One Direction’s got a whole lotta history — 10 years of it, to be exact.
From their early days as fledgling teen heart-throbs on the British ‘X Factor’ to their earth-shattering break-up in 2015, the world watched — and screamed and fainted — as Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson delivered hit after infectious hit with signature chemistry and charm.
In celebration of the their 10th anniversary, we compiled 10 of the British-Irish boy band’s most memorable musical moments, from beginning (‘What Makes You Beautiful’) to end (‘History’).
‘What Makes You Beautiful’
Every time we Directioners hear “What Makes You Beautiful,” we revert instantly to our giddy, lovestruck tween selves. I don’t make the rules. The band’s breakout single is a certified bubblegum bop. The perfectly manufactured lyrics strike every innocent tween’s fantasy. The chorus is catchy as hell. And don’t even get me started on the music video. They’re so freaking cute.
Speaking of iconic music videos, who among us on the Gen Z-millennial cusp does not immediately associate red double-deckers with the most adorable bus tour of London ever recorded? If ‘What Makes You Beautiful’ didn’t already make it abundantly clear, this equally joy-inducing follow-up proved One Direction definitely had that ‘One Thing.’
‘Gotta Be You’
Hello, teen Harry’s falsetto! Is it a little lazy to kick this chronological list off with the group’s first three singles? Maybe. But I don’t think it’s any secret that One Direction’s management team knew exactly what it was doing when it catapulted Styles, Malik, Payne, Horan and Tomlinson into superstardom. It worked.
Another single, another bop transparently engineered to make millions of fans scream and faint all over the world — paired with another ridiculously charming music video. It’s not rocket science, folks.
‘She’s Not Afraid’
This is a somewhat deep cut, plucked from relative obscurity as a bonus track for its infectious, fast-paced hook spotlighting Malik’s smooth vocals and riffs. ‘She’s Not Afraid’ might just be the catchiest 1D song of all — which is really saying something.
‘Story of My Life’
‘Story of My Life’ stood out among other, more heavily produced favourites from the album ‘Midnight Memories’ (see: ‘Best Song Ever’ and ‘Diana’) for its emotional lyrics and acoustic foundation. Plus, the heart-warming music video featuring the boys’ family photos left several fun Easter eggs for true Directioners to find.
‘Don’t Forget Where You Belong’
Particularly apt for its 10-year anniversary, ‘Don’t Forget Where You Belong’ reflects on how far the band has come while honouring where the group started. It also includes this comforting sentiment: “If you ever feel alone, don’t / You were never on your own.”
There’s a reason ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ was one of the only 1D songs to make the set list for Styles’ first solo tour. He co-wrote it, and you can feel his influence in the edgy lyrics and rocky vibe that also define some of his more recent work.
‘Once in a Lifetime’
With its gorgeous harmonies and beautifully simplistic lyrics, ‘Once in a Lifetime’ is easily one of 1D’s most underrated tracks.
Despite its especially repetitive chorus, ‘History’ is surprisingly layered. Positioned as one of the final songs on the band’s final album, it serves as a poignant goodbye from the boys to their devoted fans and, perhaps more significantly, to each other.