In 2010 a phenomenon occurred in the United Kingdom on a popular TV show called X Factor even though, at first, no one realized it. When five boys from Britain named Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan all auditioned for the show at the same time, no one had a clue about the massive boy band that was coming. In fact, none of the boys actually made it on their own during the actual taping of the show.
The judges on the show however, including Simon Cowell, asked all five of them to come back as a group and, even though they didn’t win, they’ve gone on to become far and away the most successful act from that year’s show, or for that matter, from any of the X Factor shows that have ever aired
After X Factor ended, Simon Cowell signed the newly formed, and newly named, band to his record label Syco for £2 million. It’s widely held that band member Harry came up with the name One Direction and, since then, the only direction that they have gone is up.
The group began recording their first album in January 2011 and, in February, embarked on the X Factor Live Tour that was a part of their contractual agreement with the show. During that time they performed for approximately 500,000 people all around the United Kingdom.
It was much later that year, in September 2011, when their first single was released. “What Makes You Beautiful” was an instant hit and shot up to the top of the UK charts in record time. Speaking of records, it also broke sales records for presales for Sony Music Entertainment and their follow-up tracks, “One Thing” and also “Gotta Be You” were both top 10 hits.
Soon after that the boys came to North America and signed a deal with Columbia Records.
In February 2012 they released What Makes You Beautiful and it became the highest charting debut single for a British band in the United States since all the way back in 1998, debuting on the Billboard hot 100 charts at number 28. After peaking at number four it’s since sold more than 3 million units in the United States and is still going.
Their First album, Up All Night, was released globally at the beginning of 2012 and became a huge hit and chart topper. Not only that but One Direction make history on the Billboard 200 as the first British band ever to top the US chart with their debut album.