Can you believe it’s been nine years since the start of One Direction? Since it’s that time of year again, we’ve gotta show some love to our favorite Irish boy, Niall Horan, who grew up right before our eyes.
Horan auditioned for The X Factor UK at the age of 16, and was accepted into the competition. He sang “So Sick” by Ne-Yo, leaving the judges pretty unimpressed. Katy Perry and Simon Cowell had some harsh criticism for Horan. Luckily, he made it through to the next round.
Although Horan didn’t make the final rounds as a soloist, he soon joined forces with four other contestants. The decision, made by Cowell, to put Horan in a group with Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik, and Louis Tomlinson, has proven to be one of his best. (Cowell has had some pretty great groups formed from the X Factor; Little Mix and Fifth Harmony.)
Time on The X Factor
Niall Horan auditioned for The X Factor as a soloist and moved up a couple of rounds in the talent competition. He received mixed compliments from the judges, with only Louis Walsh completely in his favor. Walsh and Cowell voted yes, Cheryl Cole voted no, leaving Horan‘s fate up to Perry. She eventually voted yes, and he was sent on to continue his journey. At bootcamp, Horan sang “Champagne Supernova” and ultimately failed to impress the judges.
He was eliminated after the semifinals, the judges combined him with Styles, Payne, Malik, and Tomlinson to form One Direction. The band made it up until the finals, coming in third place. The group quickly gained popularity throughout the UK and after the finals, their song “Forever Young” was leaked. Following The X Factor, the band was offered a contract with Cowell’s label Syco and started to work on their first album.
Time with One Direction
Horan is the only member that was born outside of England, and is the second-youngest member of the band. Horan, alongside Tomlinson, usually weren’t given regular solos to perform during the group’s live weekly performances. Fans would often emphasize the fact that Horan was shunned vocally, even going as far as to start hashtags in support of him upon new album releases. #LetNiallSing would trend on Twitter in minutes. Horan would then go on to sing entire verses within songs on the album, and contributed a lot more toward the group’s songwriting.
After One Direction
In 2016, Niall Horan became a director for Modest!Golf, a golfing company formed from his prior management – Modest Management. In May of the same year, he founded Horan & Rose in collaboration with professional golfer, Justin Rose. Horan & Rose is a charity organization; upon the premiere event, they raised $1,600,000 for cancer research. Over the next three years, the organization would go on to raise $1,871,850. Horan also competed in the Soccer Aid All-Stars charity match with Tomlinson.
Solo Music Career
Niall Horan was the first one of the remaining One Direction members to release solo music. “This Town” debuted on September 29th, 2016, and reached #1 on iTunes in 49 countries, whilst becoming a top 10 single worldwide. He went on to announce in December that his debut album was in production. Following the announcement, in 2017, Horan won a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Breakout Artist. His second single, “Slow Hands,” was released on May 4th, 2017. The song peaked at #11 in the United States and hit #1 on US radio, while simultaneously reaching #7 in the UK.
In May of 2017, Horan performed at various events much like the Today Show’s Summer Concert Series, and Wango Tango. He also appeared on the cover of Billboard Magazine, as well as TMRW Magazine for both of their June issues. In support of Ariana Grande, following the Manchester attacks at her concert, Horan performed at her One Love Manchester benefit concert.
The start of the Flicker era was coming, and on August 29th, 2017, Horan went on to start his venue world tour – Flicker Sessions 2017. He released his debut album shortly after, on October 20th, which debuted #1 in the US. Which makes Horan the third member of the group to achieve this goal. His third solo single would prove to be a fan favorite, earning him a top 30 hit. “Too Much To Ask” was released in September, and two months later he signed his first modeling contract.
In November of 2017, Horan signed with Wilhelmina Models, won an American Music Award for Best New Artist, and he performed at the 51st Country Music Association Awards.
The final Flicker single, “On The Loose,” was released in February of 2018. The singer was quick to jumpstart his arena tour titled after the album, which lasted from March to September. In July, Niall Horan announced that he had a new song, “Finally Free,” to be featured on the soundtrack for the motion picture Smallfoot.
2019 marks the start of a new era for Niall, where he featured on a track titled “What A Time” alongside singer-songwriter Julia Michaels. (Who has worked with artists like 5 Seconds of Summer, Selena Gomez, LANY, and Shawn Mendes.)
The singer-songwriter announced to fans that he’s working on his second album, with approximately 40 songs in preparation. Niall described NH2 as “fun and sad all at the same time.”
Words: Shae Arabella | Photo: Niall Horan on Instagram