The stage lights have dimmed around Louis, Harry, Niall, and Liam for the last time in the foreseeable future and if you haven’t been able to stop your tears from falling, you’re definitely not alone. As their time has finally come to sit down their microphones and walk off stage to a roar of applause from the grateful hearts of their most devoted fans; it only made sense that they’d end this part of their journey in the same place it began.
On July 23rd of 2010 – after being dismissed as individuals – Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Zayn Malik were officially formed as One Direction on The X-Factor stage.
The very first time we saw One Direction as a group was on The X-Factor stage; fans witnessed Liam, Niall, Harry, Louis, and Zayn celebrate their second chance at chasing their dreams just after they thought they’d lost the opportunity. It was a beautiful moment; one that will go down as the beginning of an era for One Direction and for the millions of fans they would grow to touch the lives of.
The world was set afire because of five boys who were given a chance.
Week after week fans grew to adore the five young, talented, and passionate members who made up One Direction; and week after week the boys progressed further through the competition before making it to the live rounds – being the first manufactured act in X-Factor history to get that far.
The songs that got One Direction through each week were Torn, Viva La Vida, My Life Would Suck Without You, Nobody Knows, Total Eclipse of the Heart, Kids In America, Something About the Way You Look Tonight, All You Need Is Love, Summer of 69, You Are So Beautiful, Only Girl (In The World), Chasing Cars, Your Song and Torn once more.
Liam, Niall, Zayn, Harry, and Louis surprisingly did not win The X-Factor; they came in third after singing – but as the stage lights dimmed for One Direction that night – the sun rose the next morning and the boys were already shot to music super stardom.
Everything in the next five years for One Direction was an unexpected blessing for the boys, their fans, and the friends and family they left behind at home after becoming overnight superstars.
There were world tours, films, books, albums, merchandise, and an entire online culture devoted to One Direction from 2010 and 2015. Even while the boys begin their break; the fans behind Niall, Liam, Harry, and Louis show no signs of stopping their love, support, and gratitude towards the boys who have given the so much. It’s a testament to how much these boys, as One Direction and as individuals, have impacted their fans. It’s a true example of how Louis, Harry, Liam and Niall have ‘made this feel like home’.
The last five years of One Direction’s rise to fame have seen both good times and bad – and the loss of a member – but it’s been an experience that not one fan, or member of the band, would trade for the world.
The last time fans saw One Direction as a five piece on The X-Factor was on December 14th of 2014 when they took the stage with Ronnie Wood to sing Where Do Broken Hearts Go. It wasn’t known then that Zayn wouldn’t ever return to The X-Factor as part of the group that he grew up with, but it’s a nice memory to have now – that he got to take the stage again – before he split ways with his bandmates in early 2015.
When the boys returned to take their final bow, for now, on The X-Factor stage; it seemed that there was no place more fitting. Fans were told, on social media, that there was a tear-filled A-lister goodbye planned for One Direction days before the finale. This message sent many fans of Harry, Louis, Niall, and Liam strolling down memory lane as they took time to reflect on the last five years that One Direction spent woven into their lives, far deeper than just by music.
Fans weren’t the only ones who took the time to give credit to the boys and the legacy they’ve built thus far.
Stars – and friends of the band – like James Corden, Danny DeVito, and David Beckham all had sweet ‘see you later’ messages that Louis, Harry, Liam, and Niall stood together, arms linked, and watched on stage.
Niall was all of us when the cameras flashed back to the boys and he started motioning around for someone to bring him a drink – it was truly an emotional almost three minutes of people showcasing just a fraction of how important One Direction has been to everyone.
Liam, Harry, Louis, and Niall sang Infinity and History before taking their final bow and making their way off stage – signifying the end of this chapter of their journey. During History a montage of photos through One Direction’s time together so far played and it reached out and touched your heart directly.
Fans of the boys immediately took to social media with the trend #ThisIsNotTheEndOfOneDirection – showing their continued support and dedication to a band that has promised time and time again, that they’d be back. It’s nice to reassure them that they’ll have a place to come back to once they’ve had time to rest.
One Direction’s fans have got to be the most emotional, strong, unique, and committed fan base that the world has ever seen. Even people who aren’t fans of One Direction have seen the power that comes from those who have supported Liam, Niall, Louis, and Harry from the beginning. The connection between One Direction and their fans has been like a friendship, a journey, a volume of a story that was written together. It’s beautiful, it’s inspiring, and a little bit magical how connected Louis, Harry, Liam, and Niall are to their fans; even the ones they’ve never met.
Not only is there an inexplainable connection between the boys and their fans; their fan base also created a sort of music sub-culture of people who were brought together by the boys and stayed together on their own accord; many One Direction fans have met their best friends because of the special way things exist when you become more than just a casual listener to the band.
This, among other reasons, is why the break for One Direction seems to be such a big deal. It’s the first time in five years that the boys have stopped for more than a few weeks at a time; it’s the first time in five years that fans aren’t waiting to buy tickets for their next tour; but more than that, it’s the first time in five years that fan’s don’t have the comfort of knowing they’ll find happiness in new interviews or live streaming concerts they’re too far away to attend with a group of people they’ve grown to love.
The old saying goes
If you love something, set it free.
There’s another part to that statement too, but it questions wether or not what you love ever comes back; and one thing One Direction fans don’t have to worry about – is that.
From the twitter promises, to the ones made in person, and the times all the boys, but Louis specifically has pinky promised fans that they’d return – there should be no doubt that this is not the end of One Direction. This is simply where pause is hit so reflection can happen, so well deserved rest can touch the boys for more than a couple hours at a time, and it’s the back yard at sunset that the boys can enjoy in the comfort of their own homes.
This is where the boys get the simple joy of just existing as normal young men for the first time in years. It’s where they can take time away from the spotlight, the PR, the magazines, the paps, and hopefully the stress that’s piled on top of their strong shoulders and take a deep breath at the end of the day with the people who have missed them deeply.
This is the time they kiss their mothers, fathers, siblings, and friends and catch up on the frames of life they’ve missed. This is where they get the chance to stop living through photographs, texts, and quick phone calls and instead get to enjoy home.
Thank you; Louis, Harry, Niall, and Liam for giving us such a beautiful last moment to enjoy with you – we’ll here through infinity.
This is not the end, this is not the end, we can make it…you know it, you know.