One Direction‘s hiatus isn’t even upon us yet — they still have a (final?) fifth album to release before the end of 2015 — but it’s a confirmed fact that’s weighing heavily on the souls of Directioners worldwide.
While they’ve promised this hiatus isn’t the end, those around long enough to remember what happened when *NSYNC decided to take a little break can attest to the reality of the situation: One Direction may not know if or when One Direction will get back together.
Given the amount of money a 1D reunion would generate, it’s a safe bet that unless one or more of the boys embark on a solo career every bit as successful as Justin Timberlake‘s, they’ll eventually reform for a tour, at the very least.
But how long will the hiatus last? We’re looking at past boy band breaks to get an insight into how 1D’s future may play out.
This would be the best-case scenario for mourning Directioners. The Boyz went on a temporary hiatus after health issues forced Michael McCary to retire in 2003, but the remaining three members reunited and released an album the next year.
A turnaround this quick is unlikely for 1D, though. Boyz’s break came about, in part, because Arista cancled their contract — it wasn’t so much they wanted to stop, they just needed to reorient their careers (they quickly created their own independent label). The members of 1D, however, do seem to need a break — especially if they’re planning on releasing any solo albums.
This is probably the worst-case scenario. Timberlake’s crazy-successful solo career meant *NSYNC’s break — which wasn’t supposed to be permanent — turned into a slow, confusing death for everyone involved who wasn’t Timberlake.
Yes, there was that little get-together at the 2013 VMAs. But if all Directioners can look forward to is 15 seconds of stage time more than a decade from now, they might as well start praying for the Wanted to get back together.
A 1D hiatus akin to the Backstreet Boys’ break — which lasted almost two years in terms of public appearances — would probably please fans and industry execs. Drug struggles aside, Backstreet’s short-ish break and loyalty to each other would sit well with the fanbase.
The beleaguered Backstreet Boys took some time out of the spotlight to deal with management and contract issues. When A.J. McLean hit The Oprah Winfrey Show in Nov. 2003 to talk about his addiction to drugs and alcohol, the rest of the group appeared with him for support — it was their first “reunion” appearance.
Of course, Backstreet didn’t truly come back — they’ve never reached the commercial heights of their early years since beginning the second (still quite successful) chapter of their career. Could that be One Direction’s fate? It’s possible.
NKOTB’s break ran from 1994-2008. Could 1D be apart that long? Not likely. New Kids’ popularity was waning significantly by the time they called it quits in the mid ’90s — they’d stepped down from stadium tours to smaller venues. One Direction, however, hasn’t suffered the same fate — while ticket sales might not be as strong as in the past, they’re still playing massive venues in 2015.
Due to growing up and changing tastes, NKOTB fans had already started to migrate away from the boys — three years after they split, there was no demand for a reunion.
But given that Directioners are growing up with the group — and that nostalgia listening has practically become a subgenre unto itself in the 21st century — it’s unlikely interest in a 1D reunion will have cooled in the next three to four years. So Directioners shouldn’t expect a break this lengthy unless Harry Styles becomes the next Justin Timberlake.
This might be the most apt historical boy band comparison. Like One Direction, The Monkees were created for a TV show. That means unlike most groups, where members naturally gravitate toward each other thanks to geography and shared interests, both 1D and the Monkees were put together by industry folk. It was more about picking group members who checked off boxes for the audience than band satisfaction.
Of course, the boys of 1D did seem to genuinely enjoy each other’s presence — at least, at first. But as with the Beatles, after years of grueling touring in the midst of complete pandemonium, even friends start to get sick of each other. The Fab Four could at least retire from touring and focus on their studio work. But unlike the Beatles, 1D wouldn’t make sense as a studio-only act. They’re not the driving creative force behind their own music.
That brings us back to the Monkees. Like the Monkees, the boys of 1D have attempted to gain some leverage in the songwriting department with semi-successful results. And like the Monkees before them, each singer probably assumes their massive collective following will carry through to a solo career.
Whether they can succeed apart remains to be seen, but if the Monkees are any indication, they can prepare for solo careers (based almost entirely on nostalgia) that plod on with dwindling results until the inevitable reunion.
That’s pretty dim — and probably not accurate for 1D. While the solo Monkees struggled for media attention, each member of 1D has instant access to millions of followers. There’s no danger of the band breaking up and the members disappearing from the public eye — even if they want to.
Another reason Directioners should keep their fingers crossed 1D doesn’t end up like the Monkees? They waited 15 years to reunite. By that point, 1D could have teenage kids — which, honestly, would make for an incredible opening act. One Direction: The Next Generation? Direction Daughters? Sons of 1D? At least Louis is getting a head start on that.