One Direction returned to Twitter for the first time in two years on Wednesday, July 22, posting ahead of its 10-year anniversary: “Tomorrow! You and me got a whole lot of history #10YearsOf1D,” the band wrote. The tweet swiftly accumulated nearly 1 million re-tweets in 14 hours and more than 1.7 million likes and spurred chatter all over the internet as to whether the group was planning to reunite.
What’s the significance of July 23? It marks the moment on “The X Factor” when Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson progressed in the U.K. competition as a group. Between that airdate in 2010 and the group’s ultimate retirement in 2015, the guys did make “a whole lot of history,” from releasing five albums, touring the world four times and leaving a treasure trove of undeniable records. Their individual accomplishments since 1D’s open-ended hiatus have also been many and include successful solo careers and expanding into other areas of entertainment, like acting.
In April 2020, Payne seemed to hint that the guys were planning something, telling The Sun, “We’ve got a ten-year anniversary coming up so we’ve all been speaking together a lot over the last few weeks which has been really nice.”
Fans may have to keep waiting for that fateful reunion day, but until then, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate One Direction on this 10th anniversary milestone.
1. Those “X Factor” covers and made-for-TV moves
Even though the members of One Direction were, in a sense, curated by Simon Cowell, the guys’ performances on the hit British show were among the best of the format both then and now. From Natalie Imbruglia’s “Torn” to ’80s classics like “Kids in America” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” to the practically uncoverable Beatles (“All You Need Is Love”) and Elton John (“Your Song”), the guys not only embraced their roles as serious singers, but learned to dance as well. While ten years ago, they were still baby-faced innocents, their charm shone through the fluffy hair and wide-eyes. Watch for yourself.
2. Their albums are winners
In the pre-streaming era, the band ruled album sales and downloads. One Direction’s 2011 debut “Up All Night” was a chart-topper in 16 countries and yielded the hit song “What Makes You Beautiful” on its way to selling two million copies in the U.S., according to the RIAA. The follow-up, “Take Me Home,” sold over 540,000 copies in the U.S. just in its first week — good for instant Gold certification which would later turn into double-platinum. That album’s single, “Live While We’re Young,” recorded the highest first-week sales for a song from a non-U.S. artist. Their third album “Midnight Memories” made One Direction the first band in history to have their first three albums top the U.S. charts. Two more albums followed, “Four” and “Made in the A.M.”
3. Laugh-out-loud early videos never get old
Even though the band performed its last performance in December 2015, fans have thankfully been left with a canon of videos from 1D’s early days — and yes, they are still very funny. Fan favorites include the pregnancy prank on Nickelodeon, where Tomlinson and a pregnant production team member pull one over on the rest of the band, and “1D Video Diary,” from over eight years ago, which features iconic skits written by the members. They were teenagers, alright, in the most laugh-out-loud way.
4. In a word: Harry
Harry Styles was a standout from the get-go and ever since stepping off the “X-Factor” stage, he’s won the respect of the music community, the fashion world and the film industry. His two critically-acclaimed albums, 2017’s “Harry Styles” and 2019’s “Fine Line,” have yielded several hit singles, with “Adore You” and “Watermelon Sugar” currently all over U.S. radio. Style-wise, he’s unmatched. While his band members dressed in trainers and hoodies, he performed in Burberry shirts, skinny jeans and boots. In 2017, Styles cut off his famous curls for a role as a British soldier in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk” but returned in floral and pastels and incredibly stacked heels for a look that would make Davis Bowie proud. The 26-year-old is also an active supporter of the LGBTQ community, having waved rainbow flags since his One Direction days, and during Pride month in 2018 when he performed solo in New York City and Mexico City.
5. Successful solo careers
One Direction is the rare “boy band” to have seen multiple successful solo careers emerge since the group’s pause. Styles and Horan reign supreme in terms of commercial success, with the latter releasing the hits “Slow Hands” and “Too Much to Ask” in 2017, and Malik, who split from the group in March 2015, had the No. 1 song “Pillowtalk” in 2016 followed in short order by “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” with Taylor Swift. Payne and Tomlinson haven’t fared as well out the gate, with the former’s debut, “LP1,” skewered by critics. Tomlinson has released several songs as collaborations with the likes of Steve Aoki and Bebe Rexha, and the album “Walls” earlier this year. He recently parted ways with Syco Music.
6. 1D in 3-D
When the concert film “One Direction: This Is Us” premiered in 2013, few expected the box office success that it would become. The 3-D picture ended up making some $68 million worldwide to become, at the time, one of the highest-grossing theatrical runs for a concert film. And it’s no wonder: the group was at the height of its post-“X Factor” career and still intact as a five-man outfit. It was followed a year later with a sequel, “Where We Are – The Concert Film.”
7. Good guys who do good
Both individually and as a group, the guys in 1D have given much of themselves to philanthropic causes, including multiple charities for British citizens in need, including Comic Relief, Children in Need and the Pride of Britain Awards. Horan has been active in causes related to autism, Payne and Styles with cancer research and the guys participated in Band Aid 30 to reimagine one of the most famous charity singles of all-time — “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” — to raise money to battle the Ebola crisis in West Africa. In addition, the group launched “Action 1D” in 2015 to look at major global issues.
8. Proven hitmakers
One Direction’s track record when it came to hit songs helped launch or elevate careers of some of today’s top songwriters. Most notably: Ed Sheeran, who appears on 1D’s first two albums as a co-writer, and Savan Kotecha, who co-wrote “What Makes You Beautiful” and “Live While You’re Young” and has since had credits on Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” “No Tears Left to Cry,” “God Is a Woman” and “Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’,” Katy Perry’s “Rise,” The Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” and Ellie Goulding’s “Love Me like You Do,” among other songs.
9. Their fans are “army” trailblazers
One Direction’s devoted global fanbase predates BTS’ formidable ARMY by just a couple of years, but Directioners were trailblazers of their time when it came to having a vocal devoted presence on the internet and especially on social media. It’s no wonder 1D today boasts more than 30 million followers on Twitter, where they’ve posted twice in as many years. But the Directioners have held strong in both celebrating their favorite boy band and also fostering friendships among themselves. Earlier this month, fans came together on Twitter to create a “One Direction July calendar, so [they] can all clown together” as they prepare for the upcoming anniversary.
10. Always keeping us guessing
It didn’t take long for a single tweet to ignite a globe-trotting rumor suggesting that a One Direction reunion was imminent. Coronavirus pandemic challenges being a reality of today, a virtual one would likely have to do to which no Directioner is complaining.