Analyzing solo careers of former One Direction members

Brianne Guanaga, Photographer

It was the year 2010 and the X-Factor was fairly a new television show. Fast forward two years later, the same five teenage boys who once performed in front of three judges, went on to win third place on the X-Factor and form the biggest boyband in the world..
In 2015, One Direction earned the title for the only band or artist that got No.1 on the charts for their first three albums, upstanding the Beatles and Michael Jackson. One Direction stayed in their prime for five glorious years as they became more popular and sold out more concert tickets. But on March 25, 2015, fifth-member member Zayn Malik, departed from the band. Although the now four-member group released a fifth album, “Made in the a.m.,” they soon announced they would be taking an 18 month break, which ended up being a permanent end to One Direction.
That marked just the beginning of the once called boyband, One Direction, who transitioned from a pop band to now solo artists taking different approaches to genres of music. As the former members of One Direction —Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik — started following in the footsteps of solo artists such as Justin Timberlake.
Zayn Malik became the first former member to drop a solo album titled, “Mind of Mine,” in 2016. The 18-track album mirrors both pop and R&B mixtures that combine fluently with Malik’s powerful voice. As his album became popular amongst social media outlets, Malik also featured on American Vogue with his model girlfriend, Gigi Hadid. While the hype of his album has died down for right now, recent videos posted on Instagram say he is not done with music just yet.
Following Malik, Niall Horan was the second member to release a song titled, “This Town,” which sounds similar in lyrics to One Direction’s previous love songs. The sweet melody combines with not only the instrumentals of the solo guitar but with his clear Irish accent. Horan then released his next single, “Slow Hands,” which differs tremendously from “This Town” because of the variety of instrumentals, such as the drums and backup singers. “Slow Hands” mirrors more of a pop, upbeat song that would definitely be easy to sing to on a long car ride. With the release of his singles, Horan has been on different late night shows with talk show hosts such as James Corden and Jimmy Fallon. The announcement of a tour or album release has not been discussed with the general public but fans still anxiously wait for it.
Right when One Direction announced the year and a half long break, another scandal came out about one of its members. As Malik and Horan both released songs and had some recognition with their solo releases, Louis Tomlinson, oldest member of One Direction had a son while on the break. The scandal was proven true once Tomlinson confirmed it. Months later, Tomlinson posted a picture on Instagram of his newborn son, Freddie. While Tomlinson can call himself a father, he can also call himself a solo artist. In 2016, Tomlinson collaborated with DJ, Steve Aoki to produce the song “Just Hold On.” While One Direction was mostly a pop band, the transition from pop to the dance and electronic genre was a great leap for Tomlinson. Fans from all over the world loved the new song along with the new sound Tomlinson was producing.
Just like Tomlinson, Liam Payne also had a son with singer Cheryl Cole on March 22, 2017. It seemed Payne fell off the grid for awhile, music wise, but in early May he released his first single, “Strip That Down,” featuring Quavo. His new sound differs from One Direction’s sound since the song uses more of a club-friendly beat feel with a hip-hop influence. While some fans appreciated his new sound, others miss his old, sweet pop.
Now the last member of One Direction, Harry Styles. Coming out with not only a photoshoot for Another Man Magazine, but he was on the cover of Rolling Stone for their April issue which features a three page spread on his life and photoshoots. Following the magazine cover was the release of his album which remains untitled with his hit singles, “Sign of the Times” and “Sweet Creature.” Before his album was released, he announced a world tour that already started in the West Coast and will progress into Europe.
While all the boys have gone through different paths of life in terms of music and personal lives, they all continue to live their dreams out. Whether becoming a new parent or going on a world tour, all five of the boys accomplished the goals they could not have done while being on the group. Although One Direction fans mourn the permanent split up, the trail the boys all individually blaze signifies they are not done with music.