Although there may have been several contributing factors, the breakup of One Direction began with the abrupt departure of band member, Zayn Malik.
After 5 years of international fame and success the British boy band, One Direction (1D), announced their extended hiatus in August 2015. The group formed on the UK version of The X Factor in 2010 after auditioning as five solo artists, however, it was Zayn Malik who first decided to leave the band in early 2015. The remaining four members released one final album together, before pursuing their own projects.
It was expected that the hiatus would last 18 months, though as of 2020, the band remains separated. Many sources speculate that the band has split permanently as a result of the members growing apart over the years.
In his first official interview with the Fader after leaving the band, Zayn expressed how vastly different his musical tastes were to his fellow bandmates. The expectations of the band’s music style often put him at odds with the management, suggesting that the music 1D produced was fake and generic.
“As much as we were the biggest, most famous boy band in the world, it felt weird. We were told to be happy about something that we weren’t happy about,” he told the Fader.
Feeling disconnected from the band’s music, Zayn felt it was his time to step back from stardom in March 2015. Despite the news being a huge shock to fans, Zayn said in a statement, “I have to do what feels right in my heart”.
Watch the band responding to Zayn’s departure on The Late Late Show with James Cordon, below.
Leading up to his exit, Zayn’s personal life was often under intense scrutiny from the press, although he did not claim these were the specific reasons for his leaving.
Just days before his exit, Zayn was photographed hugging UK Love Island contestant, Lauren Richardson, in a nightclub in Thailand. Zayn was forced to publicly apologize on Twitter to his then-fiancée, Perrie Edwards.
Soon after, a girl he met whilst the band were on tour in Thailand, claimed that she had an affair with Zayn, which he strongly denied.
It is also thought that a rift occurred between Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson in the early years of One Direction, as well as rumors that the pair were secretly dating – a claim which they have both repeatedly denied.
After Zayn revealed that he was not close with the band nor it’s music, the other four members soon went their separate ways and faced tensions of their own.
Due to the rumors surrounding Harry and Louis’ close relationship, the pair have been forced to distance themselves publicly, which imminently led to their friendship drifting apart.
In 2016, Louis Tomlinson’s mom died and just days later, Louis performed his first solo release on the X Factor stage. When Zayn didn’t show up, it is thought that this caused further tensions within the band.
Ten years on from the formation of One Direction, the five members have moved on, both in their careers and personal lives.
Between 2016 and 2018, Zayn Malik released two solo R&B albums, as well as his Official Autobiography. In May 2020, he and Gigi Hadid announced that they are expecting their first child.
Louis Tomlinson has his own record label, backed by Sony, and has released several singles over the years. In 2016, he became a father to baby boy, Freddie, with partner Briana Jungwirth.
Liam Payne has also since released a number of singles and welcomed baby boy, Bear, in early 2017, with his then-partner Cheryl Cole. In 2019, he announced a partnership with fashion brand, HUGO.
Between 2017 and 2019, Irish member Niall Horan released two solo albums and went on tour in September 2018.
As well as releasing several solo singles, two albums and performing at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Harry Styles made his acting debut in 2017 in war drama Dunkirk.
From five solo auditions on a talent show to sold-out band tours worldwide, One Direction had shot to fame when they were still teenagers. With tensions surfacing in the early years and their later success as solo artists, it is not surprising that the band was in no rush to reunite.