By Caroline Meister
Until last Saturday, the only member of One Direction to release a solo track was Niall Horan (“This Town”). Louis Tomlinson changed that by premiering his brand new track, “Just Hold On,” with legendary DJ Steve Aoki. After listening to the song a few times, I will admit that it’s catchy, mostly thanks to the backing track created by Aoki. I think the lyrics are rather unoriginal and that the song doesn’t really showcase Tomlinson’s voice because he is a very talented individual.
It seems like a very distinct break from One Direction, almost as if done on purpose. It makes sense: Louis has been singing in One Direction since he was 18 years old, and he will turn 25 on Christmas Eve. That’s almost eight years of singing the same sugary pop boy band songs. Not saying that’s bad, but it must get boring, especially when you have a strict contract that prevents you from doing much else. So if it only makes sense that Louis’ first step would be to explore a new genre and with the support of Steve Aoki, why wouldn’t he?
With that said, the song is not important because it demonstrates yet another branching off from One Direction. No, it’s important because the song was premiered the day after Louis’ mother died. Earlier this year, Johannah was diagnosed with a very aggressive case of leukemia, widely unknown to the media and One Direction fans. After pursuing treatment, she succumbed to the disease early on Friday morning at the young age of 42. “Just Hold On” was penned both for her and about her, as her son struggled watching his mom fight a losing battle. The song was premiered on The X-Factor UK the day after and was really an incredible performance, showing extreme maturity and strength for someone his age.
Not only did Johannah’s death spur the release of the song, it also spurred an outpouring of support from both former and current members of One Direction. After a heated Twitter feud between Zayn Malik and Tomlinson along with Malik being quoted as saying “I’m not on friend’s terms with Louis,” Directioners thought the once close friends were toast. Although not present at the X-Factor performance (the rest of the members of One Direction were), Malik publicly tweeted his support for Louis and claims he is “supporting him privately.” Maybe out of this horrible event, some friendships can be restored. Yes, “Just Hold On” will probably be a radio single and it probably make a lot of money, but the only thing that matters to Tomlinson is that his mother would have loved it.