Containing footage from the beginning of their career until now, One Direction said good-bye to fans with a reflective video for “History” in 2016. For the boy band, however, it all began in 2010, when the future bandmates auditioned separately on the U.K. singing competition The X Factor, later being assembled into a group by Simon Cowell. Take a look back at their audition clips and time on the show above.
From the beginning, the boys were instant hits with the show’s female audience. All were teens at the time of their 2010 audition, ranging from 16-year-old Harry Styles to 19-year-old Louis Tomlinson.
Styles and Niall Horan came the closest to not making it through. Auditioning with Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely,” the group’s youngest member didn’t win over judge Louis Walsh. Horan’s cover of Ne-Yo’s “So Sick” was rejected by Cheryl Cole, but it was Katy Perry — who was later referenced in a lyric on their song “Up All Night” — who broke the tie and let the band’s sole Irish member through.
Zayn Malik, who quit One Direction in early 2015, and Louis Tomlinson were both let through unanimously in 2010 thanks to their takes on Mario’s “Let Me Love You” and Plain White T’s’ “Hey There Delilah,” respectively. The biggest success story, however, was Liam Payne, who had auditioned for The X Factor two years prior, making it all the way to Cowell’s Barbados home before being let go and told to return in a couple years. He shocked the judges with his growth, going big band and booming with a cover of the Fifties standard “Cry Me a River.”
The rest of the clip shows a condensed version of the band’s time on the show. Cowell referred to them as “the most exciting pop band in the country today” – which was long before One Direction became an international success. Even then, the group was a fan favorite with a huge online following, which helped launch One Direction far beyond the reality series after coming in third place on the show.