phil Collins if he were bad at his job.
72. "Little Black Dress"
'70s hard rock that somehow feels long at two minutes and 38 seconds.
71. "Same Mistakes"
One Direction's attempt at Keane, who no one is checking for.
70. "Up All Night"
Delightfully innocent, except when it's not.
69. "Half A Heart"
The only way these lyrics would be more ridiculous is if they were in Simlish.
68. "One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)"
A decent mashup of two perfectly acceptable (if also unremarkable) covers. The video certainly gives this one a boost.
67. "Back For You"
The beginning of One Direction's misguided attempt at pop-punk.
66. "C'mon C'mon"
65. "No Control"
No song featuring Louis Tomlinson so heavily could ever truly be great, but the relentless fan campaign behind this one was impressive enough to raise its value. It's also rife with sexual innuendo, following in a longstanding tradition of pop songs you should never sing along to while making eye contact with either of your parents.
If the Jonas Brothers wrote a song about sex addiction.
63. "She's Not Afraid"
An upbeat ode to commitment-phobes everywhere.
62. "Na Na Na"
Equal parts comforting, noxious and just plain gross. The Velveeta of One Direction's discography.
Not an Ed Sheeran ballad. You should listen to it.
60. "Gotta Be You"
Harry's (now unattainable?) high note in this song is a major plot point in Mark Parson's The Adventurous Adventures of One Direction short, so it deserves a significant ranking.
59. "I Want to Write You a Song"
A tender, straightforward love song that succeeds in its utter simplicity.
Unjustly relegated to EP-release, when "Home" should've just replaced "Infinity" on Made in the A.M.
57. "Rock Me"
"Do you remember summer '09?" a sarcastic and impossibly-youthful Harry Styles asks, as if he knows I have to count backwards from 27, my arthritic bones snapping back into place with each successive tick.
56. "Once In a Lifetime"
A light and airy attempt at Rubber Soul-era Beatles.
This song is better than "Once in a Lifetime."
This song is not better than "Truly Madly Deeply."
53. "Truly Madly Deeply"
NOT a Savage Garden cover.
NOT a reinterpretation of Michael Jackson's "Dirty Diana."
51. "Temporary Fix"
The Strokes, if The Strokes knew nothing of production value.
50. "Tell Me A Lie"
Written by Kelly Clarkson, yet not as good as Kelly Clarkson. The world continues to turn.
49. "More Than This"
This song produced one of the greatest group moments in all of 1D history:
"Magic" has been criticized as a watered down version of every sugary-sweet pop song to emerge from the Kidz Bop era. And that description isn't even necessarily wrong, but "Magic" is delightful in its overt cheesiness. Sure, it's earnestly innocent in a way that's divisive, but it made sense for the group's young beginnings.
47. "Stand Up"
"I'm a thief! I'm a thief!" One Direction cries in unison, predicting their future careers as songwriters who borrow heavily from their influences.
46. "Why Don't We Go There"
45. "Does He Know?"
A "Jesse's Girl" rip-off.
44. "Through The Dark"
A Mumford & Sons rip-off.
43. "Best Song Ever"
A The Who rip-off.
42. "Steal My Girl"
A Journey rip-off.
41. "Live While We're Young"
A heavily-sanitized Clash rip-off.
40. "Change Your Ticket"
A The 1975 rip-off.
39. "Act My Age"
Likely the track that cemented Zayn's decision to quit the band. A solid drinking song that's way more fun live than it has any business being.
38. "Everything About You"
One Direction have so many songs.
37. "Never Enough"
This list is unending.
36. "End of the Day"
Two songs for the price of one!
35. "Nobody Compares"
"Nobody Compares" reveals the group's understanding of their own all-encompassing allure and the deep, cult-like immersion that comes with longtime obsession: "Now all of my friends say it's not really worth it / but even if that's true / No one in the world could stop me from not moving on, baby, even if I wanted to."
A poignant campfire singalong that acts as a drunken, nostalgic wrap-up of 1D's career.
33. "Summer Love"
Largely reviled by fans who have no taste for Zayn-driven ballads or good taste at all, "Summer Love" doesn't quite fit on Take Me Home, but it's a sweet wisp of a song that plays perfectly on the puppy love theme of an all-too-brief summer fling coming to its inevitable end.
32. "Night Changes"
Deeply introspective, widely misunderstood, undervalued and unappreciated by One Direction fans at large, "Night Changes" is a mournful song about time's unyielding and relentless passage. Zayn is a vision in its music video, in all music videos, forever and always, amen. #BuyPILLOWTALKOnItunes
31. "Drag Me Down"
1D's first single as a foursome, "Drag Me Down" dropped in the middle of the night, jolting fans awake with its subtle reggae influence and defiant energy. Zayn's departure reignited something within the group not felt in years, and "Drag Me Down" signaled the much-needed start of their newfound togetherness.
30. "Fool's Gold"
A decidedly mature look at a one-sided relationship and a sad willingness to turn a blind eye, if only for temporary fulfillment.
29. "Still The One"
"Still The One" boasts one of Harry's greatest vocal moments, and that's probably why they never played it live.
A bittersweet, weary Randy Newman wannabe, "History" is a love song to One Direction's fiercely loyal fans, with a halfhearted promise that they will, someday, return. It also provides further evidence of Liam's lingering Toy Story fixation.
A playful, successful attempt (finally!) at channeling The Beatles and Willy Wonka in equal measure, while sonically replicating the bubbly thrill of blossoming love in its most exciting, surreal stages of infancy.
26. "Kiss You"
Finally, a good One Direction single unignored by pop radio.
25. "Walking in the Wind"
Paul Simon who?
24. "Loved You First"
Definitive proof that One Direction were ahead of the '80s resurgence game way back in 2012.
The sole time Ed Sheeran got it right for 1D: "18," a wistful mid-tempo look back on young love. Not a Larry love letter.
22. "Change My Mind"
Force this one upon the deaf ears of anyone convinced One Direction cannot harmonize. "Change My Mind" is proof they simply choose not to anymore.
21. "Stole My Heart"
Never has One Direction displayed vocal similitude as clearly as they did on their club-inspired early tracks: One tequila, two tequila, three tequila, floor, for sure.
A weirdly prophetic song that came to life when Zayn proved the first one to say goodbye.
18. "Last First Kiss"
A good public proposal song, blast it loud across a basketball stadium as you request forever from your beloved, Jumbotron style.
17. "Better Than Words"
A song that takes the majority of its lyrics from the titles of far more famous tracks, "Better Than Words" is a true triumph of theft.
16. "Where Do Broken Hearts Go"
And so a genre that never needed saving lives on in all its white-bread, '70s rock glory, taking in crypt keeper Harry Styles as its wild limbed, hazy-eyed mascot.
15. "Story of My Life"
Still heard frequently on pop radio and in countless CVS stores around the nation, "SOML" signified a subtle attitude shift toward One Direction from the general public. No longer were they mere pop puppets steered by the sinewy strings of Simon Cowell's withering old man hands. "Story Of My Life" marked maturity and growth, and also most people didn't realize it was a One Direction song until long after they'd already admitted to liking it.
14. "Stockholm Syndrome"
For some reason, One Direction remained content in sending their worst songs to pop radio, opting out of picking tracks that might have endeared them to a more expanded audience. "Stockholm Syndrome," a song reminiscent of Tears for Fears' "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," might have rendered the group some crossover appeal — but it's not like they need more fans, right?
A perfect melding of soft harmonies, "Fireproof" is one of One Direction's finest musical moments as a group. A subtle, understated demonstration that each member is absolutely necessary. Even Louis!
12. Little White Lies
The sickest drum beat in all of One Direction history, though the song's message about the blurred lines of consent is questionable at best.
11. "Hey Angel"
It's almost a good thing Made in the A.M. never got its due diligence as an album because "Hey Angel," a well-executed demonstration of early-'90s alt-rock, most certainly would've been ignored anyway. This is their way.
Even a broken clock is right twice a day: Harry also helped pen "Happily," a shimmering folk-pop guitar jaunt that bought into the Lumineers hype, minus all the unworthy pretension that came with it.
9. "Heart Attack"
A bright burst of pop brilliance, "Heart Attack" is as candy-coated as they come, all slick, clean guitars and sheer danceability. Let us also not underestimate the power of a well-executed Ow!
8. "I Would"
Terrible lyrics notwithstanding (I can't compete with your boyfriend / He's got 27 tattoos), "I Would" is a peppy, pop tour-de-force and proof that 1D was always at its best with straight-up radio-friendly anthems.
An energetic Queen rip-off and one of 1D's best ever, "Wolves" was tragically relegated to bonus track status.
6. "They Don't Know About Us"
Acting as the group's most obvious musical nod to their boyband predecessors but with a much-needed modern day twist, "TDKAU" is the most unsung track in One Direction's entire discography, a misstep not unnoticed by fans or Fifth Harmony.
5. "What A Feeling"
Thank god someone in this group is a Fleetwood Mac fan.
4. "One Thing"
Something that became woefully apparent upon completion of this ranking is the unskilled ear of listeners everywhere. "One Thing" failed on radio, despite embodying the best of the Up All Night era: Teens with boundless energy sing earnestly about youthful infatuation, long before the pangs of heartbreak and the reality of mismatched feelings sink in to destroy every fairytale notion you've ever had. Plus, it's catchy!
As punk as One Direction will ever get, "Clouds" is a biting, explosive number and so far removed from their more radio-friendly pop hits that it hardly sounds like the same group. It provided a solid example of the band's musical versatility, signaling a significant shift toward (or an obvious desire to land amidst) alt-rock territory. Gang vocals, hard-hitting drums, grungy guitars and roaring vocal performances across the board make for a track that feels gloriously like a sucker punch straight to the gut.
2. "What Makes You Beautiful"
Perhaps the greatest bubblegum pop release unleashed unto the public in recent memory, "What Makes You Beautiful" is three minutes and 19 seconds of pure sonic bliss. A track so sweet it rots your insides, so catchy it latches inside the soft parts of your brain until it embeds itself within your DNA. It gushes through your veins, merges with your bloodstream, changes mass and flows into your lungs like a fog, where it grows and solidifies, forever lodged deep within your mortal shell. One Direction will never be able to escape "What Makes You Beautiful," and neither will anyone else.
1. "Girl Almighty"
Joan Didion once wrote, "There is no real way to deal with everything we lose." It feels that way now, in this One Direction-less world. But there's peace in remembering how Harry and sometimes Liam (though never Niall) flung themselves down on their knees in worship each night on tour, always during "Girl Almighty," a glorious, exuberant celebration of the young women who kept 1D afloat for so long, and continue to do so.
No other song in One Direction's extensive arsenal is quite as uplifting, as unencumbered or, admittedly, as silly. It manages to pay homage without a trace of condescension. No patronizing, infuriating nudge here, no allusion to innuendo or sexual desire. Just simple, innocent praise in a way that also perfectly mirrors the euphoria inherent in loving and living your full One Direction truth, forever may it last.
One Direction Through The Years