One Direction were always my guilty pleasure as a teenager and whilst I still enjoy one or two songs after a few drinks, their decision to focus on their solo careers wasn’t a heartbreak for me. But boy, was it a smart move.
The first to leave was Zayn, whose solo sound has transformed him from a probably-hairless ‘popstar’ to a credible R&B musician. The Pillowtalk singer admitted to The Fader that he wanted to leave the band from the very start, criticising them back in 2015: “would you listen to One Direction, sat at a party with your girl? I wouldn’t”. Zayn’s debut album Mind of Mine was released in early 2016, with it hitting Number 1 on both the Official UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard Chart, whilst singles Pillowtalk and Like I Would charted in the UK Top 10. He has since provided a single for Box Office hit Fifty Shades Darker alongside Taylor Swift and collabed most recently with Party Next Door. Whilst anxiety issues have remained a problem for Zayn through his solo career, the 24-year-old has certainly gained credibility.
Liam Payne hasn’t released any music since the band’s split, but has instead been hitting magazine headlines nearly every week due to girlfriend Cheryl Fernandez-Versini’s pregnancy. Since the birth of his son, it has been speculated that Payne is working with Hip-Hop trio Migos on his debut album which is reportedly “influenced by Drake”.
Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan have both also made efforts as soloists. Horan signed with Capitol Records and released intimate, acoustic Folk single This Town in September 2016 which gained him much deserved recognition for his vocal aptness and guitar-playing abilities. The single peaked at number 9 in the UK Singles Chart. No further music has since come from the artist, and I can’t imagine that he is set to become a global success by himself, but he is sure to be respected within the Folk/Indie fanbase.
Despite having the weakest vocals in the band, Tomlinson looked set to storm the charts in December 2016, collaborating with electro house DJ Steve Aoki to release Just Hold On amidst the tragic death of his mother. The single charted in the UK Top 10 but didn’t show much promise to dominate. It has since seemed that music isn’t on top of Tomlinson’s list of priorities, with him most recently being caught up in a court order after a brawl with a fan at an American airport.
One Direction frontman Harry Styles has most recently released his solo work, giving us a taste of what’s to come in his upcoming album. During his time in the band, it was clear that he had the most powerful vocals and his first single confirms this sentiment. Sign of the Times has been in the charts for two weeks and reached number one in the UK Singles Chart and Billboard Top 100 almost immediately. It’s 70’s sound boasts influences from the likes of David Bowie, welcoming Rockier sounds to the ears of his young One Direction fans. Styles’ album is imminent, and set to dominate charts globally – leaving him to battle with former bandmate Zayn for the most solo success.