One Direction

Active from: 2010
Albums: Take Me Home, Up All Night, Wishing on a Star, Live While We're Young
Members: Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik
Awards: MTV Video Music Award for Best New Artist, More
Record labels: Syco, Columbia, Syco Music

One Direction are an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, consisting of Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson. They signed with Simon Cowell's record label Syco Records after being formed and finishing third in the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor in 2010. Propelled to international success by the power of social media, their two albums Up All Night and Take Me Home, released in 2011 and 2012 respectively, broke several records, topped the charts of most major markets, and generated hit singles, including "What Makes You Beautiful" and "Live While We're Young".

One Direction are an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, consisting of Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson.

Often described as forming part of a new "British Invasion" in the United States, the group have sold over 14 million singles and 8 million albums, according to the band's management company, Modest! Management. Their achievements include two BRIT Awards and three MTV Video Music Awards. 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.

Musical style

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, and power pop, 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.

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 second studio album, Take Me Home (2012), is characterised by rock-inherited pop, prominent electric guitar riffs, bright synthesizers, double entendres for sexual intercourse, a homogeneous sound and message, and the pitch-correcting software Auto-Tune. Alexis Petridis for 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 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.


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.[103] 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. 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". 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".

Neil McCormick from The Daily Telegraph published an article on the nature of One Direction's success in North America, noting that Americans had left a gap in the market, writing that it took the prominence of Justin Bieber to demonstrate that there was still 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."

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