One Direction are a British boy band who formed on the seventh series of UK TV talent show, The X Factor, after entering as individual candidates. They are comprised of Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and, formerly, Zayn Malik. They finished third on the programme, after which they signed with Simon Cowell’s record label, Syco Records.
The group began work on their debut album in 2011, working with producer RedOne in Los Angeles. Carl Falk, Savan Kotecha, Steve Mac and more would later work on songs for the record from different locations. Their debut single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ went straight to Number One on its release in September 2011 and became the most pre-ordered single in Sony’s history. When the track was released in the US a year later it charted in the Billboard Hot 100 at Number 28, the highest placing debut for a British act since 1998.
Their first album ‘Up All Night’ was released in the UK on November 18 2011. It was the fastest-selling debut album of 2011 in the UK and went to Number One in 16 countries, including the US, Sweden and Canada. They became the first British band to enter the American charts at Number One with their debut album.
One Direction performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, playing ‘What Makes You Beautiful’.
The group’s second album was released in November 2012 and was titled ‘Take Me Home’. The record’s lead single, ‘Live While We’re Young’, caused controversy when the band were accused of plagiarizing The Clash’s ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go?’. They performed the album’s second single, ‘Little Things’, in front of the Queen at the 2012 Royal Variety Performance.
The five-piece released a cover of Blondie’s ‘One Way Or Another’ in February 2013 as part of Comic Relief. They also travelled to Ghana for the charity to volunteer at a children’s hospital and visit a school.
Later that year, the 3D documentary One Direction: This Is Us was released, directed by Morgan Spurlock. It topped the box offices in the UK and US and made over $60 million worldwide, making it the fourth highest grossing concert movie to date.
Their third album ‘Midnight Memories’ was released on November 25 2013. On November 23, the band participated in “1D Day”, a day dedicated to their fans. They joined in with a seven-and-a-half-hours long YouTube live stream, including live performances and special guests, including Simon Cowell. The album topped the charts in the UK and US on release, and broke US chart history by making them the first band to debut at Number One on the Billboard 200 with their first three albums.
Less than six months later, the group announced the release of their fourth album, ‘Four’. Before its release, Payne described it as “edgier”, while Good Charlotte were rumoured to have collaborated with him and Tomlinson in the writing of some of the songs. Ed Sheeran, McFly, Kodaline and The 1975 are also reported to have had some input on the record. ‘Four’ came out on November 17 2014. The band have sold more than 50 million records worldwide.
One Direction released another concert film, One Direction: Where We Are – The Concert Film, on July 21, featuring footage from two concerts at Milan’s San Siro stadium a month prior. They also confirmed the release of an autobiography, Who We Are, for September 2014.
Zayn Malik left the band in 2015, citing in his leaving statement that he wished to live as a “normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” His debut solo album, ‘Mind Of Mine’ went to Number One in multiple countries, including the UK and US.
Shortly after Malik’s departure, the band released their fifth studio album, ‘Made In The A.M’ with the lead single ‘Drag Me Down’. They have been on hiatus since January 2016. All members have since signed solo contracts.
One Direction have won two NME Awards for Worst Band in 2012 and 2013, while Harry Styles won Villain Of The Year in 2013 and 2014.