Five Beautiful Years with One Direction

With One Direction approaching their first ever hiatus fans are scrambling to attend concerts, get photos, and record video of Harry, Louis, Niall, and Liam while they still can.  We’ve been promised that the boys will return after some much needed and well deserved R&R but it still doesn’t make the fact that their absence is going to sting, any less true.

This inspired me to take One Direction fans on a journey through some of the best and most inspirational part of the last 5 years with our boys. We’ve seen them at their best, we’ve seen them struggle, but most importantly, we’ve seen them thrive.  It’s been a blessing to watch these amazing young men develop into who they are now; a real treat to see them grow into strong, intelligent, humanitarians of men.

In 2010 five teenage boys approached the X Factor with separate dreams.  Each of the five boys made it through to the boot camp stage where they were sadly eliminated, but their dreams weren’t finished quite yet.  At the suggestion of Nicole Scherzinger; Niall, Harry, Louis, Liam, and Zayn were brought together as a group and given a second chance.  The excitement on the faces of the five boys when they realized they got another go at chasing their dreams is something no One Direction fan will ever be able to forget.  It’s something that still tugs on your heartstrings to watch, I can’t get through it without tears myself.

So the boys made it to the judges homes and were put through to the live finals after really hitting it off and coming to Simon with not only a sense of camaraderie but extreme talent together as a five piece.  The boys were an instant hit, winning over crowds not only at the performances but around the world.  Young girls and boys all over the world were suddenly overcome with One Direction craze and it didn’t stop there, in fact, it still hasn’t stalled; five years later.

Although the boys came in third place at the X Factor, an end some fans still don’t take as 100% truth, they hit superstardom overnight when mentor Simon Cowell signed them to his own music label, Syco.

It’s been said that they packed their bags to go to the television show and never came home, and it’s true.  They became boy band royalty faster than they knew what to do with and they were thrust into a life that held promise, hope, and passion along with some darkness, ill willed people, and bad intentions by those who should have been looking out for them.  All in all, the boys have thrived, have lived, have succeeded far beyond what most people expected and have done so because of their incredible talent, their passionate hearts, and their ability to take a chance and transform it into something great.

In December of 2010 their life changing journey officially began with the writing of their debut album Up All Night.  Their first album was written between the US, UK, and Sweden during which time the boys also joined 9 other X Factor contestants for the X Factor Live tour across the UK.  Joining this tour allowed more interest to be raised around the boys before their November album release.

Their first headlining tour began in December of 2011 under the same title as their debut album; Up All Night.  The boys sang their own songs and covers as they toured across Britain and Ireland.  The initial tour concluded in January of 2012 but the demand for One Direction was high so dates were quickly added in North America and Oceania ultimately playing over 60 shows between all locations.

Their first tour was so successful they also came out with a live concert DVD in May of 2012 and by August it had sold over a million copies!  For a boy band’s first tour these numbers, their demand, and their fan base really set them apart from the competition.  Along with talent and passion, the boys of One Direction were all cute and began stealing the hearts of millions around the globe.

It only got better from there.

The boys of One Direction produced album after album, went on tour after tour and as of 2015 – their reign over music still has not come to an end.

Take Me Home – released in 2012 was a very successful sophomore album for One Direction. The tracks matured as did their voices making this album showcase them in a bit of a different light. The depth of this album was under appreciated by people who didn’t listen to them more than on the radio. The well known songs from the album are great, but songs like ‘They Don’t Know About Us’ and ‘Over Again’ didn’t get much mainstream attention, and they should have. The album was the fourth best selling album of 2013, and again debuted number 1 on the US chart making One Direction the only act since Danity Kane to have both of their albums debut at number 1 on Billboard 200 chart!

Midnight Memories – released in 2013 set a new image for One Direction. The boys no longer looked like cherub faced 16 year olds, nor did they sound like them. The lyrics took a deeper look into young adulthood, not just the fun free aspects of life but the parts that make us who we are. Midnight Memories received mixed reviews, some saying it was too grown up for their target audience, others saying the songs were too brooding, but whatever the point of view was; they were being talked about! Midnight Memories became the fastest selling album in the UK since Michael Buble’s ‘Christmas’ in 2011 and in America on Billboard 200 it ruled the chart again, making One Direction the only act to debut 3 records at number 1!

Four – released in 2014 was ironically the last album with all five members of One Direction with the departure of Zayn Malik in March of 2015. Following in the steps of Midnight Memories, Four showed a mature sound and look to the boys. With bangers like No Control, Stockholm Syndrome, Fireproof, Fools Gold, and 18…we were shown a deep look into the boys hearts and souls. I fell in love with this album, it’s a go to for me still today. The spirit of this album was lovely, but only two singles were released from it, three if you include the fan release of No Control. It went to number one in the UK, and in the US, making One Direction the only musical act to debut all 4 albums at number 1.

In the five years they’ve been together we’ve seen One Direction do more than just grow musically.  They’ve shown us that they’re humanitarians and people who care a lot about others as they’ve traveled to poverty stricken countries to raise money for children, set up events to help dreams of sick kids come true, donated time, money, and items to raise money for countless charities and headed Action 1D; a global awareness campaign that asked fans to tell global leaders what kind of world we wanted to live in – and to be part of the voice that made it happen.  These are just a few of the major things they’ve done to make our world better – they have been seen tweeting numerous accounts out to their followers and showing us all people in need that we’ve been able to help too.  The boys have invited us by donation, word of mouth, and by asking for well wishes to help improve the lives of people too; they didn’t just do it alone, they made it something we could do alongside them.

So Harry, Louis, Liam, and Niall have given us four amazing albums with their fifth, Made In The AM, coming out on November 13th of this year, and four wonderful tours to match – but more than that – the boys have given the fans a sense of friendship, love, and for some people; a second chance at happiness. 

When you ask fans what they love most about the boys, our boys, the answers are simple, sweet, and showcase that the One Direction fandom is truly more of a family than a fan base.  Most people will tell you that they love the boys talent, their music, and their stage presence; but what’s truly adored?  Their hearts, their kindness, their compassion, and the way they stand up for each other and for us.  Louis, Harry, Niall, and Liam are praised for who they are as performers, but also for who they are as individuals, who they are on the inside.

Harry Styles has given a voice to fans who felt like they didn’t have one.  He’s spoken out for social justice and motivated other people to do the same thing.  He’s jumped on stage waving rainbow flags and dancing like a ballerina and saying that all love is welcome at One Direction concerts.  He’s taken the time to remind fans to be who they are, and to do so unapologetically.  Harry has given all of us hope that who we are is good enough.  Harry has been the gentle voice at the end of the day that tells us to keep going, even when it’s hard.

Louis Tomlinson has provided a safe place for fans to land.  He’s used his outspoken voice and heart in defense of fans who were ridiculed, who were made fun of for being who they were, liking what they liked.  Louis has given with his kindness but also with his wallet – donating his time, money, and gifts to countless charities that aimed to help improve the lives of people around him.  People were allowed to live out their dreams because of who Louis is, simply because he exists and his heart tells him to give.  Louis has been home for the fans, a protector.

Liam Payne has held it all together.  He’s been the glue of the fandom and of the band.  He’s used his caring nature to remind the boys of who they were when it got to be too much and he’s gone above and beyond to keep the fans involved and feeling like part of a friendship with them.  Liam has said he feels like it’s his job to make people smile – and he does a good job of it.  You don’t leave a One Direction concert without having smiled or laughed at something Liam said or did, he brings livelihood back to the band when spirits are down and he brightens the mood of everyone when things are already good.  Liam is the warm smile of an old friend when you need it most.

Niall Horan has been the light at the end of the tunnel.  He’s been the constant motivation to keep trying, keep pushing, and keep doing it all with a smile.  He’s shown us his support for his band mates as individuals and as a whole for the last 5 years in numerous ways.  He’s also shown his support for the fans too and given us glimpses of himself in the process.  He is devoted to sports, hanging out with his old friends, and keeping the spirit of who he is as a person in tact.  Niall has shown how important it is to keep yourself grounded no matter what happens to you – and he’s always made us feel like we have a place with the boys, wether we’re 13 or 30.  Niall has been the constant motivator that tells us we’re always doing a good job, even if we don’t feel like it.

Louis and Harry as a pair have given some people reason to believe that true love exists.  Larry is and has always been a heavily debated topic in the One Direction fandom but the main thing that people who don’t believe in them as a couple miss; is what it’s brought to fans who look at them with love.  Louis and Harry; they’ve given people the desire to want to find real, life changing, over the moon type of love.  At the end of the day, your money sits in your wallet, your job closes it’s doors, and your outer persona is put away, but what remains with you – is love.  Fans who believe in the love between Louis and Harry are some of the most open and beautiful people I’ve ever had the pleasure of getting to know.  Fans who believe in Larry believe that love conquers all, that love stands the test of time, and that love wins; always.

As a band – One Direction have given us love.  They’ve made sure that no matter what they achieve, they thank us for it.  They’ve given us a safe place to express ourselves, they’ve been more than band to us; they’ve been friends.  They’ve given us friends, the boys have been the cause of people meeting for the first time and becoming family, falling in love, finding your soul mates as friends or romantically.  One Direction as a band has given us memories we’ll keep for a lifetime, they’ve given us a feel good attitude about who we are and what life has to offer, and they’ve given us themselves as well as each other.  It’s been the greatest gift of all.

At the end of October OTRA officially comes to an end – bringing with it the inevitable empty feeling we’ll all house in the pit of our stomachs knowing that their return date isn’t something that we have a countdown for yet.  The boys do have a few extra shows/concerts and appearances scheduled, but with that comes the promise of their break too.  For the first time in five years, we aren’t waiting for a tour announcement or to see the boys in and out of a recording studio.  For some fans, this is nerve-wracking, for some fans this is the signal of what could be the end (even though the boys have promised us it’s not, and I believe them), but for all fans, this is a time for us to truly give back to the boys in the enormous ways they’ve given to us.

It’s a time to let them enjoy a little bit of time away from the spotlight and all that surrounds it.

For all the highs the boys have experienced, there have been lows to match.  Harry was labeled a womanizer at the age of 16, Zayn was labeled a drug addicted bad boy – to the point where he couldn’t handle the stress, pressure, and negativity any longer and actually left the band, Louis was the second whipping boy – the one who didn’t really belong and didn’t have much to bring or showcase.  Liam and Niall were bores, not surrounded by scandal but not worthy of recognition either.  These are all lies that the public were sold about them.  Most of us have a hard time dealing with people calling us one name, bullying us just a little bit. Our boys, they’ve been drug to hell and back by the media, by people who called themselves “fans” (wrongfully so) and by people who didn’t even give them a chance at all.

It’s been a beautiful journey, but it’s also been an exhausting one, it’s been one that’s hurt the boys; we’ve seen the way that hurt manifested in them in different ways, but it was there.

Liam, Niall, Louis, and Harry deserve time to just be who they are; to explore what they have, and to enjoy their friends and family again.  This break, for them, is a time to rest and then come back even stronger.  It’s a time for them to just enjoy waking up and taking a shower in their own homes; laying on their sofa all day if they want, and playing footie out in their large back yard until the sun sets.  It’s a time to bake and drink pints and laugh until their stomachs hurt.  It’s a time for them to find each other again too; in recent interviews when asked what they’re planning on doing in their spare time, it’s been said twice that they’re going on a lads holiday.  These are four boys who care about each other and want to be strong for us, and in being strong for us, they have to be strong themselves.

It’s been an incredible five years with these boys; it’s been an adventure, a journey, it’s been a lifestyle, and if the first five years we got with them were that great – just imagine what the next five will be like after they return.

Louis, Harry, Liam, Niall – we love you to the moon and back, we are thankful for all you’ve done for us and for others, and we have beautiful memories, videos, photos, and messages from you all to last us, to remind us, to fuel us while you’re taking your well deserved time off.  We may already be anxiously awaiting your return, but we also know how vital this time for you four will be.

We only hope you’re as excited as we are to begin this journey again once you’re ready to get back to the lights, the stage, the studio, and the tours.  We promise to be here, and hopefully be better within ourselves too.

 

 

Written by Ashley

Writer, coffee drinker, mother.