One Direction (commonly initialised as 1D) 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, One Direction's three albums, Up All Night, Take Me Home and Midnight Memories, (released in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively), broke several records, topped the charts of most major markets, and generated hit singles, which include "What Makes You Beautiful", "Live While We're Young" and "Story of My Life".
Their achievements include four Brit Awards and four MTV Video Music 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. After the release of Midnight Memories, One Direction became the first band in US Billboard 200 history to have their first three albums debut at number one. Additionally, the album was a global success, debuting at number one on the UK Albums Chart and becoming the fastest and biggest selling album of 2013 in the UK.
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 practise. 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 finished in third place 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 US 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.
In addition, 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–present: Midnight Memories and This Is Us
One Direction: This Is Us, a 3D documentary and concert movie 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" slated to serve as 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. It is currently the fourth highest grossing concert movie.
On 16 May 2013, the band announced their first stadium tour, the Where We Are Tour, which is set to commence in April 2014. They plan to donate £200,000 of the tour's ticket sales to the Stand Up to Cancer charity.
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 behavior in schools. The campaign has raised over one million dollars.
On 23 November and 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 due to 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. 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. Afterwards, the cover of the single was posted on the One Direction account. On 11 October 2013, One Direction revealed the cover and track listing for the album with the track listing being revealed through a "#MidnightMemoriesTrackQuiz" on Twitter. It was confirmed that the band would perform on both the American and British versions of The X Factor in order to promote their album.
The album 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.
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". In point of fact, nearly 270,000 copies of the movie 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 Top Global artists of 2013 by the IFPI due to strong digital downloads, physical albums, on-demand streams, and music videos.
"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 80s 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
In 2011, the band performed on the Children in Need 2011 broadcast, 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. The group said it was "incredible" to be involved in the charity event as it was something that they had "always watched as children".
In February 2013, One Direction released a medley of "One Way or Another" and "Teenage Kicks", "One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks)", as the 2013 Comic Relief single.
For ITV’s Christmas campaign, they will be filming a set of pleas to their fans and the general public, asking them to donate £2.
In September 2012, Niall Horan organised an event to raise money for Irish Autism Action and another charity called and 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". Horan later reflected on the fundraisings saying that he was "honoured to be able to give back to his community".
In 2013, band members Liam Payne and Harry Styles partnered with Trekstock, a leading cancer charity in order 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 organization DoSomething.org.
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. 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".
- Niall Horan
- Zayn Malik
- Liam Payne
- Harry Styles
- Louis Tomlinson
- Up All Night (2011)
- Take Me Home (2012)
- Midnight Memories (2013)
- Up All Night Tour (2011–12)
- Take Me Home Tour (2013)
- Where We Are Tour (2014)
Awards and nominations
One Direction have been recipients of two 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 all nine awards they were nominated for at the 2012 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.
- List of Billboard Social 50 number-one artists
- List of artists who reached number one on the UK Singles Chart
- One Direction: Forever Young, HarperCollins (17 February 2011) ISBN 978-0-00-743230-1
- One Direction: The Official Annual 2012, HarperCollins (1 September 2011) ISBN 978-0-00-743625-5
- Dare to Dream: Life as One Direction, HarperCollins (15 September 2011) ISBN 978-0-00-744439-7
- One Direction: Where We Are: Our Band, Our Story: 100% Official, HarperCollins (19 November 2013) ISBN 978-0-00-748900-8
- at AllMusic
- at the Internet Movie Database