It’s been over ten years since One Direction was formed on the UK’s The X Factor and rapidly became a global sensation.
Over a span of five years, the group that initially comprised Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson produced five albums and embarked on four world tours. Selling over 70 million records worldwide and picking up over 200 awards, they confirmed their position as one of the bestselling boy bands of all time.
In 2016, Forbes ranked the group’s members as the second highest-grossing celebrities of that year, although things had dramatically changed for One Direction the year before.
In March 2015, Malik announced that he would be leaving the group for good. Horan, Payne, Styles, and Tomlinson carried on, but not for long. The remaining four announced the group’s hiatus in Oct. 2015, and One Direction hasn’t reformed since. When the group’s touring company folded in 2018, it confirmed fans’ suspicions that the hiatus was more permanent than it sounded, especially when some members became more vocal about their struggles with tours and management.
But the members of One Direction haven’t disappeared. Since the split, each member has remained in the public eye, and hopes of a reunion have remained alive. Let’s take a look at what each of the lads has been up to since they decided to go their separate ways.
Niall Horan’s debut album, Flicker, was released in Oct. 2017 through Neon Haze Music and Capitol Records, producing five singles. Flicker debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, selling an impressive 152,000 units.
Horan’s second album, Heartbreak Weather, was released in March 2020. His album tour was canceled due to the global Covid-19 pandemic, and Horan’s next single was a duet with Anne-Marie. “Our Song” subsequently made the top 10 in the UK and top 20 in the Irish charts.
Outside of music, Horan has expanded on his sporting interest in the past half-decade. That included founding Modest! Golf Management, a successful golf talent company. Currently, Horan splits his time between Los Angeles and London.
Liam Payne was another former Directioner to release a debut album in 2017. Signed to Republic Records in North America, Liam released “Strip That Down” as the lead single in May 2017, making number ten on the US Billboard Hot 100. His debut album, LP1, arrived in December.
Payne and singer Cheryl, also a former X Factor judge, had a son together in March 2017. But since 2019, Payne’s been in a more on than off relationship with Maya Henry. After selling his properties in the US and UK, Payne currently lives in Buckinghamshire, England.
In 2021, he recorded the official song for the animated movie Ron’s Gone Wrong and even lent his voice to the cast.
Payne has been one of the most vocal members to address the potential for a One Direction reunion. He’s even said it will be “sooner rather than later.”
Louis Tomlinson released his debut album, Walls, in January 2020. In the run-up to its release, Tomlinson returned to where his musical megastardom began. He was a winning judge on the fifteenth series of The X Factor when he mentored Dalton Harris to victory.
In July 2020, Tomlinson parted ways with Syco Music and began work on his new album. In May 2021, he confirmed that the as-yet-untitled album would be released globally through BMG.
On the personal front, Tomlinson experienced highs and lows since leaving One Direction. In January 2016, he welcomed a baby son with Briana Jungwirth. In December that year, he lost his mother, Johannah Deakin, to leukemia. In March 2019, his younger sister, Félicité Tomlinson, died from an accidental overdose at just 18 years old.
Tomlinson was one of the most active former Directioners when it came to live music during the pandemic. His digital concert Live From London sold over 160,000 tickets in December 2020, breaking records as the most live-streamed concert for a male solo artist that year. Proceeds from the gig went to charities and tour crew who had struggled financially during the pandemic.
Tomlinson next returned to live music when he curated and performed at the Away From Home Festival on Aug. 30, 2021.
Zayn Malik left One Direction in March 2015 and was the first to release a solo album in 2017 through RCA Records. Lead single “Pillowtalk” had already debuted at number 1 in the UK Singles Chart in Jan. 2016, when he became the first UK artist to reach number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 with a debut charting single. His second album Icarus Falls was released in 2018.
Following the release of Malik’s third album, Nobody is Listening, in Jan. 2021, he released a collection of three new songs in September under the title Yellow Tape. The sound of those tracks indicated a move to more traditional hip-hop.
Malik’s recent news has been dominated by the conclusion of his six-year relationship with Gigi Hadid. The pair experienced some well-publicized ups and downs before welcoming a daughter in September 2020. But just over a year later, Malik and Hadid’s relationship ended after Malik entered a no-contest plea to four charges of harassment against Hadid’s mom, Yolanda. Malik received 36 days probation in Oct. 2021 along with a requirement to complete education programs.
Following One Direction’s split, Harry Styles has become one of the world’s biggest music stars. Columbia Records released his self-titled debut album in 2017, which hit number one in the UK and the US charts. That same year, he wowed audiences with a revelatory screen debut in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. His career has followed musical and acting paths ever since.
Styles’ second album, Fine Line, was released in 2020, which none other than Stevie Nicks compared to Fleetwood Mac’s classic Rumours. Almost immediately, Fine Line broke into Rolling Stones’ 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Despite his tour plans being delayed in 2020, Styles continued to pick up award nominations and wins throughout the pandemic.
In 2021, he won Best Pop Solo Performance at the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards and a second Brit Award for British Single of the Year with “Watermelon Sugar.” He also picked up the Ivor Novello Award for Most Performed Work for “Adore You.”
On the acting front, Styles will next be seen as Jack in the psychological thriller Don’t Worry Darling. Directed by Styles’ current partner Olivia Wilde, the film is scheduled for release in Sept. 2022. Having begun filming the romantic drama My Policeman in April 2021, it’s expected to be Styles’ second film release next year.
Warning! Marvel spoiler incoming! Rumors that Marvel Studios had tapped Styles for a significant role have been circling for some time. His future in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was confirmed in an Eternals post-credits scene in which he appears as Eros, brother of Thanos. It’s a major career move that some think will put the brakes on any One Direction reunion.
Styles also made the fashion headlines over the past year after gracing the cover of Vogue in a dress in Dec. 2020, continuing his promotion of non-gender-specific fashion. He is largely considered One Direction’s most talented and popular former member, and we can only hope that as his star continues to rise, he’ll consider a reunion tour with the band at some point in the future.