It’s hard to believe it was way back in the year 2010 that One Direction first debuted on the boy-band scene during an appearance (and third place finish) on “The X Factor UK.” From there, the five boys that made up 1D, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne, became household names and the group became one of the biggest bands in the world.
They seemingly had it all: catchy pop hits, documentaries made about their rise to fame, close friendships with one another, dreamy model-like looks, British/Irish accents that could make anyone in their right mind swoon, and even their own dolls. It all just seems a bit too good to be true, right? Sure, 1D was the biggest boy band in the world, and one that Directioners stanned like never before (ok, fine, stan — present tense), but it’s hard to ignore that the popular musical act was teeming with blatant red flags and controversies that surrounded their mega-success and fame.
Most of the behind-the-scenes drama came out when one particular member quit. Then, One Direction took an indefinite hiatus. Now, after taking a retrospective look at the lads’ journey to stardom and break-up aftermath, we found plenty of other things that (we hate to say it) made 1D super shady.
Was One Direction badly mismanaged?
If you’re a dedicated Directioner, then you’ve probably been well-versed in discussing your hatred for the boys’ former team at Modest! Management. You’ve likely tweeted “1D deserved better than Modest” more times than we can count, but if this all feels foreign to you: allow us to explain. For years, fans have alleged that Modest! mistreated their precious 1D boys and put an incredible amount of stress and workload on the band.
Although no member of 1D has explicitly spoken out against Modest!, former member Zayn Malik later got candid in his memoir about the stress, anxiety, and eating disorder he dealt with while in the band. In addition, Liam Payne did an interview with “This Morning” in 2019, where he also discussed the environment, explaining how the band had “two weeks to write” albums on the road, since management already sold tickets for the next tour. Needless to say, this put an exorbitant level of pressure on the guys.
In a rundown of why fans seem to dislike Modest! so much, Distractify pointed out a few other instances in which some of the guys dropped public hints about the personal strain they endured while performing in 1D. The outlet also points out that although the group remains on the roster for Modest!, the only member who kept working with the firm is Niall Horan, who actually has positively backed the management company and even launched his own golf management company under their umbrella.
Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson didn't get along at first
As one could expect, as soon as the group was put together on “The X Factor UK” stage, the five different boys had to suddenly get to know four other personalities and figure out how to work together. From the outside looking in, it seemed like these British (and Irish) lads were the best of friends. It turns out, the relationships between the One Direction guys weren’t that great. During an interview on Hits Radio in 2019, Liam Payne dished, “When we were in the band it kind of felt like, because [Louis Tomlinson] was the oldest and because I’d been singing for quite a bit of time, we both got put in a weird position. He was wanting to be the leader and I was doing my thing and wanted to. So at first we didn’t get on at all. We absolutely hated each other, it was so funny.”
Fans can remember back in the band’s heyday that each member had their own signature style. Well, because of these tiffs and unresolved issues, their emotions bled into figuring out their outfits. Speaking on the “Capital Breakfast” radio show, Payne referred to Tommo as a “proper diva” in regards to his look, which included a striped shirt and suspenders. Apparently, a small tiff arose when Payne attempted to wear stripes and was summarily shot down by Tomlinson.
Zayn Malik repeatedly shaded his former bandmates
We first saw cracks in One Direction’s facade when Zayn Malik exited the group. Ever since his departure, Malik’s been outspoken about his grievances with the band. Chatting with British Vogue, he said, “I’m able to look on it as something that was an amazing experience, which I was never even able to say until just recently. Because of so much other bullsh*t that was going on. … I think back to the performances towards the end, when we were in stadiums, I wasn’t really ever able to enjoy the experience. The machine had gone too fast. … I guess that kind of progression to any mind — but especially when you’re 17, 18 — it kind of affects you a little bit.”
Prior to that, Malik told Billboard that his relationships with the boys weren’t as strong as we thought. He also said 1D’s pop music wasn’t his preferred genre in a separate interview with Fader. Need more? Speaking with GQ, Malik revealed that his “vision didn’t necessarily always go with what was going on within the band.”
All of this Monday morning quarterbacking of his own career definitely makes us look at Malik getting cold feet during “The X Factor UK’s” bootcamp in a whole new light. He’s even gotten into several Twitter spats with his former bandmates or dissed their tracks, further revealing the likes of “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Kiss You,” and “One Thing” aren’t the types of songs he enjoyed playing.
Niall Horan shaded hits from the group's first album
Fans go nuts whenever the guys reminisce about their experience in the band, their old hits, or even tease potential reunions, which made Niall Horan’s 2018 appearance on BBC Radio 1 more exciting. While chatting with host Nick Grimshaw on air, Horan played a “remember the lyrics” quiz, where he was tested on the lyrics to the songs from the band, his solo record, and his “X Factor UK” audition. After nailing the lyrics from a song on his “Flicker” record, Grimshaw tested the singer on his knowledge of “Taken” from the group’s first album. After Horan revealed he had no clue what the correct lyrics were, the radio DJ revealed that Seventeen Magazine had ranked this track last out of all of 1D’s songs in its definitive list. To our shock, Horan agreed with Grimmy and 17 Mag and even noted that some of their earlier hits were “dodgy enough.”
That wasn’t the first or last time that Horan’s openly shaded 1D tracks. Speaking with Official Charts in 2020, the singer revealed he thought “Na Na Na,” from the group’s first album, was the band’s worst song. He said, “There’s a few from that first album that are howlers. It still got to Number 1 though!” Maybe we have selective memory and romanticized our Directioner years, but those songs weren’t that bad, though… were they?
Remember all the times One Direction was called out for plagiarism?
For any musician, that dreaded “P” word can make or break careers. Unfortunately, the 1D boys have heard it several times throughout the group’s tenure. There have been several claims that a few of their music videos and singles rip off tracks by different artists. After their “You and I” video dropped, 1D was accused of plagiarizing Australian band Clubfoot’s video for “Everything You Wanted,” according to the BBC. Clubfoot’s video was produced by Oh Yeah Wow, which initially claimed the One Direction video “[regurgitated] our original concept” without the “creepy facial morph stuff.”
Additionally, other internet critics have claimed that both the group’s “Best Song Ever” and “Steal My Girl” copy melodies from songs from two bands, The Who and New Found Glory, according to BBC and Billboard. As these sources point out, 1D’s chords and orchestrations seemingly replicate the sounds from these previously released songs. In fact, New Found Glory’s Chad Gilbert tweeted that “Steal My Girl” used his group’s piano section and jokingly? asked for “a cut” of the song’s revenue.
Many of the 1D members' experiences in the group were quite toxic
Not only did some of the guys dislike one another during the band’s heyday, but Zayn Malik and Liam Payne have been outspoken about the toll this rock-and-roll lifestyle took on them as young teens suddenly thrust in the spotlight. During an interview with Men’s Health Australia, Payne said, “When you’re doing hundreds and hundreds of [concerts] and it’s the same 22 songs at the same time every single day, even if you’re not happy, you’ve got to go out there.” The former boy-bander then likened his at-times feigned excitement to being “underneath [a] Disney costume,” and even admitted to being “pissed quite a lot of the time.” Although he did admit there were lots of good times, Payne also revealed, “There were certain parts of it where it just got a little bit toxic.” While there were definitely good and bad sides of being in this highly controlled arena performing music, Payne also told the Evening Standard that being in this environment for so many years day-in-day-out “nearly killed him.”
Considering the levels of toxicity the 1D members dealt with, it’s no wonder that Malik left the group early and that the band eventually split up to work on solo projects their own ways.
Were One Direction staff members fired for sleeping with the band?
Despite management claims that One Direction was made of sunshine and rainbows, band insiders feel quite differently. In fact, the band’s stylist, Lou Teasdale, dished to the “Sex, Lies And DM Slides” podcast about some scandalous road rules she remembered when she traveled with the band. Teasdale explained that employees were well aware that if they slept with a band member, they could be fired. Even so, Teasdale admitted that “everyone ends up falling out or sleeping together or both.” She explained that many assistants would traipse in and out of the boys’ beds and become their new girlfriends for a short while. She noted that these ladies would always be in the guys’ hotel rooms, and revealed, “Some people would come in, like assistants and stuff … and they would really think that it was love, and obviously it’s not, and it’s the quickest way to lose your job. Then they’ll have a new girlfriend, and she’s there and they don’t want you in the room.”
Since most of these twenty-somethings were single, it’s easy to understand that they’d want to act like normal guys and date. Plus, with all the female attention thrown at them, we imagine it’s hard to resist. But, even the notion that the boys allegedly slept with people who worked for them would certainly seem like evidence of a toxic environment.
The 1D guys weren't always interested in meeting fans
For most of the band’s tenure, the guys have been grateful for fan support. However, we have the receipts that they haven’t always been interested in the fan pandemonium that came along with this job. The guys have been outspoken that, while they’ve been to some incredible destinations, they felt trapped as if in a prison. Niall Horan explained on the “People, Just People” podcast, “I struggled with the idea of, ‘Why won’t you just let us out? We just want to go for a walk, you know? … You’re our age. Just let us out. We just want to walk down the street.'”
Liam Payne also felt similarly, tweeting in 2015, “One time id like to be able to see New York without being followed chased and cornered like an animal until other people get what they want.” Responses to his post yielded every reaction from heartfelt apologies to fans calling him mean.
Additionally, in 2012, Horan shouted, “Remember the last time I walked down here? You shower of c**ts” at a group of fans who were getting close to him, according to Digital Spy. While the fans filming him appeared unbothered at the expletive, Horan did tweet out an apology a few hours later which was well-received by his international fangirls.
While the internal battles the guys dealt with surely contributed to this behavior, it’s still jarring for fans and being treated as such is a turn-off.
The famous flare-up between former president Donald Trump and One Direction
Getting kicked out of hotels is peak edgy band behavior, right? While appearing on “The Late Late Show with James Corden”, Niall Horan surprised fans when he revealed the band has been kicked out of a couple of hotels and had an interesting encounter at one owned by former president Trump. When the hotelier-turned-president asked the boys to take a picture with his lawyer’s daughter, the boys refused. In the “Late Late Show” interview, Horan claimed the guys needed to focus on their Madison Square Garden gig and were not doing meet-and-greets on that trip. In retaliation, Trump barred the boys from using his hotel’s garage door to avoid crowds of fans and paparazzi. After 1D refused to comply, the boys left the building.
This wasn’t the first time 1D got into a scuffle with another celebrity. In 2013, the guys had a Twitter feud with fellow British boy band, The Wanted. According to the Mirror, the Twitter battle included everything from Zayn calling Max George “chlamydia boy,” Louis mocking The Wanted’s concert performance, and both Liam’s and Louis’ girlfriends chimed in, too. Louis is no stranger to a Twitter feud, as he once got into it with producer Naughty Boy, according to Metro UK. During this feud, Naughty Boy (who was working on Zayn’s solo music) went back-and-forth with Tommo about the quality of 1D’s songs.
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