THE BLOG

Why One Direction's Split Was a Matter of When, Not If

24/08/2015 08:10 BST | Updated 23/08/2016 10:59 BST

So the news to dampen a million teenage hearts has come, that One Direction's remaining four members have decided to leave the party and head off towards their own pastures new.

While fans struggle to express their grief through tears, tissues and a thousand tweets, could this news have really been in any way a real shock to even the most die-hard fan?

One Direction have shifted an impressive 50 million albums, scored a stunning 91 number one singles around the globe. But it's been five long years since it all began - as every 'insider' at Syco is quick to say, "they've had an extraordinary run".

And a run it's been, not by any means a casual saunter. There hasn't been a corner of the globe left uncovered by the tireless efforts of this band of five, now four. While social media has ensured they can send overseas hormones racing with one twitch of an emoticon, it's jumping on a plane and singing to crowds in Japan, Jakarta, Johannesburg, where they convert this affection into hard cash. The bean counters at Syco know their business and One Direction have performed to a jaw-dropping 7.5million fans along the way - which translates into an awful lot of time stuck in an aeroplane seat or a Winnebago for a group of young men with more offers and invitations than they know what to do with.

These Twitter-spatting, media-wary chaps are a lifetime away from those five wide-eyed boys who turned up on X Factor in 2010, sweating with gratitude to be given a second chance as a fabricated group, once they'd all blown it as solo performers.

And so their wholesome, cherubic appeal was bottled, polished, reshaped and sold to the masses. And here we get to the first paradox of pop, how it was the incredible level of success (and we must doff caps to Simon Cowell for a job faultlessly done), and accompanying levels of expectation and scrutiny, that began to chip away at the very qualities - the fun, innocence, the surprise at their own triumph - all the stuff we'd fallen for in the first place. Equally bizarrely, the very speed of their ascent to the top of the pop pile really only guaranteed that the end would come more quickly.

You can see it in the arguments on social media, Louis' cockiness offset by Liam's clunky attempts at PR. You can see it in the weariness of their interviews over the last year, compared with the mischief-making of years one to three. You can see it in the increasingly unsmiling red carpet appearances. And then there is Zayn.

In this A-list fatigue, One Direction are just the latest examples of the second paradox of pop, that the more you taste of stardom's sweet dream, the less you start to want. Just ask Brian McFadden. Or Brian Wilson. Or the Backstreet Boys. Or The Beatles. It may be strange, but 'twas ever thus.

As with One Direction, so with every band formed young, worked hard, tired out. If the group fails and no one buys their records any more, no boxes get ticked and it soon splits up. If the band succeeds beyond anyone's wildest imagination, all the boxes get ticked and it eventually splits up. One of these scenarios requires helplines for broken teenage hearts.

So what can we learn from this? That these four young lads would rather risk future failure on their own than continue as a record-breaking ensemble. That we should probably listen to rumours about bands splitting up, as they invariably come true. And that, down at the betting shop when you're asked to fill in your slip for things that will last forever, a fabricated boy band probably isn't the best thing to put your money on.