The five individual members of One Direction originally all applied to appear on the television show X-Factor. When they did not make it through in the ‘boys’ category two of the judges, Nicole Scherzinger (of Pussycat Dolls fame) and Simon Cowell, had the inspired idea of putting them together as a group. Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan could have never understood, back in those first few weeks, just how big they would be! Even in the show, they did not fare particularly, finishing third in the contest. However, the power of both social media and pocket money saw the boys shooting up the charts as they acquired an enormous fan base, one that is predominantly made up of teenage girls, but also encompasses older listeners and male ones too! With three albums under their belt, the group is still enjoying a meteoric success, topping the charts all over the world and gathering music industry awards by the handful!
10 Back for You (Take Me Home)
This is a fast-paced song with soulful lyrics; a combination that should not really work well – but it does! This song is deceptively simple: the promise of a lover’s return twinned with a memorable and catchy beat, which makes it great listening and easy to sing along to!
9 Kiss You (Take Me Home)
One Direction - Kiss You (Official)
A bouncy and upbeat song Kiss You’s video met with mixed reviews from the band as well as the general public, with Niall declaring it to be ‘pure stupidity’ while Zayn stated it to be ‘bigger than anything we’ve done before’. The video pays homage to some of the greatest ‘boy bands’ the world has ever seen, from the Beach Boys to the Beatles, and also manages a nod to the legend that was Elvis too!
8 Live While We’re Young (Take Me Home)
One Direction - Live While We're Young
A powerful anthem to youth ‘Live While We’re Young’ urges listeners to live in the moment and seize opportunities as they present themselves. The powerful beat drives the melody and the chorus is catchy and easy to bellow out at full volume! A great and energetic song.
7 Up All Night (Up All Night)
The title song of One Direction’s first ever album needed to be pretty special and the boys picked a perfect iconic song featuring a steady thumping beat against an addictive melody and the opportunity to showcase the boys’ voices as a group as well as with individual highlights. The lyrics speak clearly to their youth and new-found independence and entry into adulthood, which makes the song appealing to anyone who has ever longed to just do whatever they want to do – as we all have at some stage in our lives!
6 One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks) (Produced for Sports Relief)
One Direction - One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)
One Direction made the video for this song themselves, as they visited Africa, seeing the people who would benefit from some of the money they were raising. They picked a feel-good, bouncy medley, blending Teenage Kicks with One Way or Another into a seamless and catchy tune, despite the slightly dark shadow that can be inferred from the somewhat ‘stalker-friendly’ lyrics of the latter! Despite the track being leaked onto the Internet before its official release, it went on to sell 113,000 copies in its first week alone.
5 One Thing (Up All Night)
One Direction - One Thing
One of the songs that saw One Direction gain a huge following, One Thing is a beautifully melodic number, with the almost trademark catchy beat teamed with easy to learn and sing along lyrics! Detractors of the band claim that the song is disturbingly close to Backstreet Boys iconic number ‘I Want It That Way’, but other critics had nothing but praise for the song which was said to be ‘bouncy’, ‘fun’ and ‘upbeat’.
4 Story of My Life (Midnight Memories)
One Direction - Story of My Life
Definitely something of a departure from the young, feel-good songs of their early days, One Direction show their new maturity with this song while retaining all the positives of their early music. This song places less emphasis on the beat, and there is a strong guitar presence, which teamed with the more reflective lyrics shows a deeper understanding of emotions than the band has shown before.
3 Best Song Ever (Midnight Memories)
One Direction - Best Song Ever
While the beginning of this song can come off as rather embarrassing and cringe-making, with two full minutes of overacting and hamming it up (with a rather disturbing peek behind the scenes in the offices of Hollywood movie producers!) until you realise that the bad actors are actually the lads themselves! Either way as soon as the music starts any doubts are instantly dispelled as they launch smoothly into a catchy song that is full of the style and verve that became their trademark in their earlier days. The fact that the video shows the group trashing an office may disturb older fans, but younger ones adore the band’s rebelliousness!
2 Midnight Memories (Midnight Memories)
One Direction - Midnight Memories
A true coming of age track, Midnight Memories must be watched as much as listened to, showing the boys wreaking havoc in London, getting a kebab (presumably towards the end of a hectic and fun-packed night), stealing a police patrol boat and even managing a dig at Harry’s tendency to have older girlfriends! Once you have listened to the song, be prepared to be singing and humming it for hours, if not days, afterwards!
1 What Makes You Beautiful (Up All Night)
One Direction - What Makes You Beautiful (Official Video)
What Makes You Beautiful was the band’s choice as their debut single from the moment they had finished recording the song. They wanted something that was fun without being cheesy and felt that this track perfectly encapsulated the image and mood that they wanted to project. The public agreed and the song shot up to number one in several countries, even making it to number four on the USA’s Hot 100 Billboard charts – the US being a notoriously tough audience for UK singers and groups. The song is still hugely popular today, and has won a host of awards as well as going platinum (several times over in some cases) in Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Italy and Japan, to name just a few.