Musical superstars. Pop boy band One Direction became one of the biggest groups of the 2010s after its five members — Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik — met as contestants on the reality television series The X factor in 2010.
The five singers became a group at judge Simon Cowell’s behest and the record executive signed One Direction to his label Syco Records in 2010. The group went on to release five studio albums together, becoming the first band in history to have their first four records debut at number one on Billboard 200. Propelled by an ardently supportive fan base, One Direction’s 2014 tour was the highest-grossing concert of the year.
In addition to commercial success, the pop sensations also received critical acclaim including six Billboard Music Awards and seven American Music Awards. In 2014, Harry Styles compared the group’s popularity to that of The Beatles during an interview with Top of the Pops Magazine.
“We all sat and watched the film of The Beatles arriving in America. And, to be honest, that really was like us,” he said. “Stepping off the plane, the girls, the madness. It was exactly the same as when we got there – just 50 years earlier.”
In March 2015, the band announced that Malik was leaving the group. “After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction. Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year,” the statement shared via Facebook read.
In August of that year, the four remaining members of the band announced that they would be taking an extended hiatus beginning in 2016. Before taking a step back, the group went on a final tour and released one last album, “Made in the A.M.” One Direction’s last live performance as a band was at Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve on December 31, 2015.
After the band dissolved, its members went on to pursue solo careers. Styles won three Grammy Awards in 2021 for his second solo album, “Fine Line,” while Malik released three solo albums and collaborated with Taylor Swift on the 2016 duet “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever.” Horan, for his part, released “Heartbreak Weather,” which debuted at number one in the United Kingdom in 2020.
In the years since One Direction disbanded, Malik has spoken publicly about not enjoying his time in the group. In a 2015 interview with Rolling Stone, the “PILLOWTALK” singer said of his former group’s discography, “That’s not music I would listen to … Would you listen to One Direction at a party with your girl? I wouldn’t. To me, that’s not an insult, that’s me as a 22-year-old man.”
From when they disbanded to whether a reunion is possible, scroll through for everything the former members have said about leaving One Direction: