Eleanor Bogart-Stuart culture editor
I suppose it was inevitable. It was only March of 2016 when the world was shook to the core by the news that Zayn Malik would be leaving One Direction to make his own album. And now, in May of 2017, all five members have made new material and taken steps toward furthering their own solo careers. At this point, members splitting off to create their own music is simply old hat. It seems that, finally, the band might truly be finished. One Direction is no longer going in any direction at all.
To be fair, there has been no official announcement that the internationally beloved boy-band has broken up, but there have been plenty of signs that this may be the case.
In January 2016, the group announced a year long hiatus that has now clearly extended past its expected ending date. After Zayn came out with the hit “Pillowtalk” and his album “Mind of Mine”, Niall Horan was the second to go solo with the single “The Town” which also turned into an instant hit. After Niall came Louis Tomlison’s collaboration with Steve Aoki, and then Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times”. Styles’ album, in fact, came out yesterday. Liam Payne is the only one who has not yet released his own solo song, but he’s not far behind. His first single, “Strip That Down” comes out on May 19.
With so much quick success for all the solo projects the boys have embarked on, it’s hard to see why they would have incentive to return to the lifestyle they used to have. As solo artists, they’re allowed to make their own decisions without having to fit an oppressive management’s idea of what a boyband member should be acting, sounding or singing like. They’re able to freely express themselves.
“There was just a general conception that the management already had of what they want for the band, and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling,” Malik said to Entertainment Weekly when he first left the group.
Being part of One Direction meant signing up for a rigorous schedule of worldwide touring and press conferences. That kind of stress can take a serious mental and physical toll– Malik himself left the group due to severe stress levels.
Some members have handled solo success more gracefully than others. Fans were furious with Malik’s explanation of his split from the band.
“It just felt right on that day. I woke up on that morning and was like, ‘I need to go home. I just need to be me now, because I’ve had enough”, a nonchalant and unsatisfying answer from someone who had had such a dramatic departure,” Malik told Fader magazine.
Styles, on the other hand, has been praised for his dedication and respect of his teenage fans and the other members of the band.
“How can you say young girls don’t get it? They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going. Teenage-girl fans – they don’t lie. If they like you, they’re there. They don’t act ‘too cool.’ They like you, and they tell you. Which is sick,” Styles said to Rolling Stone.
At least fans don’t have to worry about never seeing the boys again. Although their futures are very unclear, especially their future together, one thing is certain: they love to create music. Although perhaps not as a group, no matter what, the fans will always be able to see and support them doing what they love.