One Direction (commonly abbreviated as 1D) are an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, composed of Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and previously, Zayn Malik until his departure from the band on 25 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 international 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 most major markets, and generated hit singles including "What Makes You Beautiful", "Live While We're Young", "Best Song Ever", "Story of My Life", and "Drag Me Down".
Their awards include six Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, eleven MTV Europe Music Awards, seven American Music Awards (including Artist of the Year in 2014 and 2015), and 28 Teen Choice Awards, among many others. According to Nick Gatfield, the chairman and chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment UK, One Direction represented a $50 million business empire by June 2012. They were proclaimed 2012's "Top New Artist" by Billboard. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, by April 2013, they had an estimated personal combined wealth of £25 million ($41.2m) making them the second-wealthiest musicians in the UK under 30 years of age. In 2014, Forbes listed them the second-highest earning celebrities under 30, with the group earning an estimated $75 million from June 2013 to June 2014. In June 2015, Forbes listed their earnings at $130 million for the previous twelve months, and ranked them the fourth highest earning celebrities in the world. In 2016 Forbes ranked them the world's second highest earning celebrities.
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. The band's Where We Are Tour in support of Midnight Memories and Four, was the highest-grossing concert tour in 2014, and the highest-grossing tour ever by a vocal group, generating $282 million. In 2014, Billboard named One Direction Artist of the Year. The band is currently on a hiatus that began in January 2016, allowing all members to pursue other projects.
2010–11: The X Factor
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 failed to progress to the "Boys" category at "judges' houses" but were put together to form a five-piece boy band at Wembley Arena, in London, England, in July 2010, during the "bootcamp" stage of the competition, 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 practice. Styles came up with the name One Direction. 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 last 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. Shortly afterwards it was confirmed that One Direction had been signed by Cowell to a reported £2 million Syco Records record contract. 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 others.
2011–12: Up All Night
Released in September 2011, One Direction's debut single, "What Makes You Beautiful", reached number one on the UK Singles Chart, after becoming the most pre-ordered Sony Music Entertainment single in history. Subsequent singles, "Gotta Be You" and "One Thing", peaked in the UK Singles Chart top ten. In November 2011, they signed a record deal with Columbia Records in North America. Steve Barnett, the co-chairman of Columbia Records, said it was not a difficult decision to sign One Direction; "I just thought there was a void, and maybe they could seize and hold it." "What Makes You Beautiful" was released in the United States in February 2012, where it debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 28, becoming the highest debut for a British act since 1998. It has sold over 4 million copies in the US Upon arrival in the US in February 2012, One Direction embarked on a radio promotion spree, as well as their first North American concert tour as an opening act for Big Time Rush. They made their first US television appearance on The Today Show, at the Rockefeller Center; an estimated 15,000 fans descended on the plaza. Critically commended for its appeal to the teenage audience, One Direction's first studio album, Up All Night, was released globally in early 2012. It became the UK's fastest-selling debut album of 2011, and topped the charts in sixteen countries. The album bowed atop the Billboard 200 chart, making One Direction the first British group in US chart history to enter at number one with their debut album. They were inducted into the Guinness World Records as a result. Up All Night also became the first album by a boy band to sell 500,000 digital copies in the US and, by August 2012, had sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
In April 2012, an American band that went by the same name filed a trademark infringement lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, the US band had been using the name since 2009, recorded two albums and filed an application to register the trademark name in the US in February 2011. The US band said they were entitled to three times the profits made by the UK band, as well as compensatory damages in excess of US$1million. The lawsuit claimed that Syco and Sony Music "chose to ignore the plaintiff's rights and wilfully infringed them" after they realised in early 2011 that the two bands shared the same name. Syco Records subsequently counter-sued, suggesting the US group was trying to make money from One Direction's success and that the boy band was the first to use the name in US interstate commerce. The BBC reported in September 2012 that the UK group won the legal dispute over the right to keep using their band name; the US band changed its name to Uncharted Shores. The change of name was announced in a joint statement that also noted both groups were happy with the outcome.
In December 2011, One Direction embarked on their first headlining UK concert tour, the Up All Night Tour. In early 2012, they announced Australasian and North American legs of the concert tour, with dates from April to July 2012. The tour, comprising 62 shows, was met with positivity both critically and commercially. A recording of a concert from the tour, Up All Night: The Live Tour, was released in May 2012. In addition to the DVD topping the charts in twenty-five countries, its global sales had exceeded 1 million copies by August 2012. One Direction's first book to be licensed in America, Dare to Dream: Life as One Direction, published in the United States in May 2012, topped The New York Times Best Seller list. In June 2012, Nick Gatfield, the chairman and chief executive officer of Sony Music Entertainment UK, stated how he expects One Direction to represent a $100 million business empire over 2013. Gatfield was quoted as saying, "What you might not know about One Direction is that they already represent a $50 million business and that's a figure we expect to double next year". In August 2012, the group's record sales exceeded 8 million singles, 3 million albums, and 1 million DVDs, and they performed "What Makes You Beautiful" at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony in London, which represented the handover to Rio de Janeiro as the host of the 2016 Summer Olympics. One Direction were the biggest winners of the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards winning their three nominations on 6 September 2012, including Best New Artist.
2012–13: Take Me Home
One Direction's second studio album, Take Me Home, was released in November 2012. 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. One Direction began recording the album in May 2012, in Stockholm at Kinglet Studios. The album cover artwork features the group surrounding a traditional British K2 red telephone box, a familiar sight on the streets of the UK. 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. The album's lead single, "Live While We're Young", released in September 2012, 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 The album and its second single, "Little Things", both debuted at number one in the UK simultaneously; something that One Direction became the youngest act in British chart history to achieve. 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. 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 5 million units worldwide.
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. 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. 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.
The Official Charts Company revealed that One Direction had sold 2,425,000 records in the UK by February 2013. One Direction embarked on their second concert tour in February 2013, the Take Me Home Tour. The concert tour consists of over 100 shows in Europe, North America and Australasia. Ticket sales reached 300,000 within a day of release in the UK and Ireland, which included a six-date sell-out at London's The O2 Arena. 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. 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.
2013–14: Midnight Memories and This Is Us
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 features the song "Best Song Ever", released on 22 July 2013. "Best Song Ever" was the lead single of the group's third studio album Midnight Memories. 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. "Best Song Ever" 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). On 16 May 2013, the band announced their first stadium tour, the Where We Are Tour, which began in April 2014. On 30 May 2013, the band announced a partnership with Office Depot on a limited-edition capsule collection of back to school supplies. They also confirmed that a portion of the proceeds from the alliance would go toward an anti-bullying educational program intended to promote kinder behaviour in schools.
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, Jerry Springer and many more. The event was unique not only because of its long runtime but the unprecedented use of social media whereby fans got to participate in the show interact directly with the band via Google+ Hangout.
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. "Story of My Life" was revealed as the second single of the album with each member posting a photo from their childhood. 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 their 3-D concert film 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.
2014–15: Four and Malik's departure
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, and the music video was released on 24 October 2014. The second single from the album, "Night Changes", was released on 14 November, three days before the album's release. Four was released on 17 November 2014, topping the Billboard 200 and the UK Album Chart.
On 22 November 2014, Paul Higgins, the group's tour manager who has been with them since its formation, parted ways with the band. The band confirmed at the BBC Music Awards that following the success of Four, they had hopes to continue to go "somewhere else" on their fifth album. In support of Midnight Memories and Four, the band's Where We Are Tour was the highest-grossing concert tour in 2014, and the highest-grossing tour ever by a vocal group, generating $282 million.
On 25 March 2015, the band released a statement announcing Malik's departure. They admitted that they were angry at first because of Zayn Malik's decision. 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. Since leaving the band, Malik has gone on to have solo success with his number one debut single "Pillowtalk" and album Mind of Mine.
2015–17: Made in the A.M. and hiatus
On 31 July 2015, the group released "Drag Me Down" without promotional material or announcement. The single is 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. Following the release, it was revealed that the group would going on hiatus in 2016 to take a break. On 22 September, the title for the fifth studio album, 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. The album was released on 13 November 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. Louis Tomlinson later confirmed that the break would be around 18 months. 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 would 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 said-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.
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.
"What Makes You Beautiful"
One Direction's debut single, "What Makes You Beautiful", features a prominent guitar-based chorus and riff. It also contains cowbell instrumentation, and the middle eight consists of an "oh na na na" hook. It is among the best-selling singles of all time, selling over 5 million copies.
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One Direction's debut studio album, Up All Night (2011), is predominantly a pop music record, containing elements of teen pop, dance-pop, pop rock, with electropop and rock influences. Digital Spy's Robert Copsey described the album as a "collection of PG pop rock with killer choruses", while The New York Times considered it "full of easy rock-inflected pop, blithe and sometimes clever." Jason Lipshutz of Billboard acknowledged that the album demonstrates an originality in sound that was "necessary for the revitalization of the boy band movement". The songs "One Thing" and "What Makes You Beautiful" were particularly noted for the genres of power pop and pop rock, for their "powerhouse" guitar riffs and "forceful" choruses.
Their second studio album, Take Me Home (2012), is characterised by rock-inherited pop, prominent electric guitar riffs, bright synthesisers, a homogeneous sound and message, and the pitch-correcting software Auto-Tune. Alexis Petridis of The Guardian interpreted its signature sound as a "peppy, synth-bolstered take on early-80s new-wave pop, heavy on clipped rhythms and chugging guitars," which, he said, is at least an improvement on the substitute contemporary R&B "that was once the grim lot of the boyband." Jon Caramanica, writing in The New York Times, considered the album "far more mechanical" than their debut album, although noted that it is sonically and lyrically similar. The album's lyricism speaks of falling in love, unrequited love, the insistence that flaws are what make a person unique, commitment, jealousy and longing for past significant others.
Erica Futterman for Rolling Stone favoured their live acoustic performances as both showing, "Horan's ability to play guitar, as well as One Direction's admirable live vocals. There was no need to worry about a backing track or a bum note, a pleasant realization at a pop show." Herald Sun's Cameron Adams opined that One Direction have "strong pop voices". Melody Lau of the National Post wrote, "It's easy to get lost in inherent appeal of their perfectly coiffed dos and almost-too-put-together preppy style but somewhere in the midst of all the love-struck squeals of teenage girls are guys who can actually sing and, to a certain extent, entertain." Jane Stevenson of the portal site Canoe concurred: "What I didn't really prepare myself for was that they all can actually sing in concert." Chris Richards, writing in The Washington Post, dissented from the approval: "As the five traded couplets, it was tough to imagine a future Justin Timberlake, Ricky Martin or Bobby Brown emerging from the pack. No one voice stood out." Mike Wass of Idolator felt One Direction's "surprisingly accomplished effort" of Kings of Leon's "Use Somebody" proved that One Direction are "more than capable" of evolving their sound.
Their third album Midnight Memories (2013) is a pop rock record, a slight departure from the band's original teen pop sound. Liam Payne called Midnight Memories a "slightly rockier and edgier" album than their previous material. The album is heavily influenced by 80's rock and folk music and briefly integrates elements of dubstep, notably in "Little White Lies". The album's lyrical themes primarily revolve around love, heartbreak and sexual intercourse. Many critics praised its lyrical depth and musical composition, as well as the group's level of involvement in the production process.
Their fourth album Four (2014) was released on 17 November 2014. Payne once again claimed that the album would be "edgier" and that the group had written most of the songs for it; Horan came up with the name of the album, commemorating the fact that it is One Direction's fourth record to date and that it has been four years since the band's formation. Signifying a further maturation of their pop sound, the album's first single, Steal My Girl, was dubbed by Billboard as "no What Makes You Beautiful, but its Coldplay-like piano pop could be a good direction", and that the band was "not entirely ready to let go of its bubble-gum days". Rolling Stone described the record as "saturated with retro vibes"; its songs "split the difference between big, splashy Eighties pop rock and more elegant Seventies flavours – a very pesky whipper-snapper move that's not so far from what Haim's hit Days Are Gone did last year."
In 2011, the band performed on the BBC's Children in Need 2011 charity telethon, helping raise over 26 million pounds. In 2012 they extended their involvement with Children in Need as they opened the telecast with a performance of their single "Live While We're Young". A prominent annual event in British culture, the group said it was "incredible" to be involved in Children in Need as it was something that they had "always watched as children".
In February 2013, One Direction released "One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)" (a medley of "One Way or Another" and "Teenage Kicks") as the 2013 single for the UK's other major charity telethon Comic Relief. For ITV's Santa charity Christmas campaign, they filmed a set of pleas to their fans and the general public, asking them to donate £2. The band have made numerous other appearances for charitable causes, including the 2011 Pride of Britain Awards where they presented 13-year-old quadruple amputee Danielle Bailey the Child of Courage award at her school assembly, and the 2014 Royal Variety Performance where they played in front of Prince William and Catherine at the London Palladium.
In September 2012, Niall Horan organised an event to raise money for Irish Autism Action and another charity, called Temporary Emergency Accommodation Mullingar, based in his hometown. Due to overwhelming demand to participate in the fundraising, the ticket website for the event broke down. Horan's brother Greg commented on the website crash, saying that "there were 500 tickets and they were all snapped up pretty quick".
In 2013, band members Liam Payne and Harry Styles partnered with Trekstock, a leading cancer charity to help raise money for cancer research. As ambassadors of the charity, the duo collaborated to offer the chance for one fan and a friend to win an evening out with them in return for a donation to the charity as part of an exclusive "#HangwithLiam&Harry" global campaign. They had originally set a goal of raising $500,000 and ended up raising $784,984. Trekstock later added that this amount would allow them to "complete funding of their Hodgkin's lymphoma trial, in the hope of offering a much brighter future to thousands of children and young people affected by this form of disease." One Direction were named the most charitable in 2013 behind Taylor Swift by social change organisation DoSomething.org.
In 2014, One Direction donated £600,000 for the Stand up to Cancer campaign by giving portions of their ticket sales revenues from their Where We Are Tour. On 15 November 2014, One Direction joined the charity group Band Aid 30 along with other British and Irish pop acts, recording the latest version of the track "Do They Know It's Christmas?" at Sarm West Studios in Notting Hill, London, to raise money for the 2014 Ebola crisis in Western Africa.
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?" One Direction have been described as sparking a resurgence in the interest in boy bands, and as forming part of a new "British Invasion" in the United States. 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."
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. One Direction's Twitter account had amassed 10 million followers by February 2013, with the account gaining followers at an average of 21,000 per day. In an approach pioneered by The Beatles, each member is known for his feature; Horan is "the cute one", Malik is "the quiet and mysterious one", Payne is "the sensible one", Styles is "the charming one" and Tomlinson is "the funny one". 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. 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." Leah Collins, writing for the National Post, remarked that One Direction 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 fulfil 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".
- Niall Horan - guitar, vocals (2010–2016)
- Liam Payne - vocals (2010–2016)
- Harry Styles - vocals (2010–2016)
- Louis Tomlinson - vocals (2010–2016)
- Zayn Malik – vocals (2010–2015)
- Up All Night (2011)
- Take Me Home (2012)
- Midnight Memories (2013)
- Four (2014)
- Made in the A.M. (2015)
- The X Factor series 7 (finalists)
- Up All Night: The Live Tour
- One Direction: This Is Us
- One Direction: Where We Are - The Concert Film
Awards and nominations
One Direction has received five BRIT Awards—winning their first with "What Makes You Beautiful" for Best British Single at the 2012 BRIT Awards, three NME awards, two Kids' Choice Awards, and four MTV Video Music Awards, among other awards. One Direction won 27 awards from 29 they have been nominated for at the Teen Choice Awards. One Direction also won two American Music Awards out of their two nominations for Favorite Pop/Rock Album and Favorite Pop/Rock Band/Duo/Group, respectively.
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