Under the skin of One Direction

Under the skin of One Direction

We look back on the history of their astounding careers and ask what it was that made five very average British boys a worldwide sensation.


After it was rumoured that One Direction’s temporary hiatus was to become a permanent split in 2016, fans across the world mourned the loss of their favourite boy band. From humble beginnings as five individual teenage boys on reality TV competition the ‘X Factor’, One Direction went on to achieved five Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, eleven MTV Europe Music Awards, a combined wealth of £25 million, and the highest-grossing tour ever by a vocal group. If that’s not impressive, what is?

In just five years since their launch, 1D have performed to over 7.5 million fans and released an album every year, but no means a minor achievement. From their debut single, “What Makes You Beautiful” to the last released track before their supposed split ‘History’, their electro pop rock sound and family-friendly, loveable vibe have captured hearts around the world.

From March 25th 2015, however, it all seemed to go slightly downhill. After Zayn Malik left the group, citing stress and exhaustion as the cause, in addition to hinting at the desire for a solo career. Despite this, the remaining four powered on and released ‘Drag Me Down’, which reached number 1 on the US iTunes billboard within 30 minutes of its release, proving their unwavering popularity. Following the release, it was revealed that the boy band would be going on a break, which was then suggested by US Weekly to be a permanent disbandment as the boys did not renew their contracts following their most recent ‘On The Road’ tour.

They’ve made more money, dated more women (remember when Harry dated Caroline Flack, 15 years his senior!?) and been the cause of more crying girls than any other boy band.

And oh how they’ve grown! Last week it was announced Louis had become a father to a baby boy with friend Briana Jungwirth, Harry is set to pursue a solo career on the big screen, and since leaving the group Zayn has begun his own individual music ventures, and is even rumoured to be thinking about going to university.

But the question is, how did they get so big? Boy bands come and go all the time, from Blue and Westlife to Take That and The Backstreet Boys, yet One Direction soared above them all, even becoming more popular than the number one, original boyband-of-all-boy-bands, The Beatles.

Well, to begin is their age. At the start of their careers, they were all aged around 17-19, making them the ideal age to be the heartthrobs for millions of teenage girls. Add to this their image as a playful, easygoing bunch of friends just hanging out and having a good time rather than rocking the music world. Just take a look at any of their on stage performances to see how relaxed they are around each other, play fighting and throwing water at each other.

What made them truly successful was breaking America. As described by The Daily Telegraph, at the time of their career launch, there was a gap in the market for ‘clean cut, wholesome, whiter-than-white, middle class parent friendly pop: cute boys advocating puppy love’, making them loved not just by British fans, but American too. As for what their future holds after this split/ break, we will just have to wait and see.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at some of their biggest hits and most loved tracks throughout the years.

‘That’s What Makes You Beautiful’

A great beginning to their career, this debut song released in 2012 received certified double-platinum status and achieved number 1 on the UK charts. Not bad for a bunch of spotty teenagers ey?

‘Live While We’re Young’

Roll on 2012 and roll on their second album ‘Take Me Home’, which included the ever cheerful, upbeat bubblegum pop single ‘Live While We’re Young’ about nostalgia and freedom, a slightly different sound but still one that would win them the hearts of many.

‘Best Song Ever’

2013-2014 saw the release not only of a third album, but also their 3D film ‘This Is Us’, which features the song ‘Best Song Ever’ from their ‘Midnight Memories album’ which broke the 24-Hour Vevo Record with 10.9 million views on YouTube. The video, directed by comedian James Corden contains some rather unorthodox cross-dressing…

‘Steal My Girl’

On 29th September 2014, the band released the single ‘Steal My Girl’, the lead single on yet another album ‘Four’ – a fairly anticipatory title given Zayn was to leave in 2015 making the five
indeed four.

‘History’

And here we are now with the final single before their break released on their ‘Made In The A.M’ album, a nostalgic look back on the journey they’ve been through together in which they insist ‘this is not the end!’. Who knows what the future holds for these four?

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