Four might seem like a boring title, if not an outright cliché at this point, for a new One Direction album. In fact, it’s actually an incredibly bold name, because it draws attention to the fact that most groups in their spot would be smart to avoid at all costs: This is, remarkably enough, the fourth One Direction album. Simply put, boy bands don’t make it to their fourth albums: They either break up first (‘N Sync), take so long that the moment’s passed by their return (Backstreet Boys), or try an awkward new direction that fast-tracks them towards irrelevance (New Kids on the Block). If you get to your fourth album as a boy band, it’s probably because nobody heard your first record (Jonas Brothers), because the formula for these things is basically inflexible: You get one album as the hot new thing, one album as world-conquering superstars, one album as popular-but-uncomfortably-maturing adults trying to prove you’re “more than just a boy band,” and then you’re out.
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