Is One Direction getting back together? It’s a question uber-fans of the British boy band created by The X Factor in 2010 have been demanding to know the answer to for just over four years now. Yet, sudden rather sudden developments point to the idea it may soon be happening.
The probability of a reunion is not as easy to calculate as one might think. It is well documented that after Zayn Malik became the first to go solo (he left the band in March 2015, released an album, then canceled his tour because of his experience with anxiety) One Direction was never quite the same.
Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne continued to record and perform together until January 2016. Initially announced as a “hiatus,” it soon became clear that the band had permanently split. Each member of the group signed to separate labels to embark on their own solo careers. It worked out better for some than for others.
In the four years since their split, the disparate members of One Direction have occasionally gone on the record to reveal just how much they barely got along, and how their relationships strained over time. Once seemingly thick as thieves, it turns out most of the band eventually grew to hate each other. Some beef will probably never be squashed, and a shady Saturday Night Live opening monologue from Styles in November 2019 made it all the more clear that your favorite British boy band from the 2010s likely has no intention of reuniting any time soon.
But since the beginning of the year, at least one band member has hinted at working on a sort of reunion between at least some of the five musicians. Payne told The Sun, “We’ve got a 10-year anniversary coming up so we’ve all been speaking together a lot over the last few weeks which has been really nice,” in April, suggesting they’ve all communicated digitally while in quarantine.
And as their 10-year reunion looms, fans think they’ve spotted a key: Styles, Horan, Tomlinson, and Payne have each re-followed Malik on Twitter, though he has not returned the favor.
Fans also think there might be a song registered to all five guys, titled “Five,” and slated for release on October 5, 2020. There is a Genius page dedicated to the song allegedly produced by Jamie Scott, Julian Bunetta, and John Ryan, but the veracity of the track’s actual existence is still unresolved.
One Direction is right on time for some sort of reunion, at least if you compare their creative timeline to the boy bands that came before them.
Take That disbanded in 1996 and reunited nine years later, sans Robbie Williams. (He later re-joined in 2010, then left again in 2014 to take care of his children and family instead of going on tour.)
Roughly a decade after the Backstreet Boys formed, the group went on a two-year hiatus from 2002 to 2004. They were back together, for the most part, by spring 2005 and continue to record and tour.
*NSYNC also went on a temporary “hiatus” in 2002, and by 2007 it was confirmed that they had broken up. While they’ve never had an official reunion with all original members, the band did receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2018. A year later, with Justin Timberlake notably absent, the four remaining members of the group—JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick—joined Ariana Grande during her Coachella performance of “Break Up With You Girlfriend, I’m Bored.” It wouldn’t be a surprise if only four out of five One Direction members followed suit with a ten-year almost-reunion performance on July 23.
But what that performance would look like is up in the air. It’s likely that they would have to get together digitally if they decide to reunite, since the coronavirus pandemic has caused the cancellation of numerous live performances and festivals through the fall.