Ryen Cinski ’22
As a die-hard One Direction fan, I am constantly anticipating the release of solo music from each of the former bandmates. This past week was exciting for me as it saw the release of Harry Styles’ single “Adore You,” Niall Horan’s single “Put a Little Love On Me,” and Liam Payne’s debut album, LP1. After listening to both Harry and Niall’s singles, I was very pleased and found that I thoroughly enjoyed both songs. When I sat down to listen to LP1, the first song on the album that I played was track 7, titled “Rude Hours,” an uncomfortably sexual song. Since I hated it, I decided to try a different song, and clicked play on track 10, “Both Ways.” Not only did I hate this song, I also found myself uncomfortable and angry about the lyrics and the message that they convey.
The lyrics are focused around the singer, Liam, having a threesome with his bisexual girlfriend and another woman. While representation in media is necessary, these lyrics work to paint a stigmatized, sexualized version of bisexuality – something that can be very harmful and offensive. Bisexuality is often associated with threesomes and only supported in a sexual light. Just because an artist sings about / “enjoys” another’s bisexuality in their work does not mean that they are truly supportive of bisexual individuals. To fetishize and sexualize bisexuality and reduce it to only being good for threesomes is dehumanizing and communicates the message that individuals who identify as bisexual are objects to be used for sexual pleasure rather than human beings.
In the refrain of this terrible piece of music, Payne sings: “Lovin’ the way that she’s turning you on // Switching the lanes like a Bugatti Sport.” Not only is this analogy idiotic, it is reductive. An individual’s sexuality, something that is a part of their identity and a piece of who they are, does not exist for a biphobic, washed up, artist’s entertainment.
An individual is free to enjoy and engage in whatever they wish – for some bisexual individuals, threesomes may be a fantasy that they entertain or a part of their life which is okay as it is their own personal preference. What this does not mean, however, is that every individual identifying as bisexual has threesomes or would like to be a part of one. To assume this and to show bisexuality in a solely sexual way can lead to bi-erasure, which can be defined as “a pervasive problem in which the existence or legitimacy of bisexuality (either in general or in regard to an individual) is questioned or denied outright” (GLAAD). Since Liam is an artist whose work is available to and engaged with by a wide range of individuals, it is harmful and hurtful that he would be so blind and negligent concerning the content that he’s releasing. This tone-deaf song will hopefully act as an example of what an artist should not do, and will promote acceptance of and appropriate appreciation of all sexualities and identities.
I often sit up at nights worrying about the injustice of One Direction songs. Could it possibly be DiFranco family redux?