Formed on the 2010 edition of the U.K.'s "X Factor" TV program, the male quintet earns the highest new-Brit Hot 100 launch since the Verve's "Bittersweet Symphony" entered at No. 13 on the chart dated March 28, 1998. (While that wasn't necessarily the Verve's very first single, it was their first Hot 100 entry.)
To be more exacting, the last U.K. act (solo or otherwise) to start higher than One Direction with their true first U.S. single was singer Jimmy Ray with "Are You Jimmy Ray?" on Feb. 21, 1998 (No. 26).
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Finally, the last U.K. group to see its first U.S. single start higher was the Spice Girls, when "Wannabe" landed at No. 11 on Jan. 25, 1997. "Wannabe" vaulted to No. 1 four weeks later, spending four straight weeks at the top of the tally.
The success of "Beautiful" may only be just beginning. It makes its retail launch even before One Direction's record label -- Columbia -- officially begins going for airplay at pop radio next week.
One Direction comprises Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. All of the group hails from U.K., save for Horan, who is from Ireland. The five young gents (ages 18-20) have nabbed three top three U.K. singles and reached No. 2 with its debut album "Up All Night" in November 2011. "Night" will be released in the U.S. on March 13 via SYCO/Columbia.
Last night (Feb. 21), the act won its first Brit Award (essentially the U.K. equivalent of the U.S.' Grammy) for best British single for "What Makes You Beautiful." (The category is one of three Brit Awards determined by a public vote.)
Next up for the group will be a U.S. tour with Big Time Rush beginning Feb. 24 in Chicago, with dates lined up through March 9 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. They'll also play NBC's "Today" show on March 12 -- the day before "Up All Night" is released.
One Direction follows in the recent success of fellow U.K. quintet the Wanted, who jump 25-23 on the Hot 100 this week with "Glad You Came." So far, the single has moved 418,000 downloads. The song also rises 16-13 on the Pop Songs airplay tally this week.
(Additional reporting by Gary Trust)