On this day ten years ago, a small boy band by the name of One Direction formed on the X Factor. Little did these five teenagers know, they would become the biggest boy band in the world and capture the hearts of millions…
For all the Directioners out there (including myself), this look back in history will be second nature to you. However, for those who are not as committed or blessed with this expert knowledge, here is your time to be filled in.
It all started in 2010, when Liam Payne (16 at the time), Niall Horan (16), Harry Styles (16), Louis Tomlinson (18) and Zayn Malik (17) all auditioned as solo artists for the TV talent show The X Factor and wowed their way to the show’s ‘Bootcamp’.
As solo artists, Bootcamp was unsuccessful for the boys as they all failed to get through to the next round. However, thanks to guest judge Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell, they decided to call all five boys back and form a new boyband.
The boys went on to perform Torn at Simon’s judge’s houses – one of their most memorable performances – and went all the way to the final of the show. Unfortunately, they came third to runner-up Rebecca Ferguson and title-winner Matt Cardle. However, as Zayn said, this wasn’t the last you were going to see of One Direction.
Only a year after coming third on the X Factor (2011), the boys released their debut album Up All Night, with their debut single What Makes You Beautiful reaching number one on the UK Singles Chart. Other chart-toppers from the album included Gotta Be You and One Thing.
After having the fastest-selling debut album in 2011, 1D headlined there first UK tour in December 2011. The tour was an amazing success – as the fandom grew bigger – and they then took it over the pond to America to promote their album. Whilst they were there, they were the opening act for Big Time Rush (believe it or not). They became the first UK band to have their debut album reach number one in America – something The Beatles couldn’t even do – and made their way into the Guinness World Records book. The album went to number one in 16 countries and sold over three million copies.
On rolled September 2012 and the boys released their second album Take Me Home and released the leading single Live While We’re Young. One Direction was establishing themselves as an unbeatable force as this single reached the top ten in almost every country and their second single, Little Things went straight to number one in the UK – and 35 other countries…
Once again, the boys were record breakers as the Take Me Home album went to number one in the US, making them the first boy band in the US to record two number-one albums in the same calendar year. Next also came the Take Me Home tour – including 123 shows in Europe, North America, Asia and Oceania.
In July 2013 their third album Midnight Memories was released, alongside the leading single Best Song Ever (the highest-charting single in the US to date). The music video for this song is perhaps one of their most memorable as we see all the boys in costume, as they discuss with themselves (weird, I know) about what their movie should be about. We even get to see Zayn as a woman!
In September 2014, 1D announced their fourth album, funnily named Four– released on November 2014. This album saw more of the grown-up side to the boys, with more mellow and thoughtful tracks such as Once in a Lifetime, Fools Gold and Fireproof, yet also the pumped up side for those party nights with tracks like No Control, Little Black Dress and Girl Almighty.
One Direction became the only group in the history of the Billboard Charts to have their first four albums to debut at number one. Following their fourth album, the boys embarked on their fourth tour in four years, the On the Road Again Tour.
Unfortunately, on 25 March 2015, Zayn Malik announced his departure from the band. This was no surprise to fans as Malik always seemed more distant compared to the other members of the groups. It was later revealed – after his departure – in an interview with Zane Lowe that Zayn never wanted to be a part of the group in the first place.
The group, now a four, continued the ‘On the Road Again’ tour and smashed it as always. A few months after Zayn’s departure, 1D released Drag Me Down – to the surprise of many fans – as there was no hint or promotional material, they were releasing any up-and-coming content.
This did not stop their success as the single topped the charts in many countries around the world. This was the lead single from their fifth album (the first without Zayn) Made in the A.M – released on 13 November 2015. Once again, this was another level Directioners had not experienced before as their songs were again more grown-up.
The promotional hit Infinity was released before the album hit the charts, and Perfect was released in October 2015. The album went on to win Album of the year at the American Music Awards in November 2015 – their second year in succession.
Shortly after the release of Made in the A.M., my heart (alongside millions around the world) broke as the band announced they were going on hiatus after five years together. It was confirmed by Louis the break would only be 18 months, however, it is now five years later and we still haven’t got the desperately-wanted reunion just yet.
1D performed for one last time together (where it all started) on the X Factor final on 13 December 2015 as they performed Infinity and History, alongside goodbye messages from some of their celebrity fans, including manager Simon Cowell.
Since the hiatus, all five boys (despite Zayn leaving) have been committed to their solo careers – something they couldn’t do in the first place originally on X Factor.
Zayn was the first to release solo music with his debut single Pillow Talk – featuring his current girlfriend Gigi Hadid in the music video, with whom he is expecting his first child with. He then released his debut album Mind of Mine in March 2016 and debuted at number one in many countries including the UK.
Since then, he has released a number of singles including Dusk Till Dawn – featuring Sia and released his second album Sour Diesel on 18 October 2018. Malik has also featured on some movie soundtracks including performing I Don’t Want To Live Forever, featuring Taylor Swift for Fifty Shades Darker. He also released wHo from the 2016 Ghostbusters soundtrack and A Whole New World on the 2019 Aladdin remake – alongside Zhavia Ward.
Niall Horan was the first out of the four boys to release a single in September 2016 after signing a solo deal with Capitol Records. This Town went to number nine on the UK singles chart and number 20 in the Billboard charts. On 4 May 2017, Slow Hands was released and entered the top ten in the UK.
These two singles were released from his debut album Flicker – released on 20 October 2017 – and showcased Horan’s individuality as it was inspired by some of Niall’s idols including Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles. Since then, Niall has also released his second album Heartbreak Weather in March 2020 with the singles including Nice to Meet Ya, Put a Little Love on Me and No Judgement.
Not only has Horan made beautiful new music, but since the band dismantled he has also established his own golf management company Modest Golf – alongside Mark McDonnell and Ian Watts. This was perfect for Niall as he is a keen player and fan of golf. (Not forgetting his fall alongside caddying for Rory Mcllroy…)
Harry Styles signed for Columbia Records. On 7 April 2017, Styles released his debut single Sign of the Times and later released his self-titled album in May 2017. Just like Niall, Harry showcased his individual music taste as the album portrayed a 1970’s rock style to it. Other singles released from the album Two Ghosts and Kiwi.
Just after his debut album, Harry was cast in the Christopher Nolan directed film Dunkirk, playing a British soldier Alex on the World War Two front line. Then, in October 2019 Styles released his second album Fine Line – with the singles including Lights up and Adore You – reaching third in the UK charts.
Liam released his first solo single Strip That Down – featuring Quavo – on 19 May 2017. This single was a surprise to many fans as it includes the line I used to be in 1D (now I’m out free), offending some of the Directioners.
Payno went on to release many other singles including Bedroom Floor, Get Low with Zedd, For you with Rita Ora (from the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack), Familiar with J Balvin, Polaroid with Jonas Blue and Lennon Stella and Stack it Up with A Boogie wit da Hoodie. However, it wasn’t until December 2019 he released his debut album LP1.
Whilst on hiatus from the band, Payne also began dating former X Factor judge Cheryl Cole in 2016 and together they had one son, Bear Grey Payne in 2017. However, the pair later split in 2018.
Finally, Louis Tomlinson released Just Hold On ft Steve Aoki in December 2016. Tomlinson and Aoki debuted the song on the X Factor final in an emotional performance as it was only a few days after Louis’s mother Joanna sadly died from Leukaemia.
In July 2017, Louis went on to release his next single Back to You with Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals – reaching number eight on the UK singles chart. A few months later, Louis released Just Like You and Miss you in December 2017.
During this time, Louis returned to his X Factor roots as not only was he a guest judge at Simon’s judges’ houses, but he became a permanent judge in the fifteenth series and won that year with his act Dalton Harris.
Tomlinson finally released his debut album Walls on 31 January 2020. Sadly, more tragedy struck for Louis as his younger sister Felicite died from an accidental overdose on 13 March 2018. However, at the beginning of the hiatus, Tomlinson also became a dad after welcoming son Freddie Reign Tomlinson on 21 January 2016 with Brianna Jungwirth.
Since then, he has also reunited with former girlfriend Eleanor Calder in early 2017.
Although five years have passed since that 18-month hiatus, One Direction’s music, their fandom and everything else that goes with them is still as popular and as relevant as it was at the peak of their career.
Ten years have gone so quick, and through the fandom, we have seen them grow from teenage boys to grown men – especially through the maturity of their music.
We have seen them produce their own individual music, expressing their own talent we perhaps didn’t see before. However, it is a much-anticipated return we are all dying for (especially me).
So, here’s to 10 amazing years and to many more years as we await their return…
By Katie Green
Feature Image Credit: CHRISTOPHER POLK