It's been about a decade since the last boy-band pop craze fizzled out, so we're overdue for a new crop.

Cue One Direction. The quintet of 18-to-20-year-old guys brought together for the British version of "X Factor" in 2010 is prepped to lead the charge with its new single "What Makes You Beautiful" and its debut album, "Up All Night" (Columbia).

Like their boy-band contemporaries Americans Big Time Rush and the Irish sensations The Wanted, One Direction (or "1D," as they're known to the kids) make pleasant pop.

Their songs are upbeat, danceable and devoid of anything troubling, aside from the teenage hormones they tend to set a-ragin'. "What Makes You Beautiful" shows off the formula perfectly, as the guys trade off flirty but nonthreatening lines like "The way you flip your hair gets me overwhelmed, but when you smile at the ground it ain't hard to tell you don't know-oh-oh, you don't know you're beautiful." The music is super sweet and danceable, but cut slightly with a rock guitar riff here and there.

"One Thing" is even more direct, blending the best bits of Backstreet Boys' "I Want It That Way" with Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone."

One Direction also handles ballads, with the 'N Sync-y "More Than This" and The Script-like "Same Mistakes."

With Simon Cowell steering their ship, One Direction is focused, competent and (scream!) ready to dote on tween girls with the force of five Justin Biebers. No wonder the frenzy is building.


"Up All Night"


BOTTOM LINE State-of-the-art manufactured pop

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