Looking back on 10 Years of One Direction
10 years ago 5 boys were put together in a band by Simon Cowell (even if it actually was Nicole Scherzinger idea). Not winning the X Factor UK clearly didn’t stop Harry, Niall, Liam, Zayn and Louis from becoming the biggest boyband of the decade. Thinking back now, it all feels like a fever dream. The amount of time, as well as emotional and physical energy put into them since the age of 13 is insane to comprehend. So much happened in only 5 years of the band being active. Their worldwide success was so unprecedented, unreal, and if you weren’t a fan then, it must be so hard, even impossible to fully understand what was going on every time any of the boys did remotely anything.
I remember the first time I watched the What Makes You Beautiful music video like it was yesterday. I was in my friends basement and we ended up on that video which lead to all the X Factor performances, individual auditions, the video diaries, twitcams. Literally any interview or piece of content that was out there at that time, it was covered. When their first album Up All Night came out, that was the real turning point. A pop rock influenced record filled with relatable and extremely catchy songwriting to right away grab the attention of anyone who would listen to it. That album featured mostly Zayn, Liam and Harry’s vocals featuring Louis and Niall which arguably makes it a record with no bad tracks.
What’s cool about the band is that from day one they were involved in the songwriting process. For UAN, the best tracks; Taken, Same Mistakes, Everything About You, were co-written by them. On Take Me Home, 3 out of 13 tracks were also co-written. Midnight Memories is the record where we started to get a more mature and real feel of the boys all-round talents. Louis himself wrote 9 out of the 14 songs and the band as a whole; 12. That number only increased as the albums went by which made their work even more appealing.
Being a fan and the fans was perhaps the biggest and most important part of One Direction’s career. Stan twitter started (for the most part I guess) with this fandom. Twitter during that time was flourishing and that platform became essential when millions of 12-16 year olds began making accounts to create a hub where everything and anything related to One Direction could be shared and spoken about. A wonderful thing that happened using Twitter is internet friends. We all had them. I had them. Wherever in the world you were it didn’t matter because the one thing you had in common was stronger than anything else at that time; One Direction. Going to shows in Toronto was a huge meeting point. I remember sitting outside Rogers Centre with my friends just looking out at everyone before going into the arena for the show - so many people were running up to one another hugging and screaming, meeting for the first time. That was pure and simple friendships. I think other fandoms would understand this, but during that time there truly was nothing more beautiful than making friends and building relationships based on a mutual love for music.
The live experience aspect of One Direction is one that is beyond describable. When I get asked “what’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?”, the only answer is One Direction. I was lucky enough to have been to multiple shows and they’re all a blur but the emotions that were lived during those 2 hours: unexplainable. There was a rush leading to the concert date, the day of was an event of its own, then the actual show which was spent screaming, crying and being so mesmerized by every component (venue, fans, the boys, visuals, etc) which is insane to try to reiterate.
The PCD (post concert depression) was definitely a real thing. “After the sudden increase of adrenaline one experiences during a concert, many people feel depressed and empty afterwards and constantly feel the urge to cry. PCD often lasts roughly 3 days after a show but can potentially linger for weeks.” No matter how big the shows got, the boys somehow had the ability to make stadiums feel intimate and like home. I can guarantee you that we all felt 100% safe and comfortable being in those venues. Their last concert in Montreal at the Olympic Stadium on September 5th 2015, I was seated alone and that was one of the greatest experiences I’ve ever had. You get into a headspace where you just know that it’s perfectly okay to let go and sob, dance, scream, sing with the person beside you, and I did all of that and it was easy and acceptable with everyone surrounding me.
We’ve (the fans) all been to concerts since and the adrenaline and excitement we all collectively felt at a 1D show, we know we’re never going to feel that again. What One Direction and their entire crew created was magic and unique and I am beyond grateful to have had the opportunity to live that. All that also encompasses the after show where you could finally meet up with your friends that were seated elsewhere. Just one look and the instant flood of happy tears and mutual understanding of the last 2 hours came together in a hug. These people, these friends, we’re still together 10 years later because of that insane experience we all shared.
10 years later and it’s still difficult to properly put into words the love and infatuation we deeply went through. We all had our lives but everything came back to 1D at the end of the day. Whether it was catching up on Twitter, reading fanfictions, watching their 7 hour livestream to promote their third album Midnight Memories (that had leaked hours before), them playing on iCarly and so much more. All the “movies”; A Year In The Making, Up All Night Live, This Is Us and Where We Are. For five years the content in any form never stopped.
I really think One Direction came into the world at the right time and age. We all grew up with them and today we can still agree that they created brilliant pop rock albums and are still talented boys and there is no shame in liking them. Before they announced their “hiatus” their fifth studio album. Made In The A.M. was released without the contribution of Zayn - who had previously left the band on March 25th 2015 during the OTRA tour. That record was sadly a perfect way to let go. It demonstrated growth and how they individually came into their own as artists.
To this day, One Direction is one of the greatest boybands to have ever existed. They created a whole new way of looking at how boybands operate. It was a special and incredible time for music and the fact that all 5 were able to go on their own to produce records that truly represents themselves rather than five people at once is also an accomplishment.
Here's to ten.