July 23rd, 2010, at 8:22 pm – to many people, this is probably just any other date. But to those of us lucky enough to be called Directioners, we know that it was at that moment that One Direction was born. Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, and Zayn Malik were all teenagers from the UK, eager to get their chance in the spotlight by auditioning for The X Factor. Knowing they would never make it through the competition as individuals, the judges put these five strangers together to form a band. A short time later, it was Harry who suggested the name One Direction. History was made that night and every July 23rd, fans all around the world come together to reminisce. If you are unfamiliar with One Direction’s complicated lore, here is a short synopsis of their time together. 1D went on to place third in the X-Factor competition but Simon Cowell still signed them to his record label. In September of 2011, they released their first single “What Makes You Beautiful.” From there, the 1D boys began to take over the world. They released the albums Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, Four, and Made in the A.M. which have sold over 70 million records worldwide. They embarked on four headlining world tours: Up All Night Tour, Take Me Home Tour, Where We Are Tour, and On the Road Again Tour. One Direction changed the game for boybands, breaking records worldwide. However, after five years, Zayn Malik unexpectedly left the band in the middle of the On the Road Again Tour to pursue a solo career and focus on his mental health. Subsequently, the four remaining boys finished the tour, put out one final album, and went on hiatus in January 2016. Unfortunately, this “hiatus” is still in effect with no end in sight. However, in the years since One Direction last graced the stage together, the boys have continued putting out music and pursuing solo ventures. On the 13th anniversary of one of the world’s biggest boybands, let’s take a closer look at what each of the boys is doing now.
Harry Styles: It only feels right to start with Harry Styles as the 29-year-old has undoubtedly achieved the most commercial success out of all the boys. He is currently one of the biggest stars in the world and an icon in music, fashion, and movies. His most recent album. Harry’s House, won Album of the Year at the 2023 Grammy’s and is one of the most popular albums of the past year. It contains the song “As It Was,” the album’s lead single and the anthem of 2022. On July 22nd, Harry played his final show of Love on Tour, his second solo tour. This tour began in 2021 and recently became the fourth highest-grossing tour of all time according to Billboard Magazine. The cultural phenomenon of Love on Tour ended with an emotional performance in Italy, a new cover of the One Direction song “Best Song Ever,” and a ten-minute instrumental song that Harry wrote specifically for his fans. In the future, we are all hoping that Harry takes a much-needed break after spending the last few years putting out three albums, three movies, and constantly touring. However, look out for Harry’s appearance as Eros in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a role that was teased back in 2021. And hopefully, with the Harry’s House era coming to an end, we will be getting new music soon!
Niall Horan: Next, let’s catch up on what Niall Horan is doing nowadays. First things first, Niall still loves to golf. That much has not changed in thirteen years! He founded his own golf management company called Modest! Golf Management and is always supporting its group of talented players. In addition, Niall became a judge on The Voice this past season and will be returning again this fall. Niall’s start on a similar competition show was useful as he ended up winning his very first season with an incredible performer named Gina Miles. Regarding his music, Niall Horan has maintained incredible success and continues to release hit albums. Most recently, he released his third album on June 9th, 2023 called The Show which included singles such as “Heaven” and “Meltdown.” It is a beautiful pop album filled with danceable hits and love songs for his long-term girlfriend, Amelia Wooley. Niall is also always in the news for his beautiful and hilarious friendship with singer Lewis Capaldi, which resembles the teasing relationship he had with the One Direction boys at the beginning of his career. Currently, Niall is playing the festival circuit this summer and preparing to embark on his world tour in support of the album next year! He was not able to tour for his second album, Heartbreak Weather, so this will be Niall’s first time on the road since 2018, and is sure to be an amazing show!
Louis Tomlinson: A few months ago, in his documentary called “All of Those Voices,” Louis admitted that he was not ready for the band to take a hiatus. Therefore, it took Louis the longest time after One Direction to find his footing, especially after he lost both his mom and sister. However, Louis also has proven to have one of the most loyal fanbases which has supported him both in and out of the band. Through their support, he has discovered his own musical voice and found his niche. On November 11, 2022, Louis released his second studio album called “Faith in the Future.” In his documentary, Louis reveals that it is his most truthful and his best album. His time spent in One Direction crafting his songwriting skills paid off (Louis was the most prolific songwriter of the band, writing on 38 of their 109 released songs). He has migrated more into the indie rock, pop punk, and alternative genres which allow his voice to shine. Recently, he released the deluxe version of the album with added songs such as “High in California” and “Change.” Thankfully, Louis maintains a very special and intimate relationship with his fans while also protecting his private life with his family and son, Freddie. Currently, he is traveling the world on the Faith in the Future Tour where his trips down into the crowd at the barricade have become legendary. Hopefully, he is also working on his next album and we will be able to hear new music soon!
Liam Payne: Unfortunately, Liam has found himself to be a bit of a controversial figure in the past year for comments he made about One Direction while going through some very intense personal issues. Similar to Louis, he seemed to struggle a bit with the band’s break. However, he has recently announced his sobriety and seems to be thankful for the support he received from the rest of the 1D boys during that time. He is slowly re-emerging into the public eye with a few live shows planned for the fall. He has also mentioned working on new music, particularly a ballad about the One Direction boys and their unwavering kindness towards him. Given the success of his songs such as “Strip That Down” and “Midnight,” it is not hard to imagine that Liam’s comeback to the music industry will be well-received. Until then, fans are thankful that he is returning to his status as the most active member on social media. His TikTok and Instagram lives are charming and he is always found lurking in comment sections providing us with the most 1D content we have seen in months. Liam’s love for the One Direction days is apparent to all and one can imagine that he will probably be the most active on the anniversary!
Zayn Malik: While Zayn chose to leave the band in March of 2015, he will always be one of the boys in the eyes of most fans. Thankfully, he is returning to the music industry just in time for the anniversary. Just a few days ago, on July 21st, Zayn released his first solo song since his 2021 album “Nobody is Listening. It is called “Love Like This” and thus far, has been incredibly well received. Just like Liam, his return has been highly anticipated. Zayn has always been one to shy away from the prying eyes of the public so it has been a while since fans have even seen him, only hearing rumors about him every few months. Therefore, it was a little shocking when he announced an in-depth interview on the popular podcast, “Call Her Daddy,” which delved into many topics that people had been speculating about since the One Direction days. He discussed his motives for leaving One Direction, the rumors about what he's been up to since then, and most importantly, his love for his daughter. Khai was born to Zayn and his then-partner, Gigi Hadid, in September 2020. Zayn seems focused on being a good father and protecting Khai from the spotlight. Hopefully, there is more music and potentially a tour to come from Zayn soon!
July 23rd is a day when we can all come together and celebrate how proud we are of the boys who have grown so much in the past thirteen years. Sometimes, it seems that there will never again be a band that took over the world in quite the way that One Direction did. The memories that we share as a fan community are priceless. I hope that you get together today and celebrate that - watch the X-Factor video diaries, spend all day quoting their funniest moments (my pick is pretty much anything they said on 1D day), wear your merch, and blast your favorite album. While we wait for this hiatus to end (90 months and counting), make sure to keep supporting Harry, Niall, Louis, Liam, and Zayn in each of their endeavors. And happy 13th anniversary of One Direction!
- Abby Jester