Purity rings are quite a topic in the tabloids, young pop stars claiming a righteous path, promising to remain ‘pure’ until marriage.  What develops is usually a premature nuptial or the ring somehow disappears from the wearer’s hand.  One band took it even further and called themselves after the things: the Canadian electronic duo Purity Rings, known for their synthpop, dream pop, and witch house styles.  Yet, one boy group who perhaps never gave a thought to the infamous accessories was One Direction.  That is, until half the British band received purity rings as prizes after a stint on Jimmy Kimmel Live, competing in a “Skype Scavenger Hunt” against the rest of the group.

Skyping from dressing rooms at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, the English-Irish pop group spoke live over split-screen video with the host of ABC television network’s late-night show.  Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik went up against Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson in the stakes for best toothpaste-created facial hair, best American accent, and fastest placement of underwear over trousers.  Harry went a step further and merely discarded the trousers, for which Kimmel awarded first prize: the purity rings, which the host joked must be worn until the boys’ 80s.

Jimmy Kimmel is used to musicians.  The area around his studio in Hollywood often sees its streets being closed down for his ‘block party’ concerts, which have seen artists like Depeche Mode and Lady Gaga perform.  Combined with other elements of his irreverent topical and comic talk show (featuring famous personalities from the worlds of film and television, music and sport, and spur-of-the-moment interviews with people on the street), Kimmel usually presents the “Scavenger Hunt” with ordinary people in their homes.  However, the Skype sponsored competition has also seen sporting legends James Worthy and Bill Walton ‘spar’ in a NBA edition.

Skype is definitely the way to connect these days.  Founded in 2003 by Dave Horstman and acquired by Microsoft Corporation in 2011, these days everyone is on it, whether for personal communications or business.  Musicians have seen this and are quickly utilising the social media technology.  For example, Paul Allender, lead guitar player for heavy metal band Cradle of Filth, recently began giving free guitar lessons to fans via Skype technology.

One Direction are currently on a 100-show tour of Europe, Australasia and North America, before the TriStar Pictures movie of their meteoric rise to fame, This Is Us, is released in theatres in August later this year.  The musicians have come a long way from their win on Simon Cowell’s The X Factor back in 2010, formed into a band by the judges after they failed to secure places as individual performers.  Blending dance-pop, pop rock, power pop and teen pop styles, the boys have since released two albums, Up All Night and Take Me Home, and gone on to sell over 14 million singles and 8 million albums which, along with merchandise, have deservedly made One Direction into a veritable ‘business empire’.