ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US
From the Beginning
In the summer of 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson entered Britain's biggest talent show "The X Factor," as talented individual artists. At the boot camp stage of the competition X Factor judge Simon Cowell offered the guys the opportunity to stay in the competition as a group.
"I saw five solo artists who were five solo stars, but would be stronger in a group, it was that simple," says Cowell, a producer on ONE DIRECTION: THIS IS US. "I liked each of them individually, and something made me think they would work really well as a group."
Calling themselves One Direction, they were immediate sensations. A group of talented and cheeky guys who immediately captured a nation of young girls. They didn't look or sound pre-packaged, they just exuded talent, friendship and charisma both on and off stage.
Says Cowell, "Right from the get-go, if I'd be honest ... I was very much of the attitude, 'I'm not gonna tell you what to do. You can probably tell me what to do,' you know? 'You've got to sort it out for yourself, 'cause I think you're smart enough.' And that's always been the way it's worked with these boys. I had this just amazing confidence in them."
Fans responded in their thousands, flooding social media, waiting for hours outside TV studios, and voting the boys through each round of the competition through to the grand final. Though they came in third overall on the show -- narrowly missing the record deal awarded the first prize winner -- the boys knew instinctively that this was not the last the world would see of One Direction.
That instinct to stay together instantly paid off. The band signed to their "X Factor" mentor Cowell's record label, Syco Records and quickly got to work recording their debut album whilst performing across the UK and Ireland on the X Factor Live Tour. A book chronicling their experience on the road -- Forever Young -- went straight to number 1 on The Times Best Seller List. The album, meanwhile, was coming together with a stellar team of writers and producers, from Steve Mac (Westlife, Leona Lewis) to Rami Yacoub (Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys) and Red One (Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez).
The band's debut album, Up All Night, released in October 2011, was an instant smash; a feat forecast by the fact that their first single, What Makes You Beautiful, had already become the biggest single pre-order in Sony Music's history. In the United States, the boys sought North American success with a string of appearances and performances that not only turned What Makes You Beautiful into an iTunes hit, but led Up All Night to a feat never before achieved by a British band: entering the Billboard chart at number one with their debut record. With three MTV Video Music Awards, a Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Award (for Favorite UK artist), and three MTV Europe Music Awards (including Best New Act and Best UK & Ireland Act), it truly seemed there was no stopping their rise to the top.
The band's sophomore album, Take Me Home turned 2012 into a banner year for the boys, hitting the top of pre-order charts in 50 countries. The album's first single, Live While We're Young, went straight to No. 1. All in all, Take Me Home topped the charts in 37 countries. The Take Me Home tour, which continued into 2013, was a global sellout, taking Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry, and Louis to Europe, North America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan.
In July, they released Best Song Ever, a track written specifically for the film. The fun and cheeky video for the song (Directed by Ben Winston) broke records on VEVO with 12.4 million views in one day, making it the most viewed debut video ever on the platform.
Cowell says, "What I've loved about working with the boys is that they haven't taken anything for granted, and they still appreciate and still are in awe of what's going on. They've survived, and they'll continue to survive because first of all, they're smart, and secondly they understand their audience and respect their fans. They've matured really, really quickly."
During the tour, though, the notion of a film came together, giving the boys a chance to conquer an entirely different medium ...
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