Has there been a boy band in this century as influential, ubiquitous and dynamic as One Direction? Not really, which why the heartthrobs deciding to put the group on pause became The Hiatus Heard ‘Round the World when it was announced in 2016.
While fans’ broken hearts might never fully mend, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne have eased the painful aftermath by each embarking on their solo music endeavors. As part of Billboard’s week-long celebration of the boy band, we’re scoping out what’s next for the 1D boys as they continue to pave the roads of their own directions.
The first one to bite the dust, Malik followed his compass away from the band in March 2015. He promptly proved he’d grown past his PG days in January 2016 with the release of “Pillowtalk,” his blatantly sexy debut single with an equally steamy music video to match. He’s kept up the “Bradford Bad Boy” persona in full force since then: Earlier this month, he deleted his entire Instagram feed and began sharing promotional clips for “Let Me,” his latest single and the third from his forthcoming second studio album. Aside from singles, Malik has given no more details on the upcoming set.
Horan’s folk-pop debut solo album Flicker debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 upon its release last October. Since then, he’s been signed to the celebrity division of Wilhelmina Models and embarked on his only solo tour, which has since wrapped. He also became the third 1D member to reach No. 1 on the Billboard Artist 100, following Malik and Styles.
Tomlinson initially veered towards the most EDM-influenced route of the bunch, enlisting the assistance of DJ Steve Aoki for his debut solo single, “Just Hold On” — though subsequent follow-ups “Back to You” and “Miss You” have been less beat-driven.
As for a full solo album, fans are still waiting. Tomlinson recently teased on Twitter that he was in the homestretch of crafting his LP, saying that it was “all [he’s] been working towards over the last two years.” He’s yet to hint at a release date or title. However, he told Billboard that “the album in general is just very honest and conversational.” Fans are growing increasingly eager to discover what he means by that.
Payne’s debut album is also yet to arrive. His bouncy, club-ready debut single “Strip That Down” — which featured Migos member Quavo and crashed the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 last year — hinted at a hip-hop inspired solo career, but he warned iHeart Radio listeners to not expect his first LP to hew to a single genre. “It’s more like my playlist album; my favorite playlist of songs that I have made over the past year,” Payne explained. “So, some slow jams, there’s a couple of dance songs on there, with some R&B stuff. So there’s a lot — it’s a lot of different stuff.”
Payne explored a Latin-tinged sound with his most recent (and danceable) single, the J Balvin-featuring “Familiar,” which dropped Apr. 20. Payne tweeted that Balvin would “have to teach some of [his] fans Spanish.”
Styles’ classic rock-styled self-titled debut peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, and made many critics’ 2017 year-end best-of lists, including Billboard‘s staff picks. He’s also proven he can hold his own on the big screen, making his feature-film debut last year with the Oscar-nominated Christopher Nolan war film Dunkirk. Meanwhile, Styles — perhaps the most politically outspoken of the group — has shown his support for the March For Our Lives movement as well as for LGBTQ rights, and one of his new songs, the recently live-debuted “Medicine,” has fans speculating about his possible bisexuality.
Styles is nearing the end of his massive world tour, but he’s has yet to give hints on LP 2 aside from performances “Medicine” and another unreleased single, “Anna.” Whatever comes next, we have high expectations.