In Depth

One Direction split: how serious is the angst?

The 'conscious ungrouping' of 1D causes real suffering for fans, but it's all part of the life cycle

As tween fans of boy band One Direction went into mourning yesterday, following the news that the band will 'take a break' in 2016, some commentators pondered the question of how seriously we should take the wave of angst sweeping social media and to an extent, real life.

One Direction members tried to dispel rumours that they were breaking up, using Twitter to clarify that, contrary to speculation, they are not splitting, just taking a well-earned hiatus. But that didn't stop the upwelling of grief and despair from many fans, who expressed their pain on social media.

Some commentators wondered if social media was a big part of the problem.

An editorial in The Times points out that teen angst about bands has been going on since Beatlemania first struck, but in the past, fans contented themselves with weekly fanzines. One Direction, on the other hand, are "a band born of the internet age", says the newspaper. As such, their devotees have consumed "a never-ending drip-feed of tweets and YouTube videos".

If they feel there may soon be a void at the centre of their lives, they may well be right, The Times notes, adding "if only until the next thing comes along".

In The Independent, Grace Dent did her best to contain her schadenfreude over the band split rumours, and tried to point out the upside of the "conscious ungrouping".

It is true that boy bands commodify and represent "so many sweet, gentle tween notions", and mark a phase of one's life when we think friendships will last forever, says Dent. They give kids a hook to hang their dreams on, so "no wonder it’s tough when it all goes tits up".

But "all boybands must die", writes Dent. It's the way their young fans can grow up. Besides, Directioners can take solace, she adds. In this day and age, it’s unlikely the band will be able to stop themselves returning for the money. If they're not on a 'We're Back' tour by 2030, "I will eat my own knickers".

Yes, it's all part of the boy band life cycle, points out Charles Poladian in the International Business Times.

"Few boy bands make it to the ten-year mark as a continuous act," writes Poladian. A hiatus, a period of inactivity and a comeback album usually gives these acts a new lease of life. Poladian points to the careers of British boy bands, Take That, Westlife and Boyzone, whose careers followed paths similar to that of 1D.

Take That lasted around five years while Boyzone went on for seven years before its members attempted a comeback. Westlife, another group managed by Simon Cowell, had a successful six years before Brian McFadden departed.

After six years, it seems like One Direction's time is just about up, says Poladian. But "if history's any indication, a reunion can't be ruled out in the near future".

One Direction 'split': can they make it on their own?

24 August

Tween music fans across the globe awoke today to the earth-shattering news that One Direction are to go "on a break" for a year to pursue solo projects.

According to an exclusive in The Sun, the group, who have sold more than 50 million records, will go their separate ways in March 2016 for "at least a year".

One Direction's fifth album is due out in November, so it is thought that the hiatus will begin after they have finished promoting the album.

There has been no word on whether there will be an album tour, meaning that the band's 31 October show at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield may be their last appearance together for at least 18 months. "What's almost certain is there will be no 1D music next year," an insider told The Sun. 

March is proving to be a fateful month for the band. It was in March this year that the band's millions-strong fanbase were rocked by Zayn Malik's decision to leave the band to pursue a solo career.

Today's announcement provoked a predictable tide of distraught tweets from bereft fans.

Some non-fans, however, were less sympathetic.

The question now is whether the boys of One Direction can make it alone? Forging a solo career is a notoriously tricky path for former band members. While the likes of John Lennon and Justin Timberlake have succeeded on their own, most ex-boyband stars struggle when they go solo. Zayn Malik has a contract with RCA Records, but has yet to produce a hit single since his departure.

If One Direction can be viewed as successors to 1990s pop phenomenon Take That then the member most likely to follow in the successful footsteps of Robbie Williams is tipped to be de facto frontman Harry Styles. Sun journalist Dan Wootton, who broke the story, told BBC Radio 4 that Styles is "receiving significant interest from Hollywood and a lot of people who want to sign him as a solo artist".

Wootton also speculated that "business-minded" Louis Tomlinson is in talks to appear as a judge on the next series of The X Factor, the TV talent show that launched One Direction to stardom when they finished in third place in 2010.

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