10 Ways The World Has Changed Since One Direction’s Formation

We are living in truly different times to when 1D were put together on The X Factor in 2010.
HuffPost UK

A lot can change in a decade, and things are certainly a lot different in the world to how they were when One Direction were formed on The X Factor in 2010.

This week has seen Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Liam Payne celebrating 10 years since they were first put together during filming of the seventh series of the ITV talent show.

And as part of our 10 Years Of 1D celebrations, we’re taking a closer look at just some of the ways the world has changed – from political moments and life-changing inventions, to the demise of the very show that launched them...

1. Brexit

In July 2010, the Conservatives had only just got back into power after 13 years of Labour rule, with David Cameron taking over at No 10 from Gordon Brown just two months earlier.

Back then, none of us could have imagined just how much the political landscape would change over the ensuing decade – not least because of Brexit.

In the lead up to the 2015 election, Cameron – who had actually made a cameo appearance in One Direction’s video for One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks) two years earlier – pledged to let the UK vote on its EU membership in his manifesto.

Remember this
Remember this

And while it might feel as if Brexit has been going on since the beginning of time, One Direction’s hiatus has actually lasted longer. The result of the referendum in June 2016 came five months after the lads went their separate ways.

2. Instagram

One Direction built a fanbase unlike any other thanks to social media, with their army of Directioners primarily using Twitter to support their idols in the group’s early days.

And while that later spilled over onto Instagram, it’s mad to think it was a full three months after 1D formed before the photo-sharing app even launched in its earliest incarnation in October 2010.

As a band, they didn’t even have an Instagram account until August 2012, with their first post a picture of Zayn in the recording studio.

Insta Stories – which are now an integral part of marketing yourself as an artist or influencer – didn’t follow until after One Direction went on hiatus, launching in August 2016, meaning the lads have never posted a story as an actual band.

1D’s Instagram Followers (as of 22 July 2020)

  1. Zayn 33.7m
  2. Harry 29m
  3. Niall 24.1m
  4. Liam 19.7m
  5. Louis 14.9m

1D’s Twitter Followers (as of 22 July 2020)

  1. Niall 39.7m
  2. Harry 34.6m
  3. Louis 33.9m
  4. Liam 33.2m
  5. Zayn 28.8m

3. Selfie sticks

Azure-Dragon via Getty Images

A selfie stick was an essential for any Directioner in with a chance of getting near their idols.

However, the modern incarnation of the photo-taking device – one capable of holding a smart phone – did not go on sale until late 2012, with the term “selfie stick” not entering popular vernacular until around 2014.

4. The rise (and rise) of Love Island

While it feels like we’ve been watching toned and tanned Love Island contestants cracking on and pie-ing each other off for years now, the series (as we know it now, not the mid 00s celebrity version) didn’t actually launch until after Zayn had left the group.

In fact, Love Island used Zayn to help launch the show in 2015, casting Lauren Richardson, who made headlines when she was pictured with Zayn earlier that year, sparking rumours he’d cheated on then-fiancée Perrie Edwards. However, Lauren firmly denied anything had ever happened between her and Zayn.

Lauren on Love Island
Lauren on Love Island

Much like Big Brother and X Factor did before it, Love Island has brought with it a whole new breed of celebrities, in the form of social media influencers.

5. And the fall (and fall) of The X Factor

Back in 2010, The X Factor was at its absolute peak. A true cultural phenomenon, with an average of 14 million of us tuning in each week during the seventh series, on which One Direction were formed.

However, these days, it struggles to pull in even half that audience, with the last regular series in 2018 (on which 1D’s Louis Tomlinson served as a judge) pulling in an average of 6 million – around 3 million less than its Saturday night rival Strictly Come Dancing.

The 2018 X Factor judges Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell
The 2018 X Factor judges Robbie Williams, Ayda Field, Louis Tomlinson and Simon Cowell
Mike Marsland via Getty Images

The X Factor hit embarrassing new lows during its spin-off series The Band in December last year, with not a single episode pulling in even 3 million. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s been put on a hiatus in 2020, with only one more series commissioned by ITV.

6. Trump’s presidency

Back in 2010, the White House was still occupied by Barack Obama, who was still two years away from being re-elected for a second term in office.

A certain Mr Donald Trump was still a business tycoon who was playing at being a celebrity at the helm of the US version of The Apprentice.

Donald Trump in 2010
Donald Trump in 2010
Charles Sykes/Shutterstock

That year, a celebrity version of the reality series saw former X Factor judge Sharon Osbourne sitting in the boardroom as a contestant, alongside singer Cyndi Lauper and Olympian Michael Johnson.

7. The dominance of Spotify

stockcam via Getty Images

Back when One Direction released their first single What Makes You Beautiful in September 2011, the charts were a very different place.

Streaming services like Spotify – which massively help shape the chart these days – were still very much in their infancy, and the charts only counted singles that were downloaded on the likes of iTunes or physically bought in shops (yes, this really used to happen).

New rules fully integrating streaming counts into the official singles chart were only introduced in June 2014.

This meant that Steal My Girl was the first One Direction single to debut on the new-look chart in September 2014, with it reaching number three.

8. Smart speakers

Michael Wapp via Getty Images

Likewise, smart speakers have also changed the way we listen to and consume music.

There’s now many different brands and devices on the market, but the first home assistant device that allowed you to stream music was Amazon’s Alexa, which was released in November 2014.

9. Gen Z stars in the spotlight

Lil Nas X, Millie Bobby Brown and Billie Eilish
Lil Nas X, Millie Bobby Brown and Billie Eilish

The last decade has seen the emergence of a new generation of stars who were literally children when One Direction first got together.

Take chart toppers Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X for example. Billie was just eight years old in 2010, while Lil Nas was 11.

Love Island stars Molly-Mae Hague and Tommy Fury were also both 11, and if you really want to feel old, Stranger Things star Millie Bobby Brown was just six. SIX!

10. Covid-19

Radoslav Zilinsky via Getty Images

Remember a time when we’d never heard of coronavirus or hadn’t a clue what a national lockdown felt like? No, us neither.

2010 truly was simpler times.


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