Wednesday 26 June 2019

Why all boybands end up in One Direction

Self-respecting boybands always split, says Kirsty Blake Knox

one Direction
one Direction
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Deep breaths Directioners, deep breaths.

Teen Twitter broke into hysteria on Sunday night when One Direction hiatus rumours started to swirl.

Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction.
Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson of One Direction.

Memes, musings and manic declarations of love were frantically posted online. Solo projects? Is this the beginning of the end? A break is different from a split? Right? RIGHT?

But was anyone really surprised by the news? 1D's "break" - and the inevitable outpouring of grief from fans - is on target with the well-worn boy band trajectory.

In 1995, when Robbie Williams quit Take That phone lines were set up to help distraught fans.

And when Wham! announced their split in 1986, the duo held an eight-hour concert in Wembley to help fans cope with the trauma.

The intensity of boy band fandom is unparalleled; these carefully constructed groups tap into teenage girls' unbridled pheromones.

Each member seems to embody a different but equally desirable trait of the "ideal guy". There's the sensitive one, the reckless one, the creative one and the one with nice hair.

1D knew their audience well and reeled them in with sickly sweet lyrics like: "Should I put coffee and granola on a tray in bed, and wake you up with all the words that I still haven't said?", and "I can't be no superman but for you I'd be superhuman". Cue collective swoon.

Many hardcore Directioners prefer to refer of themselves as a "family" rather than a "fandom".

One Direction fans are in denial
One Direction fans are in denial

And when that familial foundation started to crack, teenage dreams began to crumble.

As far as boy bands go, One Direction fared pretty well. Half a decade together? That's pretty impressive. Most don't make it to a third album.

It's worth remembering that when 1D bounded onto our screens in 2010 we badly needed them. There was a gaping boy band-shaped hole in the pop universe. Indie acts like Maroon 5 and Good Charlotte made the perfectly packaged aesthetic of 98 Degrees and NSync seem contrived.

But towards the end of the 2010s, we couldn't get enough of cheeky chappie stars like Harry Styles and Olly Murs singing pop songs about stolen kisses and staying Up All Night.

X Factor boss, Simon Cowell has always been good at spotting a marketing opportunity - let's not forget this is the man responsible for the Tellytubbies' hit single Eh Oh. He struck gold when Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson united on his talent show.

Since then we've watched the band evolve from young lads with tangled teeth, to grown men dealing with broken engagements and unplanned pregnancies.

One Direction won eight Teen Choice awards this year
One Direction won eight Teen Choice awards this year

During that time 1D have navigated their way through the rites of passage all boy band members must traverse.

These include sex scandals, pregnancies, estranged family members selling stories to the press, and high-profile spats with other pop stars.

1D did all of the above with aplomb. But the most worn boy band rite of passage was undoubtedly when one of the members turns his back on his boy band brethren to forge his own solo career.

I'm looking at you Robbie Williams, Justin Timberlake and last and definitely least - Brian McFadden.

We all knew the writing was on the wall when Zayn Malik emerged from a recording studio last autumn sporting a Laurence Llewelyn Bowen-inspired hairdo.

If there is one thing we learnt from 2007 Britney Spears it's that pop stars' hairstyles reveal a lot about their state of mind. Then Zayn quit and 1D was shaken to the core.

It was only a matter of time before a hiatus was called. Now, Harry Styles is planning a Hollywood career, Louis wants to become a judge on The X Factor, Niall Horan is writing songs and Liam Payne wants to become a house DJ called 'Big Payno'.

But as sure as boy bands break down and apart, they usually reunite. Just look at Backstreet Boys, Boyzone and Take That.

Reunions are big business. So much so that ITV2 patented a series all about them (The Big Reunion) designed to tap into dormant fan hysteria and our love of nostalgia. No doubt then that 1D will soon rise from the ashes as a super group on an ITV and Simon Cowell produced reunion show. Watch this space.

Irish Independent

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