Life After One Direction: Ranking Their Solo Endeavours

It me, taking an (unexpected?) look at One Direction’s respective solo endeavours and ranking them from worst to best*. 
*i know it’s subjective but i’m definitely right and prepared to fight anyone who disagrees x


In January 2016, following the release of their fifth successful studio album Made In The A.M, One Direction announced their hiatus and chaos ensued. Just over a year and a half later however and we have solo material from all five members of the world’s biggest boyband (not up for debate – it’s fact). A year and a half really isn’t very long at all, but from 2011-2015 One Direction were well known for their habit of quickly churning out new music, with a new album released every single year that they were active for.

I was never a massive fan of One Direction at the time, 15 year old me very much loved to hate them for the sake of hating them, simply because they were popular. Yes. I was that kid. As I’ve gotten older however, I definitely stopped caring about music being such a colossal expression of my personality, I no longer consider ‘Pop’ to be a dirty word, and guilty pleasures are non-existent for me. I can confidently say that I now very openly appreciate One Direction’s discography in (almost) it’s entirety. So here I am ranking each of their respective solo endeavours from worst to best. I’ll admit, the top two do shift places every now and then depending on my mood – but the ranking below is generally the norm.

5. Louis Tomlinson

Soz Louis, as lovely as you are, someone had to take one for the team I guess. Louis’ X Factor audition was probably the worst too – it was dreadful, it really was, and I’m actually a bit shocked he even made it past the auditions. Horrible. ANYWAY. In December of last year however, Louis collaborated with Steve Aoki, and Just Hold On was the outcome. It was a bop admittedly, but ultimately a bit forgettable. Following this he released what (I guess?) we can consider his ‘proper’ official debut single Back To You feat. Bebe Rexha. The single precedes his debut album set for release on his own label Triple String, which is said to feature tracks inspired by bands from THE NORTH, like Oasis and Arctic Monkeys. Back To You is tolerable, inoffensive, but again forgettable, with a tempo that is actually just a bit odd. Also, I can’t help but feel it’s a questionable decision to have somebody else sing the first vocals on your debut solo single. But sure. You do you Lou.

4. Liam Payne

I truly cannot stress how much I loathe Strip That Down, it sounds like a recycled Shaggy track, and the only thing remotely current about it is the Quavo feature. Quavo is everywhere. Have you even got a song in the charts in 2017 if Quavo doesn’t feature on it??? It’s popular though, certainly on the radio anyway, and it’s irritatingly catchy, so he’s obviously doing something right, even if it just sounds so wrong. It’s only upon finding out that it was co-written by Ed Sheeran too when you realise how awful it actually is. With those kind of credits you sort of expect better. Though actually at the moment it seems Ed Sheeran’s fame far outweighs his actual talent. No tea no shade no pink lemonade – just facts. I couldn’t get over the fact that he released such a poor track just seven days after Harry released his sensational self titled debut (more on that later). Imagine that. Bit confident there Liam mate. Strip That Down feels like Liam showing how liberated he is now that he doesn’t have to maintain the squeaky clean 1D image, sending the world an aggressively heterosexual message that he’s a beast on the dance floor, and enjoys it when women “grind”, “hit the ground”, “swing that round” and “strip that down”. All of which seems a bit odd, considering he’s in a monogamous relationship and just became a father. Liam has actually said that he very nearly didn’t go solo, and I can’t help but feel that that might have been the better option…

3. Niall Horan

Personally I wouldn’t have had Niall pegged as one of the more successful members of One Direction – he was always just the one with the guitar to me – but I’ve actually mostly enjoyed his solo releases so far, and he’s brilliantly showcased just how talented a musician he really is. His debut album Flicker is set to be released next month and will feature the previously released songs This Town, which has already gone platinum, and Slow Hands, which is still going strong too. Flicker will also feature Niall’s most recent solo effort Too Much To Ask, which I love, and I’d actually argue it’s his strongest release to date. He’s got ‘mum music’ absolutely nailed, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. This Town whilst charming, was a bit basic and forgettable, wasn’t quite as strong as Slow Hands, which took a slightly sexier turn – but not too sexy, you’d definitely still hear it on Radio 2 at 3 o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon. I struggle to imagine that Niall’s releases will really attract all that much attention or excitement, but he may actually end up doing better than the other One Direction boys in the long run. Pop will always have room for the charming Irish boy.

2. Zayn Malik

Zayn beat everyone to it, abandoned ship early and got a head start on that solo career – not the move of a ‘normal 22 year old’, but I’m prepared to ignore that. Much like Liam, Zayn went hyper-sexual with his solo endeavour, the only difference being that Zayn’s is actually good. Really really good. He’s had the most successful solo career out of any of them so far, with debut single Pillowtalk now being certified triple platinum and racking up over 700 million views on YouTube. His collaboration with Taylor Swift for Fifty Shades Darker in the form of I Don’t Wanna Live Forever was also largely successful, it’s now certified double platinum, and it’s very easy to see why. He was always the moodier, sexier, edgier, and more angsty member of One Direction, and this definitely translates well through his solo material. TiO, whilst not a single, is his strongest track to date, and I’ll fight anyone who says otherwise.

1. Harry Styles

My secret favourite since day one. The one we all knew was always going to do well. If you had asked anyone which One Direction boy would have been the most successful in a post-1D world I would imagine that most would have said Harry Styles, and he’s done it with impressive ease. His self-titled, rose-tinted debut album was released in May earlier this year, and heavily draws on 70s rock influences, something I never really saw coming from Harry. I’ll be the first to admit that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy his solo material as much as I do. He’s brilliantly charismatic, and doesn’t feel the need to disown or badmouth the music that made him famous (ahem, Liam, Zayn – I’m looking at you). Harry Styles exceeded everyone’s expectations, being the perfect example of a successful solo artist, and after seeing Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk a couple of months ago, it’s clear his talents go far beyond music. I’d legitimately sell my organs to see Harry live, and if you’d told 15 year old Amy that she’d be saying that one day then she’d have laughed in your face. But he’s a total rockstar, and it’s not up for debate. Also I’m an absolute sucker for the pink aesthetic he’s got going on. 10/10.



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