One Direction is moving on without Zayn Malik — following the first departure from an original group member last week, Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis announced that they will be continuing their world tour and releasing an album later this year as a quartet. That’s good news for Directioners anxious to see their favorite group end 2015 on a triumphant note — but what happens after this year? If all of 1D eventually opts to go their separate ways, what existing act could realistically slide into their role as the de facto young male group that can conjure a stadium’s worth of screams?
Zayn Malik Leaves One Direction, But Don’t Expect a Justin Timberlake-Style Break Out
While we still have time to appreciate the pop culture dominance of One Direction, here are eight groups that has at least a shot of one day rising to their level:
5 Seconds of Summer
The most obvious heirs to One Direction are the four Australian goofballs who have opened for 1D on multiple tours, and who scored a No. 1 album debut with their self-titled LP last year. 5SOS are already young heartthrobs, are working on a follow-up album, will be headlining arenas this summer and can pull in pop-punk fans as well as the teenybopper set.
British pop band the Vamps are playing arenas overseas and have opened for artists like Taylor Swift and Austin Mahone, and although the quartet has yet to score a U.S. hit, the group has already recorded tracks with North American stars like Demi Lovato and Shawn Mendes. Like 5 Seconds of Summer, the Vamps are an overseas product that prides itself on playing its own instruments; time will tell whether or not they can also establish a presence in the States.
Niall Horan: One Direction ‘Organising’ Next Album
Sibling trio AJR (that’s Adam, Jack and Ryan Met) are probably closer to being the next Jonas Brothers than the next One Direction, but a breakout hit could raise the stakes for the amiable pop group. Their new album Living Room was released earlier this month, and includes the catchy, ukulele-assisted single “Infinity.”
The four Lynch siblings, led by former Disney Channel star Ross Lynch, comprise 80 percent of the pop-rock group R5, which will be releasing the follow-up to their 2013 album Louder this year. Favorites of the Radio Disney set, R5 has a young fan base in place and is looking to expand to a much more diverse audience in the near future.
Rixton authored perhaps the best-known single from any band on this list, as “Me and My Broken Heart” became a Top 20 hit on the Hot 100 chart last year. A great live act that is currently opening for Ariana Grande on tour, Rixton is hoping to translate the success of their breakout single into a string of chart appearances (their debut album, Let The Road, was released earlier this month).
Like One Direction, Union J is a boy band product of the U.K. version of The X Factor; unlike 1D, the quartet has not attempted to take hold of U.S. listeners thus far (neither of their two studio albums are available for purchase in the States). However, the British group has a string of overseas hits, including “Carry You” and “Tonight (We Live Forever),” and will be supporting the Vamps on their U.K. arena tour this spring.
This five-piece came together in Los Angeles in early 2013, and specialize in “pop and EDM” while also shouting out their Bromeos & Juliets. Songs like “Free Fall” and “LOL (Love on Lock)” display some impressive vocal harmonies, and After Romeo promises to release more music soon.
This group of pranksters is more of a “musical comedy” troupe than a straight-up boy band — but they’re a wildly popular collective, with their gross-out humor coupled with joke songs that earn millions of YouTube views. Following the release of their Would U Love Me EP earlier this month, the quintet performed at Wembley Arena in London for a one-night-only, mayhem-filled Janofest.