Did One Direction recently spend some time at the School of Rock? It’s possible—if the School of Rock happens to be headed by Journey.
For the boy band’s latest single, “Steal My Girl,” One Direction takes things in a new, ’80s classic rock direction. More specifically, the opening of “Steal My Girl” is enough to give any Journey fan a bit of deja vu, as the song sounds something like One Direction’s version of Journey’s 1983 hit “Faithfully.” One Direction’s mid-song “na na na na na” even recalls Journey’s mid-song “woah oh oh oh.” It feels a lot like One Direction is trying to make a new name for itself—and it’s not terrible.
The real question, though: What would a true Journey enthusiast think? I got my father, the original Sam Highfill, on the phone to get his thoughts. His credentials include the fact that he raised me on Journey, among other bands, and has been known to appreciate good music, even from a boy band. Namely, he’s a big fan of the Backstreet Boys.
EW: Doesn’t that remind you of Journey?
SAM HIGHFILL: The only thing that sounds like Journey is that little piano piece.
And the “na na na.”
Yeah. Of course, there are other people that did “na na na” before Journey, but Journey’s got one of the most famous [sings] “na na na na na.”
What were your other thoughts on the song?
I liked it. It was fine. It was okay. Vocally, there are no harmonies or anything. There wasn’t anything particularly special about the vocal at all. The piano definitely favors Journey. What it kind of made me think of was Todd Rundgren’s “Bang The Drum All Day.” [Laughs] Something about the overall aura of it made me think of “Bang The Drum All Day.” Lyrically it’s different, but for some reason that popped into my mind. There’s nothing about the vocals that stand out, and maybe that’s what throws me back to “Bang My Drum All Day.” I don’t know.
[Your father proceeds to search for Journey’s “Be Good to Yourself” on YouTube, which he finds. Then, to himself, he mutters, “The song’s very different [from One Direction] … thank God.”]