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One Direction, ‘Four': Everything We Know So Far

One Direction
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

This past July marked four years since Harry, Liam, Niall, Zayn and Louis were brought together to form what would shortly become the world’s biggest boy band, One Direction — and they’re fittingly commemorating their time together with the title of the next One Direction studio album, ‘Four.’

For those who have followed the band’s career from its humble beginnings of a bright-eyed, fluffy-haired group of young lads on Simon Cowell’s ‘X Factor,’ it’s hard to believe that it’s already been four years since their acoustic performance of ‘Torn’ marked their first performance as 1D.

And for Directioners who have joined the ride at any point since, it’s hard to believe it’s only been four years since the five-piece hit the music scene with an unstoppable momentum, creating a fevered mania and dedicated fan base that helped them break records — literally, as they’re the first act ever to debut at No. 1 in the U.S. with their first three albums.

The record breaking isn’t likely to end there. One Direction’s ‘Four’ is set for release this November, and all bets are on it following in its three predecessors’ chart-topping footsteps.

Based on what we know so far, ‘Four’ is going to break the One Direction mold. Gone are the preppy, color-coordinated outfits of their ‘Up All Night’ era. They’ve left behind the bubblegum pop and boyish behavior that marked their sophomore year and album ‘Take Me Home.’ Even the slightly rocky, barely edgy feel of the third album ‘Midnight Memories’ has been set aside for what feels like a natural progression as the band matures, finds its footing and perfects the sound that works for them.

So what, exactly, does One Direction’s ‘Four’ hold in store? We’ve scoured news articles, recent interviews and their social media feeds to glean every scrap of info about their next album. Check out what we know so far about ‘Four.’

One Direction, 'Four'Facts About ‘Four’

Though ‘Four’ has already hit No. 1 on iTunes charts in 67 countries a solid two months before its release, the album mostly remains a mystery at this point — proving just how loyal Directioners are to their favorite band.

“It shows how dedicated the fans really are,” Harry said to the Australian ‘Today Show’ of the overwhelming number of preorders. “They’re not hearing music, they’re just going, ‘Well, I liked the last three [albums], so I trust you enough to put out something I’m going to like again.’”

We may not know much, but 1D has dropped a few crumbs along the way about the upcoming release.

Here are the facts we know about ‘Four':

  • Release date: Nov. 17, 2014
  • There are 12 tracks on the standard edition.
  • There are 16 tracks plus a behind-the-scenes video on the deluxe edition.
  • One song on the album has a country vibe.
  • ‘Fireproof’ was released as a free download to thank fans for their ongoing support and to preview the upcoming album. Louis and Liam cowrote the track along with John Ryan, Jamie Scott and Julian Bunetta.
  • ‘Steal My Girl’ is the lead single and will be released everywhere but the U.K. on Sept. 29 and in the U.K. on Oct. 12.
  • Harry teamed up with Jake Gosling (producer of 1D’s previous hit ‘Little Things’) to write a track called ‘Want You to Be There,’ rumored to be on the album.
  • Harry also worked with OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder on a tune titled ‘Get Away,’ another potential song on the ‘Four’ track listing.
  • Zayn hit the studio with Emeli Sande and British DJ Naughty Boy to collaborate on a song that is sure to have an interesting sound.
  • Louis and Liam as a pair worked with Benji and Joel Madden of Good Charlotte fame, though we’ve got no further details on what they wrote.
  • The band recently recorded two songs called ‘Blame It All On You’ and ‘Whatever She Wants,’ the latter of which all five guys helped to write.
  • Ed Sheeran will feature on the album with a specially written tune called ’18.’ Zayn described the track to MTV as “more of a ballad,” while big boss Simon Cowell lauded it as a “great song.” He told Capital FM that he specifically requested a song from the British crooner: “And then literally a week later he comes round to my house with his manager one night, turned up around 11 o’clock and said ‘Do you like this song?’ and he played me ‘18’ and it took me about a millionth of a second to say yes.”
  • A fan secretly recorded seven (!) clips of what is rumored to be new songs from ‘Four.’ Though they’re barely audible, Harry’s rasp and Louis’ unmistakable tone are unmistakable. Listen to the clips here.
  • The band will celebrate their album release with a special event at Universal Studios Florida on Nov. 17, including a free concert for the ‘Today Show.’

Tracklist for ‘Four’
On Oct. 16, One Direction released their official tracklist for the deluxe edition of ‘Four.’ The list is as follows:

  1. Steal My Girl
  2. Ready To Run
  3. Where Do Broken Hearts Go
  4. 18
  5. Girl Almighty
  6. Fool’s Gold
  7. Night Changes
  8. No Control
  9. Fireproof
  10. Spaces
  11. Stockholm Syndrome
  12. Clouds

The deluxe edition also lists the following bonus tracks:

  1. Change Your Ticket
  2. Illusion
  3. Once In A Lifetime
  4. Act My Age 

Listen to One Direction’s ‘Fireproof’

In the Words of One Direction

Who better to tell us about the new album than the 1D members themselves? They ramped up their involvement in the creative processes with ‘Midnight Memories,’ but the boys have stated they took the hands-on approach to another level with ‘Four.’

“We’ve all taken a hand in the writing this time, and we’ve literally written almost every song,” Liam said in an interview with the ‘Today Show.’

Pretty impressive, considering the 16-song track listing. (To refresh your memories, 12 of the 14 tracks on ‘Midnight Memories’ had at least one band member listed as a writer.)

Liam and Louis, who earned the most songwriting credits on their previous album, seem to be taking the lead on ‘Four’ as well. Not only did they help write ‘Fireproof,’ but their names will be listed under the first single ‘Steal My Girl’ as well, along with Ed Drewett, Wayne Hector, Julian Bunetta and John Ryan — the same group of guys (minus Liam and Louis) who put together ‘Best Song Ever.’

“It’s quite a feel-good song,” Louis told MTV News about the new tune. “It’s not too far away from the last album. I think it’s a good bridge record. It’s got good vibes to it.”

According to Niall, it was also one of the “earlier tracks” the band recorded for the album. He revealed to the Aussie ‘Today Show,’ “After putting them together we just kind of decided that that was the right one to go with. It kind of matches up to everything that we need at this time.”

On Sunday, Sept. 28 a rough recording of ‘Steal My Girl’ leaked on the internet, giving fans even more of an idea of what to expect from the upcoming album.

Listen to One Direction’s ‘Steal My Girl’

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With how busy 1D has been — embarking on their world tour, promoting their new fragrance and working on their latest autobiography — it’s surprising that they found any time to fit writing and recording into their packed schedules.

“We did a lot of writing on the road,” Louis said (via MTV). “We also had two and a half months off at the start of the year. We did a bit of writing then.” And as for their song-writing inspiration? “We write about girls and love, like a lot of people, and having a good time.”

(We have to wonder if Harry helped pen any songs about his ex Taylor Swift. It seems like she was plenty inspired to write about him!)

While the subject matter of their songs might not have changed in the last four years, that doesn’t mean the music as a whole is still the same. “We wanted to make the lyrics a little bit more mature and fit what our personal experiences are right now,” Zayn explained.

He also told Billboard, “It’s a progression of the last stuff that we’ve done. We haven’t tried to go too different with it. We tried to keep what is our sound, but just grow with it, as we’re obviously more grown up. Grown a bit more facial hair,” he joked. “Our lyrics need to get a little bit older as well. We want to grow with our fan base.”

“Some of the songs have got kind of a classic, natural [sound]. Quite simple, some of the songs. Not too overproduced,” Louis added.

“There’s definitely some tunes that tie into that ‘Story of My Life’ kind of sound, that folky sound,” Zayn chimed in, referencing their chart-topping 2013 single.

In Liam’s opinion, ‘Four’ is a bit more laid-back than One Direction’s previous efforts. “A lot of our singles are bold and pop, but there’s a chill factor on the new one,” he told Teen Vogue (quote via Sugarscape). “It’s like driving down a road in California on a lovely day.”

Of course, fans already have some idea of which direction ‘Four’ is heading in, thanks to the band releasing ‘Fireproof’ as a preview. “We wanted to give the fans a free song off the album … to give them an idea of what they should expect off ‘Four,’” Niall said on ‘Today.’

The Irish member continued, “I think it’s gonna be a little bit more edgy, but obviously we feel like we’ve got some really good songs and we’re happy.”

In the Words of OthersOne Direction, 'Steal My Girl'

Holding the title of the world’s biggest boy band comes with a few privileges, including working with some of the best writers, producers and fellow artists currently on the scene. Those who have worked on the project have been singing One Direction’s praises on their level of involvement and talent present in ‘Four.’

According to big boss Simon Cowell, the new album is “fantastic.” In an interview with Capital FM, he said, “There’s probably five or six tracks I’ve already heard that could be singles.”

He added, “There’s some very different kinds of songs than what we’ve heard before. They’ve taken a few more risks. Most importantly, the boys love writing, they love recording.”

Julian Bunetta, a producer and songwriter who has a long working history with One Direction, called ‘Four’ a “window into how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, the happiness and the sadness, and the ups and downs.”

He told Billboard, “Fans want to be challenged and they want to be led and taken to new places and hear things they haven’t heard. And the boys definitely listen to the fans.”

As the boys themselves have said, there’s a distinct and deliberate maturation of sound on the new record. “There’s a lot of intent lyrically with the message we’re trying to convey,” Julian shared. “It wasn’t just about ‘oh this word sounds good’; there’s a lot of intent about, and definitely different layers of messages.”

Julian, who cowrote ‘Fireproof,’ made sure to stress that the free preview track isn’t typical of the entire album. “‘Fireproof’ was a color in the One Direction musical rainbow,” he said. Like the song, ‘Four’ will be “strong melodically and lyrically and it’s going to be tastefully done whatever it is, but it’s not all the songs have a ‘Fireproof’ vibe at all.”

While Julian was more prolific about his positive feelings towards ‘Four,’ others, like Good Charlotte, summed it up in a short but sweet statement: “Their new album is crazy,” Benji Madden tweeted.

Crazy good, we’re guessing!

More to Come About ‘Four’

Eight weeks stand between now and the release of ‘Four’ — meaning there’s plenty of time for 1D to dish out more hints about what’s to come. As they continue to drop clues, we’ll gather them up and add them to this guide, so don’t forget to check back to keep up-to-date on every detail of the new album.

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