One Direction …To The Top!
The story began in 2010 when the paths of five young men converged to make music history. One Direction may have started as a handful of individual singers failing to win a competition, but the end result proves that when joined together, their voices can change the face of modern music.
Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson auditioned as solo candidates for the British version of television music competition The X Factor. When none of them progressed beyond the initial stages, guest judge Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls suggested they form a five-piece boy band and try their luck in the “Groups” category. With only five weeks to come together with a unified sound, the boys got to know each other and practiced constantly to find their groove. Styles even came up with One Direction as the band’s name, thinking it would sound good to the audience when announced on the show.
One Direction, commonly referred to as 1D, finished in third place on The X Factor, but the exposure launched them into stardom. Music magnate Simon Cowell immediately signed One Direction to a $2 million contract with his label Syco Records. The X Factor Live tour gave One Direction a chance to perform in front of crowds across the United Kingdom and build their fan base. In September 2011, the boys finished recording their debut album Up All Night and released the first single, “What Makes You Beautiful”. The song hit number one on the UK Single Chart and became the most pre-ordered song in Sony Music Entertainment history.
Two more songs released in the UK and hit the top ten, “Gotta Be You” and “One Thing”. One Direction then signed a North American record deal with Columbia Records, re-releasing “What Makes You Beautiful” stateside and becoming a sensation in America. Fellow boy band Big Time Rush from Nickelodeon signed them as an opening act for their concert tour, further exposing them to tweens, teens and even adults all over the world.
For One Direction, a funny thing happened on their way to the top. Everyone said boy bands were finished after groups like New Kids on the Block, Nsync, 98 Degrees and Backstreet Boys had their heyday in the 1990’s. Yet here they were, five boys thrown together in a music competition, sharing the spotlight with others just like them. Does this mean boy bands are back? Big Time Rush and British band The Wanted certainly think so, and judging by fans’ reactions to One Direction, boy bands are hotter than ever.
One Direction seems to have figured out the perfect recipe for success under the tutelage of Simon Cowell. As a band, they are unstoppable on the music charts. It’s the invidual personalities, however, that make this work—something about each member of One Direction creates magic when added to the mix.
Harry Styles was born in Evesham, Worcestershire, England in 1994. Recognizable for his trademark floppy hair and dimples, Harry is a bundle of energy who loves to joke and laugh. Simon Cowell, often referred to as “Uncle Simon” by the boys, says that Harry is definitely the leader of group and has more charisma than any boy he’s met at that age. His female fans definitely love his flirtatious ways!
Zayn Malik is the brooding “bad boy” of the group, complete with tattoos and a smoking habit that he’s trying to quit. Born in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England to a Pakistani father and English mother, Zayn had a hard time fitting in at school due to his mixed heritage. If there’s a fashion star in 1D, it’s got to be Zayn!
There’s one member who isn’t British, and that’s Niall Horan—he’s from Mullingar, County Westmeath, Ireland. Happy-go-lucky Niall loves his fans almost as much as he loves playing the guitar. Before his audition on The X Factor, Niall performed at various venues in Ireland, citing swing music and good old-fashioned American rock music as inspirations.
Liam Payne brings his golden vocals and shy smile to 1D’s sound. His early life in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England was spent in hospitals undergoing treatment for a scarred and dysfunctional kidney. Then in secondary school, Liam was bullied by classmates and took up boxing lessons to defend himself. His abstinence from alcohol to protect his remaining kidney and his strength in the face of adversity make Liam a fantastic role model for his fans.
Pulling One Direction together with poise and charm is Louis Tomlinson. A former acting buff in Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, Louis said it was landing the role of Danny Zuko in Grease that gave him the courage to try out for The X Factor. His stage presence and good looks are a favorite at every concert.
Part of One Direction’s charm is that there’s something for everyone, whether it’s a bad boy, wholesome cutie or loud extrovert. And the band’s music speaks for itself. Artists like Justin Bieber and Big Time Rush have proved that there’s still an interest in clean-cut boys singing infectious pop that makes teenagers fall in love.
The best news for 1D enthusiasts is their new album titled Take Me Home. Recorded in Stockholm, Sweden, many of music’s biggest songwriters vied for a chance to work with the charmed band. “Live While We’re Young” is the first single set to drop at the end of September 2012, with a headline concert at Madison Square Garden in December.
Detractors say that One Direction won’t go the distance because there’s no breakout star like Justin Timberlake or Bobby Brown, who both left their bands for successful solo careers. But no one can argue that together, these five young men are a musical force whose voices blend together in perfect harmony. Their original sound and toe-tapping pop songs have revitalized the charts and introduced a new generation of the “British Invasion”. This quintet is definitely going in one direction…straight to the top!