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The Beatles, The Monkees, and One Direction garnered massive young fan bases with their catchy pop-rock songs. During an interview, one of One Direction’s regular songwriters explained why One Direction made songs that were similar to The Beatles’ and The Monkees’. He also explained why the band eschewed the dance-pop music that was popular around the time it debuted.

One Direction's Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, and Harry Styles on a couch
One Direction’s Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, and Harry Styles | Karwai Tang/WireImage

What Simon Cowell said about The Monkees’ songs

During a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, Simon Cowell discussed working with One Direction. He brought up The Monkees in the interview. “You treat them like human beings, you don’t overwork them, you make it enjoyable for them, you try to teach them how the business works, and, this is the most important point, you got to have killer songs,” he opined. “When you listen to Monkees records today, they are brilliant, brilliant songs, and the same applies to NSYNC — they had some of the best writers in the world writing for them.” Cowell also stressed that he wanted to show respect for One Direction.

Why One Direction’s songs sound like The Beatles and The Monkees instead of Rihanna

Savan Kotecha repeatedly worked for One direction. Kotecha co-wrote hits such as “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Live While We’re Young,” and “One Thing,” as well as numerous album tracks for the band. In a 2020 interview with Rolling Stone, Kotecha discussed the state of music in 2010. “Everybody was doing this sort of Rihanna dance-pop,” he said. Kotecha felt One Direction couldn’t pull off that sort of music. Notably, Harry Styles and company did not dance.

“Me and Simon would talk about how [the band] was Beatlesque, Monkees-esque,” Kotecha said. “They had such big personalities. I felt like a kid again when I was around them.

“And I felt like the only music you could really do that with is fun, poppy guitar songs,” he continued. “It would come out of left field and become something owned by the fans.” Kotecha wanted One Direction’s songs to forgo the dated sound of 1990s boy bands NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys. He also wanted to make sure One Direction’s songs were simple so that beginner guitar players could perform them.


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What Paul McCartney thought about comparing The Beatles to One Direction

During a 2013 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Paul McCartney discussed the comparisons between One Direction and The Beatles. He said calling any band “the new Beatles” could be a kiss of death because they’d have to live up to The Beatles. Regardless, Paul said he enjoyed the boy band’s songs and he understood why the band appealed to girls.

One Direction wouldn’t be the same without The Beatles and The Monkees — and a member of The Beatles was a fan of One Direction.