When it comes to successful and international pop acts, they don’t get much more famous or widespread than One Direction.
For anyone who doesn’t know, One Direction is an English-Irish boy band that was active between 2010 and 2016.
Although they have since split up, their influence has been felt the world over and all of the individual members remain famous and are still releasing music. The line up of One Direction included Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomnlinson and Zayn Malik, all of whom have their own successful singles and music careers today.
But what some people might not know is that each and every member of One Direction got their start by performing on The X Factor.
As many people probably know, The X Factor is a music competition show which was designed to replace Pop Idol.
Both shows were masterminded by British television producer and personality Simon Cowell, who Americans most likely know best from American Idol. While the show has largely been replaced by America’s Got Talent in the United States, The X Factor remains an active franchise in many other countries. In any event, all five members of One Direction auditioned on The X Factor UK in 2010, and not all of their performances went equally well.
The first of these was Irish singer Niall Horan.
When he auditioned on the show, Horan was only 16 years old.
Though Horan now has a successful musical career and a hit single with the song “Slow Hands,” in 2010 he was just a blond-haired teenager with dreams of stardom.
Before he steps out onstage, he compares himself to Justin Bieber and says he wants to be world-famous. For his song, he decided to perform “So Sick” by Ne-Yo, a soulful R&B song… that turns out to be just a little bit beyond his abilities.
As he finishes up the song, the judges decide to tell him for.
As it starts, Katy Perry says she likes Horan and that he has charisma, but that he needs work.
Next up is Simon Cowell, who lays into him:
“I think you’re unprepared, I think you came with the wrong song, you’re not as prepared as you thought you were, but I still like.”
Still, despite everyone giving him some pretty harsh criticism, he ends up getting the three yeses he needs to proceed! After that, Liam Payne does an inspired, swing-style cover of “Cry Me a River” by Ella Fitzgerald.
Though he’d auditioned for the judges before and been eliminated, this performance is strong enough to get him through again.
Still, the audition most people are probably interested in is that of breakout star Harry Styles.
When Styles first auditioned on the show, he was also just 16 years old.
As he steps out, Styles says he’s been waiting to audition for years but was too young until recently. Next, he announces that he’ll be singing “Isn’t She Lovely” by Stevie Wonder—and he even does it a cappella!
Although there are a few shaky parts of the song, Styles’ voice is clearly very strong for such a young man—and it has plenty of soul as well. Still, the judges are more or less in agreement that he has a beautiful voice but it needs experience.
For his part, Simon tells Styles that his performance was “rubbish!”
After that, though, Simon goes on to say that with some vocal coaching, he could be very good.
Despite all this, Styles gets the yeses he needs to continue! It definitely seems like Styles took Simon up on his advice to get vocal coaching—after all, he’s one of the most recognizable pop stars and music figures on the scene today!
As these auditions show, there’s a lot more to musical success, most of the time, than just a seed of natural talent. For all these performers, that initial spark had to be refined and disciplined to become what it is today. Still, it’s fun to go back to see where this worldwide pop phenomenon started!
Congratulations to all these boys on making their musical dreams come true in the end! Check out all of the auditions in the clip below:
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