Not since Justin Bieber has a teen pop act whipped up such frenzied fans as British boy band One Direction. After forming on the U.K. version of "The X Factor" in 2010, the five guys who make up the band — Niall Horan, 18; Zayn Malik, 19; Liam Payne, 18; Harry Styles, 18; and Louis Tomlinson, 20 — are quickly drawing comparisons to mega-successful all-male groups that came before them like *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys, and even that most legendary boy band of all, The Beatles. Their first album, Up All Night, went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart when it was released last month, making it the highest chart debut of a British act ever.
As if all that weren't exciting enough, the guys have already received that one sure sign that they've arrived: a lawsuit. That's right, a U.S. band also called One Direction is suing "The X Factor" creator and the head of the guys' record label Simon Cowell for $1 million, and wants the band to stop using their name. The Americans claim they put out an album first, and that the Brits were made aware of the other One Direction when they filed an application for the name with the U.S. Trademark Office. Whether their name ends up being One Direction or something else, we should probably get used to hearing it! Here's what else you need to know about the teens behind the new British invasion:
Even former "American Idol" judge Cowell, who's known for his particularly blunt assessment of musicians, is impressed by them. "When they came to my house in Spain and performed, after about a millionth of a second [I knew]," Cowell reveals to Rolling Stone. "I tried to keep a straight face for a bit of drama for the show. I remember sitting next to this girl who I was working with. The second they left we jumped out of my chair and said, 'These guys are incredible!' They just had it. They had this confidence. They were fun. They worked out the arrangements themselves. They were like a gang of friends, and kind of fearless as well." That's a big deal coming from Simon!
The members of One Direction, also known as 1D, are already social media stars that created lots of online buzz before they actually hit the States. You can follow each of the guys separately on Twitter, as well as join the more than 2.8 million people who follow the entire band at @onedirection.
Of all the boy bands, One Direction says they're most inspired by The Monkees, Take That, and New Kids on the Block.
Like any good boy band, each member has quirky personality traits that help him stand apart from the others. A sampling, according to J-14 magazine:
- Liam has a phobia of spoons in restaurants, but not at home.
- Harry speaks French fluently and juggles.
- Zayn's first name is actually spelled Zain.
- Louis once worked at Toys 'R' Us.
- Niall would be a dentist if he weren't a singer.
One Direction performed live for the first time stateside on "Today" last month, and most recently killed it as the musical guest on the latest "Saturday Night Live." In case you missed it, check out their performance:
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