Why Did One Direction Break Up?

Although there may have been several contributing factors, the breakup of One Direction began with the abrupt departure of a 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 projects.

The hiatus was expected to 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 from 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”.


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 was 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 its 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.

Going Solo

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 record label, backed by Sony, and has released several singles over the years. In 2016, he became a father to a baby boy, Freddie, with partner Briana Jungwirth.

Liam Payne has also since released several singles and welcomed a 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, and two albums and performing at the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, Harry Styles made his acting debut in 2017 in the war drama Dunkirk.

Years Apart

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.

What Was One Direction’s First Song?

One Direction is one of the most popular pop boy bands in the world, and now that they are on an indefinite hiatus that started in 2016, it’s a good time to look back at their beginnings. What was the first song that One Direction released?

One Direction’s cover of Alphaville’s “Forever Young” is their first unofficial single, which would have been released had they won their season of the show. Their debut single outside of The X Factor was “What Makes You Beautiful,” the lead single of their first studio album.

What Makes You Beautiful

After they came third on The X Factor in 2010, they began recording their first album in both the United Kingdom and the United States, working with many different writers and producers. Their debut album, Up All Night, was the fastest-selling album in the UK in 2011 and was the number one album on the United States Billboard 200.

The album was an international success, topping the charts of 16 different countries, and their first official song “What Makes You Beautiful” went quadruple platinum in the United States, peaking at number four on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the UK Singles Chart.

Their unofficial first song together was their cover of “Forever Young,” a song by Alphaville, which they performed on The X Factor. It would have only been released if they had one, so it now remains their unofficial single.

While What Makes You Beautiful may have been their first official song together, a lot of their music has special meaning for their fans. This fan tweeted her appreciation of the song “Story of My Life,” saying, “This song is so special to me. It’s the first song I listened to from one direction. This is the song which made me a directioner.”

Another fan questioned which One Direction song people would use as their first dance song at their wedding, saying that she would use the song “If I Could Fly” in this Tweet.

One Direction was beloved throughout their time together, leaving fans heartbroken when they announced their indefinite hiatus in 2016, though thankful that they would continue as solo artists.

Check out the YouTube video below to watch the music video of One Direction’s first official song, “What Makes You Beautiful.”

Back to the Beginning

Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson all auditioned as solo singing acts on the seventh series of The X Factor in 2010, a show created by the world-famous television personality and entertainment manager, Simon Cowell, in 2004.

They were all between the ages of 16 and 19 at the time they were on the show, and though they didn’t go on in the boot camp stage of the competition for the “Boys” category, they were put together to form a boy band and joined the “Groups” category.

Cowell and Nicole Scherzinger, a guest judge on the show, both claimed that they came up with the idea of putting them together. In an interview in 2013, Cowell said, “It was my idea [to put you guys together]… I just said, ‘Why don’t we put these guys into a group?’ It took ten minutes!”

That ten-minute decision started a lifetime career for the five singers, as after finishing third on the show, they signed with Cowell to Syco Records and began recording, touring, and winning the hearts of millions of fans.

Malik left the band in 2015, and they released their fifth and last album as a group of four, Made in the A.M. Their last song as a band before they went on an indefinite hiatus and their final single from the album was “History,” released on November 6th, 2015.