Turn back the clock to July 2010 and auditions for the UK’s X Factor were underway. Five young boys from various parts of the UK and Ireland had entered the competition with nothing else but a passion for singing and raw talent. Their names were Niall (from Westmeath (Ireland), Zayn (from Bradford), Liam (from Wolverhampton), Harry (from Cheshire) and Louis (from Doncaster) and they had all entered as solo artists. Arriving to their individual auditions, they were given the task of impressing the judges. And they did. But just not quite how they imagined.
It was during the Bootcamp round of the competition that Simon Cowell, Nicole Scherzinger and Louis Walsh had to give the boys the bad news that they hadn’t made it through as solo artists. They were devastated, but they were offered a suggestion. The judges wanted them to form a group; to learn to sing as a five-piece rather than individuals. The boys jumped at the chance and One Direction was born.
Zayn says, “I didn’t think I would ever want to be in a group. But when I was there and it was happening, and I knew the lads a bit, there was no way I was going to say ‘no’. We’ve all got quite different sounding voices and our own individual style, so we can play up to that and play to each of our strengths.“
Louis adds with sincerity, “To start off with it was difficult because we all had our egos and we wanted to get ourselves across in the group. It was tough. Now, we’re literally like five best friends.”
Fast forward four months and the boys were impressing an average of 16 million viewers with their performances each weekend. They sang world-famous tracks like Kim Wilde’s Kids In America, Kelly Clarkson’s My Life Would Suck Without You and Snow Patrol’s Chasing Cars – they confidence rocketed and the country kept on voting for them to stay in the competition. It was clear the UK were falling in love with the band.
In the final, the boys were given the opportunity to perform with multi-million-selling artist Robbie Williams. He backed their bid to win and wished the awe-struck boys the best.
On 12 December 2010, One Direction were crowned the third place winners of The X Factor 2010 – and although they hadn’t come first, it was clear they had already attracted a huge fan base. In the run up to their win, hundreds of girls would wait outside the TV studios in London just to get a glimpse of their favourite new group and they were already receiving sack-loads of fan mail. There was no way this new group could be ignored.
The boys, however, kept their feet on the ground. They hadn’t won the series and didn’t know if they could find the support to keep making music – although by now, disbanding was not an option, they had come so far and were great friends.
Louis explains, “We came from nothing, and had no experience as a group at all. By the time we came to the end of the show, we were a completely different group. We worked so hard, and achieved so much. We also became really close mates – we’re just all so grateful that we got along so well from the start.”
“I couldn’t be happier for One Direction, it is an incredible achievement. They deserve it. They have the best fans in the world.” – The final word from Simon Cowell.