Four (One Direction album)

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Four
File:One Direction - Four.png
Studio album by One Direction
Released 17 November 2014 (2014-11-17)
Recorded April–September 2014
Genre Pop[1][2]
Length 43:39
Label
Producer
One Direction chronology
Midnight Memories
(2013)Midnight Memories2013
Four
(2014)
Made in the A.M.
(2015)Made in the A.M.2015
Singles from Four
  1. "Steal My Girl"
    Released: 29 September 2014
  2. "Night Changes"
    Released: 14 November 2014

Four is the fourth studio album by English-Irish boy band One Direction, released on 17 November 2014 by Columbia Records and Syco Music.[3] Two singles were released from the album, "Steal My Girl" and "Night Changes", both achieving platinum status in the US, and scoring the band their tenth and eleventh UK top-ten hits.

The album received generally positive reviews from music critics. It debuted at number one in 18 countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States. The album was also One Direction's last with member Zayn Malik, who announced he was leaving the band on 25 March 2015. In August 2015, Four became the band's fourth consecutive album to sell in excess of 1 million copies in the United States. The band became the first band to have their first four albums debut at number one in the United States.

Background and development

On 27 April 2014, it was confirmed that One Direction were working on their fourth studio album. Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne worked on the majority of the album with songwriters Julian Bunetta, John Ryan, and Jamie Scott, but members Harry Styles and Zayn Malik also co-wrote tracks with Bunetta, Ryan, Scott and producer Johan Carlson. Niall Horan, the fifth member of One Direction, was unable to be involved in writing due to a leg injury.

Malik has described the album as a way of growing with their fans, and having more mature lyrics without straying from their style too much. The album provides a place for each member to showcase their styles of writing, particularly Styles, whose four tracks on the album perfectly sum up the songwriting skills he has.

The name and cover of the album were announced on 8 September on One Direction's official website, along with a free download of a song called "Fireproof", which was available for 24 hours.[4] Horan stated that the reason for the free download was "because you have supported us so much, we wanted to give a little something back".[3] "Fireproof" was written by Payne and Tomlinson along with John Ryan, Jamie Scott and Julian Bunetta, who also wrote their single "Story of My Life".[5] In the 24-hour span, 1.1 million downloads were generated.[6] The song was put on the band's Vevo on 22 September.[7]

In an interview with Simon Cowell, it was revealed that one of the songs for the album will be titled "18". The song was written by Ed Sheeran, who also wrote "Little Things" and "Moments" for the group.[8][9]

Horan came up with the name of the album, commemorating the fact that it is the band's fourth album and that it has been four years since their formation.[10]

Tour

The On the Road Again Tour was announced on the morning program Today, where the band gave a pre-recorded interview releasing the details of their return to Australia. It was later announced that the band would also be touring Asia and Africa. The group will be making debuts for some countries, particularly in the United Arab Emirates.

On 24 October 2014, the official One Direction site announced several more tour dates, with shows across Europe, the US, and Canada.[11]

Singles

"Steal My Girl" was released as the album's first single on 29 September 2014 worldwide and on 19 October 2014 in the UK.[12] "Night Changes" was then released as the album's second single on 14 November 2014.[13]

Promotional singles

There were five promotional singles released on five different days; when fans pre-ordered the album, they received an instant download of the songs.[14] "Ready to Run" was released as the first promotional single on 6 November.[15] "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" was released as the second promotional single on 10 November.[16] "18" was released as the third promotional single on 11 November.[17] "Girl Almighty" was released as the fourth promotional single on 12 November.[18] "Fool's Gold" was released as the fifth promotional single on 13 November.[19]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 65/100[20]
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[1]
The A.V. Club B-[21]
Billboard 2.5/5 stars[22]
The Buffalo News 2/5 stars[23]
The Guardian 3/5 stars[2]
New York Daily News 3/5 stars[24]
Irish Independent 1/5 stars[25]
The Observer 3/5 stars[26]
Slant Magazine 2.5/5 stars[27]
The Daily Telegraph 4/5 stars[28]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[29]

Four received generally positive reviews from music critics. Some argued that the members' songwriting showed signs of maturity, while others claimed the musical content was too similar to the band's previous work. On Metacritic, which assigns a rating out of 100, the album received a score of 65, which indicates generally favorable reviews.

Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph found "an unlikely comparison to Bruce Springsteen in the quintet's latest offering", and that Four was "hard to dislike: it's cheery, uplifting, high spirited and good fun", but did still say it was "songwriting by numbers". AllMusic's review said it was the group's "fourth well-crafted, packed-with-great-pop-songs album in a row", although did cynically point out the pattern of each of said albums being released just in time for "optimal holiday-season gift-giving". Tshepo Mokoena of The Guardian gave the album a more mixed review of three-stars, again drawing comparisons with Springsteen but with the caveat of being "hardly groundbreaking pop", and Jim Faber of the New York Daily News also gave three stars and praised the group for "confronting their limitations" but at the same time questioned why whilst doing so they spent "so much time looking back with longing", pointed out an apparent "anxiety" and expressed disappointment that whilst Four represents a step forward in their history, it "represents a step back in both sound and sensibility".

More negative reviews came from Chuck Arnold of Billboard magazine and James Rainis of Slant Magazine, both awarding just two-and-a-half stars. The former claimed "One Direction aren't ready to let go of their bubble-gum days", whilst Rainis ended his take by saying "The album's irresistibly obvious choruses, hackneyed sentiments, and puppy-eyed earnestness can come off as endearing when the songwriting is clever enough, but every misstep is, despite the band's efforts to assert more control over their music, a painful reminder of One Direction's status as a manufactured, focus-grouped pop entity."

The album was placed at number eleven on Cosmopolitan's list of "The 20 Best Albums of 2014"[30]

Jessica Goodman and Ryan Kistobak of The Huffington Post included the album on their list of 2014's best releases, claiming that "2014 will forever be known as the year that we realized One Direction was actually, dare we say, good." Goodman further complimented the album as a "complex, feel-good trip down young love lane".[31]

Commercial performance

Released on 12 November 2014, the album quickly rose to the top of the UK Albums Chart, with 142,000 copies sold during its first week. The album scored One Direction their third consecutive number one album.[32] Based on UK sales, it was certified Gold by the BPI in its first week, and certified Platinum in its fourth week.

The deluxe edition of Four became the top charted album on iTunes in some 67 countries.[33][34] In the US, the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart on the week ending 23 November 2014, with sales of 387,000. One Direction thus became the first musical group to have each of their first four studio albums debut at No. 1; the Monkees and the Kingston Trio also reached No. 1 with their first four albums but not in the first week of sales. One Direction follows three solo artists who have attained No. 1 status with their first four albums: Britney Spears and DMX in 2003, and Beyoncé in 2011. (In 2013, Beyoncé's fifth album also debuted at No. 1.)[35] Four sold 814,000 copies in the US in 2014, the ninth best-selling album of the year.[36] The album reached its millionth sales mark in the U.S. in August 2015,[37] and has sold 1,016,000 as of October 2015.[38]

Worldwide, Four sold over 3.2 million copies in 2014.[39]

Track listing

Four – standard edition[3][40]
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Steal My Girl"  
  • Julian Bunetta
  • Pär Westerlund
  • John Ryan
3:48
2. "Ready to Run"  
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
3:16
3. "Where Do Broken Hearts Go"  
  • Bunetta
  • Pär Westerlund
  • Teddy Geiger
3:49
4. "18"  
4:08
5. "Girl Almighty"  
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • S. Pages Mehner
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • Alexander Oriet[a]
3:22
6. "Fool's Gold"  
  • Rad
  • Jamie Scott
  • Sam Miller[a]
3:31
7. "Night Changes"  
  • Scott
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • Horan
  • Malik
  • Styles
  • Payne
  • Tomlinson
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
3:47
8. "No Control"  
  • Tomlinson
  • Cunningham
  • Scott
  • Payne
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • Bunetta
  • Ian Franzino
  • Ryan
  • Afterhrs
3:20
9. "Fireproof"  
  • Payne
  • Tomlinson
  • Ryan
  • Scott
  • Bunetta
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • Ben "Bengineer" Chang[b]
2:54
10. "Spaces"  
  • Tomlinson
  • Payne
  • Scott
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • Bunetta
  • Afterhrs
  • Ryan
4:17
11. "Stockholm Syndrome"  
  • Styles
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • Johan Carlsson
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
3:35
12. "Clouds"  
  • Tomlinson
  • Payne
  • Malik
  • Scott
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
  • Bunetta
  • Ryan
3:52
Notes
  • ^[a] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[b] signifies a vocal producer

Additional credits

(Credits taken from Four's liner notes.[46])

  • Vocal coach: Helene Horlyck
  • Album mastered by Tom Coyne at Sterling Sound
  • Assisted by Randy Merrill
  • Photography: R.J. Shaughnessy
  • Design: Fluidesign.co.uk

Charts

Certifications

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[96] 2× Platinum 140,000
Austria (IFPI Austria)[97] Gold 7,500
Brazil (ABPD)[98] 3× Platinum 120,000
Canada (Music Canada)[99] Platinum 98,000[100]
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[101] Platinum 20,000
France (SNEP)[102] Platinum 100,000
Hungary (MAHASZ)[103] Gold 1,000
Italy (FIMI)[104] 2× Platinum 100,000
Japan (RIAJ)[105] Gold 100,000
Mexico (AMPROFON)[106] 2× Platinum 120,000
New Zealand (RMNZ)[107] Platinum 15,000
Philippines (PARI)[108] Platinum 15,000
Poland (ZPAV)[109] Platinum 20,000
South Africa (RISA)[110] Gold 20,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[111] Platinum 40,000
Sweden (GLF)[112] Platinum 40,000
United Kingdom (BPI)[113] 2× Platinum 600,000
United States (RIAA)[114] Platinum 1,016,000[38]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history

Country Date Format(s) Edition(s) Label Ref.
Canada 17 November 2014
  • Standard
  • Deluxe
Syco [115]
France [116]
Germany [117]
Italy [118]
United Kingdom [119]
United States Columbia [120]
Spain 18 November 2014 Syco [121]
Japan 19 November 2014 Sony [122]
United Kingdom 15 December 2014 Vinyl Standard Syco [123]

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