How Liam Payne became music’s answer to Ali G

He was always the least cool one...

In latest popstar does tone-deaf thing news, Liam Payne has been branded “cringe” and a “try hard” after appearing to brag about having a private jet on Instagram. “You can only get jet lag from a jet the rest of y’all have got plane lag,” Payne philosophised recently, in a caption that sounded like a lyric that even Kanye couldn’t get away with. Using the hashtag #NOFUCKS, Payne eventually deleted the post altogether after a backlash from fans, showing that he, at least, gives a modicum of fucks.

“Can someone please come and collect Liam Payne? He’s had a Capri Sun and he’s acting up to impress the year sevens again,” one tweeter quipped.


But Liam Payne has always been throughly uncool. This isn’t really news, is it? Just like that age-old music question – “Which was the best Beatle?” – there’s a new, modern equivalent: “Which is the least cool of the three uncool One Direction members?” And the answer is definitely “Liam Payne”.

Anyone with any sense – or rudiment sense of style, at least – knows that Zayn and Harry are pretty interchangeable as the only truly “cool” members of the now-dormant pop group. They clearly both got the hair, the swagger and the credible bangers in the 1D divorce.

Then there’s Niall, who’s just happy to be around really. Like a younger sibling who’s been allowed to sit in on his older brother’s band practice because their mother couldn’t find a babysitter in time. Niall has never tried to be cool – otherwise he wouldn’t be positioning himself as a Budget Ed Sheeran – and through that fact alone, he sits solely as an Inbetweener, sandwiched in the middle of One Direction’s cool and deeply uncool.

Louis just about gets saved from bottom spot too, if only for that time he signed for his hometown football team and attracted thousands of screaming fans for a reserve fixture. Or his solo mission to make indie great again.

Liam, though. Poor Liam. Oh, let us count the ways.

His X-Factor auditions spoke volumes

Before One Direction were pieced together in Simon Cowell’s typical Dr Frankenstein-like fashion, Payne originally auditioned for X-Factor as a solo artist. Sure, he was only 14 at the time and we all made foolish mistake as teenagers, but his song choices of Frank Sinatra and Michael Buble must continue to haunt his street cred to this day. Perhaps he hadn’t prepared and only had the CDs found in his dad’s car to hand. Even so, we still think that our own teen choices of Green Day, Wheatus and Limp Bizkit would have made for more humorous sources of youthful regret.


People think he’s a parody

Yes, fame can be an isolated place, full of yes men and every whims fulfilled. However, no celebrity should start dressing like Riff Raff. Payne’s fashion choices lately have been so agonisingly on trend that it’s verged on cliche. Stone Island? Check. Yeezy? Check. Trapstar? Check. Now we’re just waiting for the Supreme collab.

“Has Liam Payne created some kind of Ali G type of character,” one Twitter user recently asked, “because I can’t believe someone from Wolverhampton is actually doing this”.

Maybe Liam’s just parodying modern streetwear and Hypebeast culture? Maybe the jokes on us after all. Maybe, but probably not. He has the actual Mona Lisa on his trackies, for crying out loud.

That selfie video

If Liam’s private jet comments came across as a touch ungrateful and First World Problem-ish then you may want to cast your mind back to the time he took some selfies with fans and hated every second of it. Remember that – admittedly quite hilarious – moment below.

Not even Migos can save his solo career

We got to be honest: we didn’t have massive hopes for the post-1D solo careers. Zayn surpassed expectations, Harry surprised us, Louis Tomlinson did pretty much exactly what we had feared.

But Liam delivered an unprecedented stinker with ‘Strip That Down’ – perhaps the most offensive hip-hop parody since that one Lily Allen video? Not even Migos’ Quavo could help Liam, and he somehow managed to make Calvin Harris half cool again.