The Great Debate

One Direction: better together or apart?

Clara Neupert

More stories from Clara Neupert

Madeline Fuerstenberg

More stories from Madeline Fuerstenberg

November 2, 2020

Better as a band:

There’s nothing quite like a boy band — an idea that has graced this earth since the bell-bottomed 1960s.

And just as there’s no joy like a boy band, there is also no pain like that of when said boy band separates. It’s like when that hole in your favorite jeans gets just large enough that they’re no longer socially acceptable to wear in public.

Obviously, I’m referring to One Direction, which was active from 2010 to 2016. The group was composed of Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik.

With their fifth Top 10 debut on the Hot 100, One Direction even beat their British predecessors, the Beatles, according to CNN.

And if that isn’t enough, Entertainment Weekly reported that together the boys broke six 2016 Guinness World Records, including “First group to debut at No. 1 with their first four albums in the U.S.” and “Most followers on Twitter for a music group.” Talk about teamwork.

For more evidence, I decided to turn to the biggest One Direction fan I know: my father, David Neupert, who works as a process engineer. He owns three One Direction CDs.

Neupert said he liked One Direction’s strong sound, which was only achieved when they were together.

“You can’t sing in harmony by yourself,” my dad said.

After the quintet disbanded, Neupert said he became disenchanted with the boys’ music.

“I’ve boycotted it,” Neupert said. “They just don’t sound the same.”  

Sure, One Direction is okay apart. But together, they really had that “One Thing.”


Better Apart:

While One Direction may have worked its way into the hearts of thousands of teenaged girls — and apparently, some adult men — in the early 2010’s, the five young boybanders have since gone their separate ways; undeniably, for the better.

I’m not going to lie, Middle School Me was a huge Directioner back in my glory days. But I’ve grown, and I know better now. Yes, their music was catchy, but at the end of the day, they were just another generic boyband.

Separately, the former members of One Direction have grown into their own individual phenomenons. From singing, to acting, to music producing, these young men are conquering all realms of the entertainment business.

According to, Harry Styles has signed an $80 million (£60m) record deal with Sony’s Columbia for three albums, “essentially quadrupling his estimated personal fortune of £17 million.” Styles has also appeared in Christopher Nolan’s hit film “Dunkirk.”

Louis Tomlinson has started his own record label. Niall Horan has signed a new record deal with Simon Cowell. Liam Payne has taken up song writing and is the only former member of One Direction to sign a new record deal outside of Sony Records. Finally, Zayn Malik’s first solo album reached No. 1 in both the U.K. and the U.S.

Without the pressure to conform to a predetermined group dynamic, these artists have been able to create their own unique brands, more genuine to their true selves.

Thanks to their separation, the former boys of One Direction have attracted fans who might never have listened to them before, and have created more mature content that reaches far beyond the constricted boundaries of the boyband persona.