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Groups didn't fare too well on the American version of "The X Factor" last year, but in Britain, it's been a whole other story. A girl group called Little Mix won "The X Factor U.K." last season; Season 5's JLS is huge overseas; and now One Direction, a made-for-TV boy band that came in third on "The X Factor U.K." Season 7, is set to invade America--possibly ushering in a whole new boy-band revival in the process, as their mentor Simon Cowell claimed in a recent Reality Rocks interview. "Pop music is going to make a big comeback, and you're definitely going see that starting with One Direction," Simon boldly predicted.
Many adult Americans probably only discovered One Direction this week, when the group made its live U.S. television debut on "The Today Show" and announced a much-hyped "Saturday Night Live" April 7th appearance. But judging from the absolutely crazed fan reaction at the boys' "Today Show" concert Monday morning, plenty of young American tween girls are already intimately familiar with One Direction. (Some of those girls actually camped out for three days to catch a glimpse of the group they affectionately call "1D.") The mania surrounding this merry band of Brit poppers is reminiscent of the 1990s' Spice Girls phenomenon...or, as "The Today Show" even dared to claim this week, of Beatlemania back in the day.
One Direction is already a global sensation: The quintet's debut album Up All Night, which finally comes out in America this week, was the fastest seller in Britain last year, and it's already landed on top 10 album charts in 15 different countries. The video for 1D's first single, "What Makes You Beautiful," has racked up 65 million YouTube views, and the boys have more than two million Twitter followers and four million Facebook likes. "What Makes You Beautiful" even somewhat shockingly beat out Adele's "Someone Like You" for Best Single at this year's BRIT Awards.
So, will One Direction experience similar success on this side of the pond? My guess is yes. They're cute, spunky, and their perfectly sugary pop songs have been crafted by some of the best pro hitmakers in the biz, like Carl Falk (Nicki Minaj, Backstreet Boys, Taio Cruz), Matt Squire (3OH!3, Good Charlotte, Selena Gomez), Rami Yacoub (Danity Kane, Pink, *NSYNC), RedOne (Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez, Akon), Steve Mac (The Wanted, Cobra Starship, Leona Lewis), and Toby Gad (Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Brandy, Natasha Bedingfield, Fergie, various Idols). They're also appearing on Nickelodeon's Kids' Choice Awards on March 31 and touring America this spring with Nickelodeon's Big Time Rush, and their Yahoo! searches jumped 22 percent this week. So how could One Direction go in any direction but to the top of the U.S. charts?
Brush up on some fun facts about One Direction now, so you'll be better prepared for this imminent British Invasion:
-- Just like "The X Factor USA's" less successful groups Lakoda Rayne and InTENsity, One Direction started out as a manufactured act. Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson, whose ages ranged between 16 and 18 at the time, all auditioned for "The X Factor U.K." as solo singers, and had never met before going on the show in 2010. The idea to put them together in a group was originally suggested by "X Factor U.K." guest judge Nicole Scherzinger--interesting and ironic, considering how ill-fated Nicole's stint on "The X Factor USA" turned out.
-- One of the songs on Up All Night, "Tell Me A Lie," was co-written by Simon Cowell's old friend Kelly Clarkson; the track was originally intended for Kelly's own 2011 album, Stronger. I'd personally love to hear Kelly's shelved version someday.
-- Another 1D track, "One Thing," sounds an awful lot like a classic from the '90s boy-band era, "I Want It That Way" by Backstreet Boys. Coincidence? Who knows? But One Direction's core fans are probably too young to remember BSB's original anyway.
-- If One Direction had won "The X Factor U.K.," their coronation song was going to be a cover of Alphaville's '80s prom ballad "Forever Young." How fitting! Listen to their surprisingly decent leaked cover of the song HERE.