BSBB Round 1: One Direction, "Steal My Girl" vs. Tove Lo, "Habits (Stay High)"

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CRAIG JENKINS: One Direction’s “Steal My Girl” is a throwback to the mannered piano-driven pop of the power ballad-heavy late ‘80s, and like a lot of that stuff, it’s richly tuneful but also sort of clinical. Tove Lo’s wounded “Habits (Stay High)” is vulnerable in all the spots Zayn and the boys are buffed and shellacked, but 1D’s bombast remains world-beating.

My Vote: “Steal My Girl”
CAITLIN WHITE: I'm currently in the middle of a Tove Lo-esque binge to forget a devastating heartbreak in two parts, so I might be a little bit biased on this. But even so, the fact remains that the idea behind "Steal Your Girl" is an offensive and antiquated one. It turns women into chattel, objects that can be pilfered and snapped up, instead of loving, intelligent beings that enter partnerships willingly and out of their own volition. It's tired, it's played out and it's downright sexist. Even so, "Steal My Girl" is technically a love song praising the perfect girlfriend, they've been together forever, all other men want her etc., but the kicker is the line "she belongs to me." That's just not how we should visualize relationships anymore — or ever! — especially when that message is coming from the group that speaks the most directly to the largest number of teenage girls in the entire world. No wonder Tove Lo's last relationship failed — this is the kind of infrastructure that powerful, talented women are trying to find love in? Someone get me a bourbon on the rocks.

My Vote: “Habits (Stay High)”
JASON LIPSHUTZ: I have been waving the “Steal My Girl” flag since day one: its combination of piano-pounding arena bombast, breathless verses and pristinely arranged production (always an underrated part of One Direction’s music) makes the song the best hair-metal single of 2014. Tove Lo’s debut album, Queen of the Clouds, is one of the most complete pop albums of the year, but “Habits (Stay High)” is secretly one of the weaker songs on it. Don’t be ashamed to embrace 1D’s ode to the perfect girl over Tove’s catchy, messy hit.

My Vote: “Steal My Girl”
JILLIAN MAPES: How many classic rock hits can One Direction *almost* bite before it gets old? If “Steal My Girl” is any indication, we may never know. The reigning boy-banders pulled a piano line that’s eerily similar to Journey’s “Faithfully,” and it makes the song feel infinite and timeless. “Habits” ultimately feels a little too same-y amidst artists like Lorde and Banks.

My Vote: “Steal My Girl"
JEREMY D. LARSON: “Habits (Stay High)” is immediately disqualified because of its false premise: staying high does not keep anyone off your mind. When you’re high they seep back into your life as a misshapen wraith still putting the screws to your broken heart. Meanwhile, “Steal My Girl” sounds like Journey’s “Faithfully” and that makes everyone happy all the time.

My Vote: “Steal My Girl”
HARLEY BROWN: Gonna go with "Habits (Stay High)" for the slightly unfair reason that I can't stop listening to it (and "Steal My Girl’s” opening piano riff just makes me think of and wish I were listening to Journey). But it's one of the most easily identifiable pop songs I've heard in recent memory: everyone's gotten high, maybe eaten too many Twinkies, and regretted life decisions, but not everyone makes a really superb song about it.

My Vote: "Habits (Stay High)"

“Steal My Girl”
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