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One Direction

One Direction

One Direction, often shortened to 1D, are an English-Irish pop boy band formed in London, England in 2010. The group are composed of Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson; Zayn Malik left the group in March 2015. The group signed with Simon Cowell's record label Syco Records after forming and finishing third in the seventh serie

One Direction, often shortened to 1D, are an English-Irish pop boy band formed in London, England in 2010. The group are composed of Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson; Zayn Malik left the group in March 2015. The group signed with Simon Cowell's record label Syco Records after forming and finishing third in the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor in 2010.

Propelled to global success by social media,One Direction's five albums, Up All Night (2011), Take Me Home (2012), Midnight Memories (2013), Four (2014), and Made in the A.M. (2015), topped charts in several countries, and generated hit singles including "What Makes You Beautiful" (their first number one on the UK Singles Chart, and the highest debut for a British act on the US Billboard Hot 100 since 1998), "Live While We're Young", "Best Song Ever", "Story of My Life" and "Drag Me Down". After the release of Four, One Direction became the first band in the US Billboard 200 history to have their first four albums debut at number one. Their third album, Midnight Memories, was the best-selling album worldwide of 2013.

Considered teen idols, One Direction were often subject to fan hysteria.[6][7] They embarked on four world tours, two of which were all-stadium. The band's Where We Are Tour, in support of Midnight Memories, was the highest-grossing concert tour in 2014, the highest-grossing tour by a vocal group in history, and the 15th highest-grossing concert tour of all time, grossing $290.2 million (unadjusted for inflation). The band went on indefinite hiatus in January 2016, allowing all members to pursue other projects.


As of 2020, the band have sold a total of 70 million records worldwide,[11] making them one of the best-selling boy bands of all time. The band have won nearly 200 awards, including seven Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, six Billboard Music Awards, seven American Music Awards (including Artist of the Year in 2014 and 2015), and 28 Teen Choice Awards. In 2013, they earned an estimated $75 million, becoming the second highest earning celebrity under 30 according to Forbes.As the world's best-selling artist of 2013, the group was named the Global Recording Artist of the Year by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry. In 2014, Billboard named the band "Artist of the Year". Forbes ranked them as the fourth highest-earning celebrities in the world in 2015, and subsequently in second in 2016.

In 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson auditioned as solo candidates for the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor. They all failed to progress in the "Boys" category at the bootcamp stage of the competition, but were instead put together to form a five-piece boy band,thus qualifying for the "Groups" category. Nicole Scherzinger, a guest judge, and Simon Cowell have both claimed to have come up with the idea of forming the band. In 2013, Cowell said that it "took him 10 minutes to put them together as a group". Subsequently, the group got together for two weeks to get to know each other and to practise. Styles came up with the name One Direction.[24] For their qualifying song at "judges' houses", and their first song as a group, One Direction sang an acoustic version of "Torn". Cowell later commented that their performance convinced him that they "were confident, fun, like a gang of friends, and kind of fearless as well." Within the first four weeks of the live shows, they were his final act in the competition. The group quickly gained popularity in the UK.

One Direction achieved third place in the competition and immediately after the final, their song "Forever Young", which would have been released if they had won The X Factor, was leaked onto the internet.[28] Shortly afterwards it was confirmed that One Direction had been signed by Cowell to a reported £2 million Syco Records record contract.[29] Recording for their debut album began in January 2011, as they flew to Los Angeles to work with RedOne, a record producer. A book licensed by One Direction, One Direction: Forever Young (Our Official X Factor Story), was published by HarperCollins in February 2011, subsequently topping The Sunday Times Best Seller list.The same month, the boy band and other contestants from the series participated in the X Factor Live Tour. During the tour, the group performed for 500,000 people throughout the UK. After the tour concluded in April 2011, the group continued working on their debut album. Recording took place in Stockholm, London and Los Angeles, as One Direction worked with producers Carl Falk, Savan Kotecha, Steve Mac, and Rami Yacoub, among

In September 2012, "Live While We're Young", the lead single from the group's second album, was released, and was a global success. It reached the top ten in almost every country it charted in and recorded the highest one-week opening sales figure for a song by a non-US artist in the US.[77] A second single, "Little Things", resulted in the band's second number one single in the UK.[78] In November 2012, One Direction's second studio album, Take Me Home, was released.[79] It was an international hit, reaching number one in over 35 countries. Upon reaching number one on the Billboard 200, the group became the first boy band in US chart history to record two number-one albums in the same calendar year alongside becoming the first group since 2008 to record two number-one albums in the same year.[80] One Direction became the first group ever to have their first two albums reach atop the Billboard 200.[81] Take Me Home sold 540,000 copies in its first week in the US, debuted atop the Billboard 200, and topped the charts in more than thirty-four other countries.[82][83] Additionally, Up All Night and Take Me Home were the number three and number four best-selling albums of 2012 globally, each album selling over 4.4 million units worldwide.[84] The album and "Little Things" both debuted at number one in the UK simultaneously, making One Direction the youngest act in British chart history to achieve that.[85]

Take Me Home was written in groups and has an average of just under five songwriters per track. Savan Kotecha, Rami Yacoub, and Carl Falk, who composed One Direction's hits "What Makes You Beautiful" and "One Thing", spent six months in Stockholm developing songs for the album, and were able to shape melodies around their tones.[86] One Direction began recording the album in May 2012, in Stockholm at Kinglet Studios.[87][88][89] The album cover artwork features the group surrounding a traditional British K2 red telephone box, a familiar sight on the streets of the UK.[90] Take Me Home garnered mixed reviews from music critics. There was praise for its quality of production, while it was criticised for its generic, rushed nature.[91][92][93][94][95][96]

One Direction performed "Little Things" at the 2012 Royal Variety Performance in the presence of Queen Elizabeth II, and headlined a sold-out show at New York City's Madison Square Garden on 3 December 2012.[97][98] In February 2013, One Direction released a cover version of "One Way or Another" and "Teenage Kicks", "One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)", as the 2013 Comic Relief single.[99] As part of their involvement with the UK charity, One Direction travelled to Ghana to volunteer at a children's hospital, visit a school and make donations.

Following the release of Take Me Home, One Direction embarked on their second concert tour in February 2013, the Take Me Home Tour.[100] The concert tour consisted of 123 shows in Europe, North America, Asia, and Oceania. Ticket sales reached 300,000 within a day of release in the UK and Ireland, which included a six-date sell-out at the O2 Arena in London.[101] In the Australian and New Zealand markets, tickets grossed US$15.7 million, with all 190,000 tickets being sold for the eighteen shows to be held.[102] The tour received critical acclaim from music critics who praised the band's live vocals and their performance abilities and was a commercial success, selling 1,635,000 tickets from 134 shows.[103] In total, the tour grossed $114 million. The Official Charts Company revealed that One Direction had sold 2,425,000 records in the UK by February 2013.

2013–2014: Midnight Memories and This Is Us

One Direction in Glasgow on their Take Me Home Tour in February 2013

"Best Song Ever", the lead single of the group's then-upcoming third studio album Midnight Memories, was released on 22 July 2013. The song[105][106] is their highest charting single in the US to date, reaching number two.[107] It broke the 24-Hour Vevo Record with 10.9 million views on YouTube (this was the second time the band held the record with "Live While We're Young" attaining 8.2 million views on 20 September 2012). One Direction: This Is Us, a 3D documentary and concert film about the group directed by Morgan Spurlock and produced by Spurlock, Ben Winston, Adam Milano and Simon Cowell, was released by TriStar Pictures on 30 August 2013.The film was a box office success, topping the UK and US box offices and grossing over $60 million worldwide, and became the fourth highest-grossing concert movie.

On 16 May 2013, the band announced their first all-stadium tour, the Where We Are Tour. Tickets for the tour sold out in minutes and more shows were added due to "overwhelming demand". On 23 November 2013, in support of Midnight Memories, the band participated in "1D Day", a day dedicated to One Direction fans. The day constituted of a landmark 7.5-hour socially interactive YouTube live-stream featuring live band performances, celebrity guests including, Simon Cowell, Cindy Crawford, Piers Morgan, and Jerry Springer. On 28 October 2013, the second single from Midnight Memories, "Story of My Life", was released, charting at number six in the US and at number two in the UK, while charting at number one in countries such as Mexico, Spain, Bulgaria, Denmark, and Ireland.

The band performing in East Rutherford, New Jersey on 2 July 2013

Midnight Memories was released globally on 25 November 2013. It debuted at number one in the UK and in the US, making them the first group to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 with its first three albums, and the second to reach the top after The Monkees in 1967.The album was described by the band as edgier and as having a "slightly rockier tone" than their previous efforts. Despite being released at the year's end, it was the best-selling album worldwide in 2013 with 4 million copies sold globally. To promote the album, the band performed on both the American and British versions of The X Factor.

In December 2013, One Direction broke yet another UK sales record with the DVD and Blu-ray release of This Is Us. Nearly 270,000 copies of the film were sold in the UK within three days of its release, beating the record previously set by Michael Jackson's This Is It in 2010 by 10,000 copies. The group was named among the Top Global artists of 2013 by the IFPI because of strong digital downloads, physical albums, on-demand streams, and music videos. In 2013, they became the first boy band in history to gross $1 billion dollars.

The band embarked on the Where We Are Tour on 25 April 2014, and it was concluded on 5 October 2014. Playing 69 shows with an average of 49,848 fans per show, the tour grossed over $290 million, becoming the highest-grossing concert tour in 2014, the 15th highest-grossing concert tour of all time, and the highest-grossing tour of all time by a vocal group. The tour was attended by 3.4 million fans. In August of that same year, the group released their third book, One Direction: Where We Are: Our Band, Our Story: 100% Official.

2014–2015: Four

One Direction on stage in Santiago, Chile on 14 April 2014 during their Where We Are Tour

On 21 July 2014, One Direction announced One Direction: Where We Are - The Concert Film, a film which documents the concerts of 28 and 29 June 2014 that took place in San Siro Stadium during their Where We Are Tour. After the announcement, the band announced the film would also have a limited 10–11 October 2014 international cinema release before its home media release in November 2014. The group also released an autobiography book titled Who We Are on 25 September 2014.

On 8 September 2014, One Direction announced their fourth studio album to be titled Four, set to be released on 17 November 2014. As part of the announcement, one of the songs from the album, "Fireproof" was released for free download for 24 hours on their official website. "Steal My Girl", the album's lead single, was released on 29 September 2014, receiving critical acclaim for its classic rock sound. The second single from the album, "Night Changes", was released on 14 November, three days before the album's release. It also achieve platinum status, selling over one million units in the United States. Four was released on 17 November 2014, topping the Billboard 200 and the UK Album Chart. In total, in debuted at number one in 18 countries, selling 3.2 million copies. It became the top charted album on iTunes in 67 countries One Direction became the only group in the 58-year history of the Billboard 200 albums chart to have their first four albums debut at number one. In February 2015, the group embarked on their fourth world tour and second all-stadium tour, the On the Road Again Tour,grossing $208 million, making it the second highest-grossing tour of 2015.

2015–2017: Malik's departure, Made in the A.M. and hiatus

On 25 March 2015, the band released a statement announcing Malik's departure.The group made their first official public appearance as a four-piece on The Late Late Show with James Corden on 14 May, where they confirmed that they would continue working without a new fifth member. The On the Road Again tour concluded on 31 October 2015 after playing eighty shows in Australia, Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Grossing $208 million, over 2.3 million tickets were sold.

The group performing as a four piece after Zayn Malik's departure from the group at Soldier Field, Chicago in 2015

On 31 July 2015, the group released "Drag Me Down" without promotional material or announcement. Despite this, it still topped the charts in multiple countries, including France and Australia, making the song their first single to reach number one in those respective countries. It also reached number one in multiple other countries, including Ireland and the UK, while charting third in the United States. The single was the first single from their fifth studio album, Made in the A.M., and the first material released by the group after Malik's departure. On 22 September, Made in the A.M., was officially announced along with promotional single "Infinity" being released. The group began to reveal the track listing on their Snapchat stories to which it was later confirmed on iTunes. In October, another single, "Perfect", was released. It reached the Billboard top ten, making it the group's second consecutive (after "Drag Me Down") and fifth overall top ten hit, breaking The Beatles' record for the most top ten Hot 100 debuts among bands. Following the release, it was revealed that the group would be going on hiatus in 2016.

Made in the A.M. was released on 13 November 2015,[151] topping the charts in the UK among other countries while reaching number two in the U.S. It was the sixth-best selling album of 2015. At the 2015 American Music Awards on 22 November, One Direction won the award for Artist of the Year for the second year in succession. On 13 December, One Direction performed on The X Factor final. Their last televised performance as a group, before their hiatus, was on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve on 31 December 2015.

On 13 January 2016, Us Weekly published a report claiming that the group's hiatus will become a permanent split, with a "source" citing that each of the four remaining group members did not renew their contracts following the completion of the On The Road Again Tour in October 2015. Representatives for the group denied the report in a statement to Billboard, stating, "nothing has changed regarding hiatus plans for the group, and all will be revealed in due time from the band members' own mouths." By May 2017, all members of the group had released solo singles. Since then, all band members have pursued other projects.

At the 2017 Brit Awards, One Direction won the Video of the Year award for their song "History". Payne accepted the award on the behalf of the band. In February 2018, it was reported that the group had folded its touring company after applying for removal within the Companies House registry in October 2017.

2020: 10-year anniversary event

On 22 July 2020, One Direction posted on their Twitter, Instagram and YouTube accounts an image with the words "10 Years of One Direction" and the caption "Tomorrow! You and me got a whole lot of history #10YearsOf1D" in anticipation of their tenth anniversary the following day. The Instagram post received 7.5 million likes. The tweet received 1.8 million likes and the hashtag "10YearsofOneDirection" trended on Twitter.

On 23 July, One Direction launched a new anniversary website (, however, the site crashed shortly after its announcement due to the high volume of fans entering at once. Members Payne, Horan, Tomlinson and Styles also posted on their individual social media pages, thanking their fans and all five initial members for their support.[161] Styles' tweet reached one million likes in just over an hour.

On 23 July, One Direction premiered a retrospective video in celebration of their anniversary. Select remastered 4K versions of their past music videos and concert recordings were released between 23 and 28 July.


Waxwork of One Direction at Madame Tussauds, London

One Direction have been described as sparking a resurgence in the interest in boy bands as well as forming part of a new "British Invasion" (along with acts like Adele) in the United States. NPR described the group as "one of the biggest boy bands the world had ever seen and the group has been described as "the world's biggest boy band" as recently as 2020 Rolling Stone named "What Makes You Beautiful" the sixth greatest boy band song of all time. Billboard named Four the best boy band album of the last thirty years, calling it "the absolute standard-bearer for the last decade of pop. One Direction's music was considered pop that was rooted in guitar rock which was rare during their active years, with Rolling Stone calling the group "one of the great rock bands of the 21st century.

One Direction's rise to fame has been called "meteoric" with the group becoming the first British band to ever have their debut album top the US charts. During their continued rise in the United States in 2012, the mania surrounding the group was dubbed "One Direction Infection. That same year, "1D World" stores were opened around the United States as the group worked on their second studio album to meet the high demand for the band and "to give fans the ultimate One Direction experience.Part of the group's rise to popularity was their "atypical construct" in the sense that they don't dance, rarely wear matching outfits, and are heavily tattooed, all three which were rare in boybands of the past. They were credited with breaking "the boy band mold. Despite their differences in that regard, the group still used an approach pioneered by The Beatles in which each member was applied a persona; Horan as "the cute Irish one", Malik as "the quiet and mysterious one", Payne as "the mature and sensible one", Styles as "the charming flirt" and Tomlinson as "the funny and irresponsible one".

One Direction are also widely considered to have been one of the first groups and celebrities to have been propelled to global recognition by social media. Sonny Takhar, the chief executive officer of Syco Records, attributes the breakthrough to the power of social media. "Sometimes you feel the song's the star, but it's not like that here – it's the act," he said. "It's a real moment. Social media has become the new radio, it's never broken an act globally like this before." Will Bloomfield, the group's manager, added, "These guys live online, and so do their fans." Their management employs a social media team and the members all tweet themselves, "which helps create the illusion that they couldn't be any closer to their fans", according to Caspar Llewellyn Smith, writing for The Guardian. Sunil Singhvi, Twitter head of entertainment in the UK, stated that "the fans' ability, via Twitter, to tell Europeans about One Direction really catapulted them there, then from Europe to America, and now it's a global phenomenon." One Direction's Twitter account had amassed ten million followers by February 2013, with the account gaining followers at an average of 21,000 per day. Their rise in success has been greatly credited to social media, which allowed fans to not only spread the word about the group, but get live updates from concerts and interviews as well as about the band's whereabouts daily. One Direction, in their active years, were extremely present on social media and interacted with fans daily, giving them "an army of online fans." The Detroit News named them "the first megastar boyband of the Social Media Era.


One Direction greet Swedish fans in Stockholm, May 2012

During the mid-2010s, One Direction were dubbed as teen idols,[6] and were often subject to fan hysteria.[7][228][229] Neil McCormick of The Daily Telegraph, in an article on One Direction's success in North America, notes that Americans had left a gap in the market and it took the prominence of Justin Bieber to demonstrate that there still was a market for "clean cut, wholesome, whiter-than-white, middle class parent friendly pop: cute boys advocating puppy love. And what could be better than one cute boy, if not five?"[230] Bill Werde, a representative of Billboard magazine, commented, "There's a lot of possibility here, there's a lot of upside, that level of talent with those kinds of looks, it's really a perfect storm for a massive, massive successful phenomenon."[231] In NPR, Maria Sherman noticed that before One Direction's breakthrough, boy bands were "off the radar" since NSYNC went on an indefinite hiatus in 2002.[232]

Horan commented on One Direction as a boy band, "People think that a boy band is air-grabs and [being] dressed in all one colour. We're boys in a band. We're trying to do something different from what people would think is the typical kind of boy band. We're trying to do different kinds of music and we're just trying to be ourselves, not squeaky clean."[233] Leah Collins, writing for the National Post, remarked they had succeeded on the latter front. "For the most part, that just means the group presents themselves as typical, goofy and uncensored teenage boys – posting jokey YouTube videos, for instance, or boozing at awards shows." Writing for The Observer, Kitty Empire opined, "One Direction fulfill a great many boy band prerequisites (looks, soppy lyrics, tune-grasp, fame-lust) but their lack of routines points to the subtle digressions afoot here". Each member's individual identity is reinforced by their intentionally different personal styles. Caroline Watson, the band's original stylist, spoke about styling the band, "At the beginning I didn't want them all in black or all in leather – that whole stereotypical boy band thing." Instead, her original idea was for them to be the "male equivalent to the Spice Girls", with each member being a part of the group but still having his own individual style.


The X Factor
One Direction was born.

Further reading


Dare to Dream: Life as One Direction


Documentaries, videos and podcasts


One Direction - One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)

February 20, 2013

One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful (Official Video)

August 19, 2011

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