One Direction (commonly abbreviated as 1D) are an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, composed of Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. Previously, Zayn Malik was a member until his departure from the band in March 2015. The group signed with Simon Cowell’s record label Syco Records after forming and finishing third in the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor in 2010. Propelled to international success by social media, One Direction’s four albums, Up All Night (2011), Take Me Home (2012), Midnight Memories (2013) and Four (2014) topped charts in most major markets, and generated hit singles including “What Makes You Beautiful”, “Live While We’re Young”, “Story of My Life” and “Night Changes”.
Their achievements include five Brit Awards, four MTV Video Music Awards, eleven MTV Europe Music Awards, and nineteen Teen Choice Awards out of nineteen nominations, 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. In 2014, Forbes listed them the second-highest earning celebrities under 30, with the group earning an estimated $75 million from June 2013 to June 2014.
After the release of Four, One Direction became the first band in the U.S. Billboard 200 history to have their first four albums debut at number one. Their third album, Midnight Memories, was the biggest-selling album worldwide of 2013 despite being released in late November. In 2014, Billboard named One Direction Artist of the Year.
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 practice. 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 U.S. Upon arrival in the U.S. 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 U.S. 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 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 U.S. and, by August 2012, had sold over 3 million copies worldwide.
April 2012, an American band that went by the same name filed a trademark infringement lawsuit According to the lawsuit, the U.S. band had been using the name since 2009, recorded two albums and filed an application to register the trademark name in the U.S. in February 2011. The U.S. 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 U.S. group was trying to make money from One Direction’s success and that the boy band was the first to use the name in U.S. 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 U.S. 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.
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-U.S. artist in the U.S. 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.
2013–14: Midnight Memories and This Is Us
One Direction: This Is Us, a 3D documentary and concert film 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 began in April 2014. 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 behaviour in schools.
On 23 November 2013, 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 because of 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. It 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. 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. To promote the album, the band performed on both the American and British versions of The X Factor.
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. Nearly 270,000 copies of the film 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 because of strong digital downloads, physical albums, on-demand streams, and music videos.
2014–present: Four and Malik’s departure
On 21 July, One Direction announced One Direction: Where We Are – The Concert Film, a film which documents the 28 and 29 June 2014 concerts that took place in San Siro Stadium during their Where We Are Tour. After the announcement, the band announced the film will also have a limited 10–11 October 2014 international cinema release before its home media release in November 2014 The group also released an autobiography book titled Who We Are on 25 September 2014.
On 8 September, One Direction announced their fourth studio album to be titled Four, set to be released on 17 November 2014. As part of the announcement, one of the songs from the album, “Fireproof” was released for free download for 24 hours on their official website. “Steal My Girl”, the album’s lead single, was released on 29 September, and the music video was released on 24 October. The second single from the album, “Night Changes”, was released on 14 November, three days before the album’s release. Four was released on 17 November, topping the Billboard 200 and the UK Album Chart.
On 22 November, Paul Higgins, the group’s tour manager who has been with them since its formation, parted ways with the band. The band confirmed at the BBC Music Awards that following the success of Four, they had hopes to continue to go “somewhere else” on their fifth album.
On 25 March 2015, the band released a statement announcing Malik’s departure. They say that they were angry at first because of Zayn Malik’s departure. The group made their first official public appearance as a four piece on The Late Late Show with James Corden on 14 May, where they confirmed that they would continue working without a new fifth member.