Back in 2010, five boys with dreams of becoming solo stars were put together to form a boyband on the UK edition of The X Factor. Fast-forward to 2014 and they've sold out the biggest arenas in the world. All four of their albums have debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard chart, making them the only group to ever do so. This year, One Direction, are "On The Road Again" (as their fourth tour is cunningly named), and ready to play Hong Kong for the first time!
Only five months after ending their third tour, "Where We Are", Niall, Harry, Louis, Zayn and Liam kicked off the first show for their fourth, early February in Sydney, Australia. Playing fresh tunes from their latest album, Four, the boys will be making their debut performance in many other Asian locations including Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
But what is it about One Direction that makes them stand out from other groups that have come out in the last couple of years, or the massive boybands of the 1990s? Here are four reasons:
1. Their ever-evolving style
Four has a distinct 80s indie-rock vibe, leaving behind the bouncing synthesisers that created the bubblegum pop of their earlier albums. The five have become more involved in the writing process, and this album is a distillation of their many personal musical influences, which include Robbie Williams, Coldplay, and the Rolling Stones. Their track Fireproof, for instance, showcases soulful harmonies over a Fleetwood Mac-inspired riff.
Despite the progression from cheese to folk/rock/indie-tinged pop, there are consistent elements across the albums. "We haven't tried to go too different with it," Zayn said in an interview at the iHeartRadio Music Festival last year. Instead of going off a completely new tangent, the lads have kept essentials such as their belt-worthy "na na na" hooks, which appeared in What Makes You Beautiful and Kiss You, and is on Four's lead single, Steal My Girl.
Producer Julian Bunetta, who has worked with the quintet since their second album, Take Me Home, called Four a "window into both the ups and the downs" of the guys' lives: falling in love, the heartbreak that may or may not follow, the frivolity of being young and reckless - themes that capture the essence of adolescence. Add a funky melody and catchy beats to the mix and it's obvious why their music resonates well with teens worldwide.
2. Using social media to connect with fans
Whatever's changed since their X Factor days, one thing that's remained constant is the support from loyal Directioners. Since their debut as a band, the guys have used social media to stay in touch with their fans.
With a single tweet, crazy hashtags such as #LiamTakeASelfieWithTheBoys and #LouisTomlinsonForMissUniverse can dominate Twitter's trending topics in minutes.
Ben Winston, a producer for the 1D documentary This Is Us, said in an interview for Billboard that "social media has helped them almost skip the queue and conquer the world a bit quicker" - in some countries, fan bases appear almost spontaneously based purely on online exposure, without the band ever visiting.
3. Their chemistry
The boys have an undeniable chemistry, which many find surprising considering how they were thrown together. In an interview with Seventeen magazine, Louis talked about how the boys are the brothers he never had.
"The best part about being in a band is just having each other." He confessed that, with hindsight he wouldn't have made it as a solo artist, knowing now how intense the life is.
"To have people who go through the same thing as you" helps get through the tough life fame has to offer, Liam added.
4. The greater good
In 2013, as part of their involvement with the British charity organisation, Comic Relief, the five-piece went on an eye-opening trip to Ghana where they met some local children at a paediatric clinic.
During their visit, the boys took the opportunity to film a music video for their cover of Blondie's One Way or Another, the official single of Red Nose Day 2013. But instead of spending huge amounts of money producing it, they filmed it all themselves, and donated the money they saved to the charity. With the help of their fans, the boys managed to raise a whopping £2 million for the charity!
From their first proper gig at the tiny 1,392-seat Watford Colosseum to selling out 90,000 seats in Wembley Stadium: if that's what the first five years have brought, we can only imagine what the future has in store for the boyband that lost The X Factor but won the world.
Of course Young Post has tickets to see One Direction live in Hong Kong on March 18! Click the link to find out more.