One Direction's Most Controversial Moments

The members of 1D have caused plenty of controversy during their 10 years in the spotlight.

During their time in the spotlight, the five original members of One Direction were never far away from the headlines, although it hasn’t always been for the right reasons.

Originally formed on The X Factor in 2010, it didn’t take long before Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik were global stars, racking up number one hits and selling out shows all over the world.

However, the road to superstardom is often a rocky one, and 1D were no exception to this, repeatedly finding themselves in hot water for a number of reasons during their time as a band.

On the 10th anniversary of One Direction’s formation, we’re looking back at some of the group’s most controversial moments...

The band’s feud with The Wanted

A string of tweets from Zayn to The Wanted star Max George
A string of tweets from Zayn to The Wanted star Max George

In the early years of One Direction, the band and their short-lived rivals The Wanted had a long-standing feud, which peaked when Zayn branded lead singer, Max George, “chlamydia boy” during a heated Twitter row.

Eventually Jay McGuiness stepped in, urging Louis Tomlinson and Zayn to “stop mentioning us in your gigs”, adding: “We certainly no longer mention you and it’s time to let dead dogs lie.”

Louis and The Wanted’s Tom Parker previously clashed after the latter sent an unpleasant tweet implying that the former is gay, tweeting: “I’ll enjoy the press even more when you come clean #narnia #itgetsbetter”

Liam Payne gets on the wrong side of staff at the Empire State Building

Liam Payne performing in New York in 2012
Liam Payne performing in New York in 2012
Theo Wargo via Getty Images

In 2012, Liam paid a visit to the Empire State Building, but it seems his trip to the New York landmark wasn’t a smooth one.

“Just been to the Empire State Building had a great time except the security detail in particular the senior security supervisor was arrogant, unproffesional and extreamly disrespectful to my family,” Liam tweeted, adding the hashtag #TheresAlwaysTimeForManors (sic).

However, a post on the Empire State Building’s Twitter page accused Liam of “bad behaviour”, claiming: “No, our security does not know who you are, and does not care.”

Following their response, Liam then posted an apology, writing: “I would like to formally apologise to the Empire State Building security team and its owners for our misunderstanding the other night.

“I didn’t mean to cause anyone any problems and hope that I can come back again for a visit again in the future.”

But that’s not the only time Liam has sparked controversy from a great height

Liam Payne on a rooftop in East London
Liam Payne on a rooftop in East London
Twitter/Liam Payne

Liam was forced to apologise to fans over this photo, posted in 2014, which showed him standing on a window ledge, overlooking East London.

He tweeted: “You may have seen a photo of me today taken on top of a building. I regret being there and having the photo taken. “It was a stupid and irresponsible thing to do. I am sorry...”

Sidenote: Phone cameras have really come a long way since 2014, right?

That infamous “joint” video

Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik during a 1D concert
Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik during a 1D concert
Jeff Kravitz/Getty

Taking the heat off Liam and his rooftop somewhat, the world’s eyes were on Zayn and Louis later in 2014, when a video surfaced online, showing the twosome smoking a dodgy-looking cigarette.

In the video, Louis was heard saying to the camera: “So here we are, leaving Peru. Joint lit. Happy days!”

He could also be heard joking that “Mary J” is “one very very important factor of Zayn’s warm up”. Both Louis and Zayn remained tight-lipped on the clip at the time, but Liam did eventually apologise on behalf of his bandmates, tweeting: “I love my boys and maybe things have gone a little sideways I apologise for that. We are only in our 20′s we all do stupid things at this age.”

Louis clashes with Zayn after he quits the band

Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson, around five months before the former quit One Direction
Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson, around five months before the former quit One Direction

They might have been BFFs when they were still in One Direction, but once Zayn was gone from the group, he and Louis fell out spectacularly on Twitter, over music producer Naughty Boy.

During their tense exchange, Zayn publicly told Louis to “stop bitching”, writing to him publicly: “Remember when you had a life and stopped making bitchy comments about mine?”

The two were later reported to have made up, but when Zayn fell out with Calvin Harris, Louis made it clear he was on the DJ’s side by liking one of his tweets.

Years later, Louis claimed that he and Zayn had buried the hatchet, revealing it was his late mum’s dying wish for the two to make amends.

Miley Cyrus hints at MTV awards fix

Miley Cyrus at the VMAs in 2013
Miley Cyrus at the VMAs in 2013
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

At the MTV Video Music Awards in 2013, Miley Cyrus captured the whole world’s attention with her performance of We Can’t Stop, which saw her grinding up against Robin Thicke, sporting a flesh-coloured outfit and an enormous foam finger.

But what’s sometimes forgotten is that this was also the year that Miley stormed out of the VMAs before the end, unhappy with the result of the Song Of The Summer category.

Hinting on Twitter that something shady may be afoot, she wrote: “Leaving the VMAs. No it’s not over. I’m no psychic but congrats [to One direction] #songofthesummer”

Call her Mystic Meg, because 1D only went and won, didn’t they? We’re sure it was just a coincidence, though...

Louis Tomlinson gets the wrong end of the stick

After a journalist for The Independent noticed that Louis was sporting a t-shirt with the Apple logo on, but emblazoned in rainbow colours, she speculated it might be a mark of solidarity with the company’s CEO, who had recently come out as gay.

Unfortunately, Louis totally misread the situation, and took it as a suggestion that he himself was gay, tweeting the journalist directly and writing: “The fact that you work for such a ‘credible’ paper and you would talk such rubbish is laughable. I am in fact straight... Fucking ridiculous I even have to tweet that shit!”

Well, Louis. It turns out you didn’t actually have to at all.

Harry takes heat after posing in a Native American headdress

Harry Styles in a now-deleted Instagram photo
Harry Styles in a now-deleted Instagram photo
Instagram/Harry Styles

Many of Harry’s Instagram followers were not impressed with this photo, which shows him sporting a traditional Native American headdress.

After the controversy, the photo was deleted from his social media accounts.

Zayn receives death threats over #FreePalestine tweet

In 2014, Billboard reported that Zayn had received a “barrage” of death threats after sharing the above tweet to his 13 million followers (a figure which has more than doubled in the time since).

They also pointed out that Zayn had kept his tweet up despite the threats, and it remains active almost six years later.

Niall Horan apologises after branding a group of fans a “shower of c***s”

Niall Horan performing in 2012
Niall Horan performing in 2012
Kristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock

Many were surprised in 2012, when a video surfaced showing Niall greeting fans at Dublin airport with the unusual salutation of: “You shower of c***s.”

Although that sounds bad on paper, Niall did wish the same fans a happy birthday in the video, and later insisted his comments were “just banter”, tweeting: “Really sorry if I caused any offence. It was just banter with fans who I think of more as mates. But I understand that it’s not a word I should be using at all.”

Hayley Williams accuses One Direction of copying New Found Glory

Hayley Williams at the Billboard Women In Music luncheon
Hayley Williams at the Billboard Women In Music luncheon

A number of hits from the One Direction back catalogue have prompted music fans to get a sense of déjà vu (including Live While We’re Young, Best Song Ever and What Makes You Beautiful), but when the group unveiled their single Steal My Girl, Hayley Williams couldn’t help but point out its resemblance to another song.

The Paramore singer tweeted: ”[The] beginning of that new 1D song couldn’t sound any more like the beginning of @newfoundglory’s “its not your fault” but...”

Some critics also took issue with the lyrics of Steal My Girl, suggesting lyrics like “she belongs to me” were “anti-feminist”.

Louis Tomlinson’s pal upsets animal rights activists

Louis Tomlinson on the set of the Steal My Girl music video
Louis Tomlinson on the set of the Steal My Girl music video
One Direction/Facebook

This behind-the-scenes snap from the Steal My Girl video rubbed many animal rights activists up the wrong way, who were angered that the group had a chained monkey on the set of their music video.

Although a 1D spokesperson was adamant that no animals were harmed while making the video, UK-based charity Wild Futures called for the video to be pulled altogether.


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