So, How Was Your Decade is a series in which the decade’s most innovative musicians answer our questionnaire about the music, culture and memorable moments that shaped their decade. We’ll be rolling these pieces out throughout December.
Louis Tomlinson had just become an adult when the decade began and was quickly thrust into the spotlight with one of the biggest bands of this pop era. In July 2010, Tomlinson had been grouped up with four other boys who had auditioned as solo artists on The X-Factor — Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Zayn Malik — for a new group called One Direction. The band became a hit while on the reality competition series and would go on to release five albums and headline some of the biggest stadiums in the world before announcing their hiatus in 2016. Around the same time, he became a first-time father to son Freddie Reign.
But success like that can be bittersweet: the band’s touring and album release schedule had been nonstop and strenuous, and their hiatus came a year after a nasty separation with Malik. Tomlinson lost his mother, who had been battling leukemia, the same month he released his debut solo single “Just Hold On” with Steve Aoki. His younger sister also died earlier this year.
Tomlinson is starting off the Twenties with a fresh start: he’s releasing his debut solo album Walls in January and embarking on a tour soon after. Singles like “Kill My Mind” and “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” are informed by his guitar-driven pop-rock taste, which also influenced much of writing for One Direction where he often served as the principal songwriter. As he prepares for the next phase, Tomlinson looks back on his favorite music and moments of the 2010s.
My favorite album of the 2010s was: Catfish and the Bottlemen’s The Ride. Love the big guitars and big chorus sound.
My favorite song of the 2010s was: Liam Gallagher’s “Once.” Incredible concept and great lyrics to go with it.
The artist who had the best decade was: One Direction
The craziest thing that happened to me in the 2010s was: Going from sixth form at a school in Doncaster to getting put in a band and moving to London.
My least favorite trend in music this decade was: Lack of guitars on pop radio.
The TV show I couldn’t stop streaming in the 2010s was: Peaky Blinders
The best new slang term of the decade was: Not a fan of all these modern abbreviations
The best live show I saw in the 2010s was: Libertines’ set at Glastonbury 2015. It was my first time at the festival and a very memorable night.
The misstep I learned the most from in the 2010s was: Not to spend all my energy on chasing radio
The best book I read this decade was: Phil Knight’s Shoe Dogg. I don’t read as much as I should, but this is a very inspiring read.
The best outfit I wore this decade was: Can I answer that …
The most “2010s” moment of the 2010s was: The cringy “dab”
My biggest hope for the 2020s is: England to win the World Cup