Boy bands will be boys.
First, Zayn Malik up and quits One Direction shortly before this summer’s massive U.S. tour. Now, Louis Tomlinson, the oldest member of One Direction, gets his lady friend pregnant. Which direction is 1D headed?
“The splits are starting to show already. It’s the start of the end of them as a group,” says Max Page, editor in chief of Popdust.com, a pop culture website.
Page wasn’t dissing 1D. In fact, she praised the British pop group for outlasting the usual expiration date for boy bands, which is typically four years. One Direction was big in Britain in 2010 and they are still going strong in the States, where they are in the midst of a stadium tour.
How have they beaten the boy-band odds?
“I think it really is social media,” says Falen Lambert, morning personality on Twin Cities pop station KDWB.
One Direction may not have scored as many radio hits as ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys, stars of the last boy-band craze 15 years ago, but they have been able to connect with fans — 24 million followers on Twitter, 38 million likes on Facebook — to promote songs, videos and other products.
“They have a whole social media team and also each of the boys tweets and Instagrams on their own,” Page pointed out. “They’re very good at engaging their fans.”
And, of course, there’s the obvious — they’re cute. All of them, Lambert insists, not just two or three guys like some other boy bands we won’t mention.
In a rarity for boy bands, One Direction also seems to make controversy work to its advantage.
While some moms may have thought 1D was so done when Louis got his gal pal preggers, Lambert thinks the fact that they “don’t have a squeaky-clean image maybe helps them age well with their fans as they’re getting older. They cuss, they grab each other’s junk onstage.”
Yes, boy bands will be boys. After all, they are ages 21 to 23.
“And their fan base is not just tween girls anymore,” Page points out. So fans and band will grow up together, so to speak.
Moreover, don’t underestimate the machine behind 1D.
It started with Simon Cowell, who built One Direction from contestants on England’s “X Factor” TV talent contest. Both Lambert and Page credit Cowell for 1D being No. 1.
”He might wear terrible clothes and have a Botox face but he really does know music,” says Page, a Brit. “For a manufactured boy band, their music is actually good. It’s not just bubblegum pop. As they’re growing older, they’re bringing in other musical talents to help write, like Ed Sheeran and Kelly Clarkson.”
The music may be improving, but the end of One Direction is in sight. Every Directioner (that’s what the fans are called) knows that it’s only a matter of time before Harry Styles launches a solo career, right?
“It’ll be a year or two before Harry goes off and does a solo album,” Lambert speculates.
Page predicts a more specific time line to say bye bye bye. “After this tour, I can see them doing one more album and then going their separate ways,” she said.
Which, of course, leads to the inevitable reunion tour, right?
Said Page: “The global reunion tour will be in 10 years.”
You can Tweet it now: #1DReunion2025!
ABOUT THE BAND
A look at the One Direction forebears, and a few predictions:
Born: Feb. 1, 1994.
Boy band fore-bro: Justin Timberlake of ‘N Sync.
Trait: Cheeky and chatty with a big personality and “it” quality.
In 5 years: He’ll be a major celebrity who’s more famous than whatever his work is.
Born: Aug. 29, 1993.
Boy band fore-bro: Michael Nesmith of the Monkees.
Trait: Serious, sensitive and largely invisible.
In 5 years: He’ll be a music producer.
Born: Sept. 13, 1993.
Boy band fore-bro: Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys.
Trait: Cute, shy and a bit of a goody-goody.
In 5 years: He’ll try to be the Michael Bublé of Ireland.
Born: Dec. 24, 1991.
Boy band fore-bro: Donnie Wahlberg of New Kids on the Block.
Trait: A free spirit with a smirk and a sense of adventure.
In 5 years: He’ll be hosting a TV game show.
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