Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik have all established themselves as successful solo artists, but they will forever have The X Factor and Simon Cowell to thank for their remarkable boy band beginnings. In this week’s Music Video Evolution, Billboard is taking a look back at the visual offerings from One Direction, starting with their 2011 debut single “What Makes You Beautiful” all the way to 2016’s career-spanning clip “History.”
Kicking off with their very first music video, “What Makes You Beautiful” saw the fresh-faced fivesome singing at the beach, while also following a love story between Styles and his female costar. As revealed in a behind the scenes look at video, the boys – namely Tomlinson – were pulled over by cops twice during the making of the video for driving their orange campervan too slowly, and Tomlinson was subsequently mocked by his bandmates for it.
Later that year, One Direction dropped “Gotta Be You,” which showcased their softer side. “I think it’s going to pull a few heartstrings,” Malik told Capital FM of the video ahead of the its release. However, they returned with the party vibes for 2012’s “One Thing,” which saw the guys having fun atop a double decker bus as it drove around London and captured some 1D fan hysteria.
Next came a live version of “More Than This,” followed by “Live While We’re Young,” which featured some endearing choreography and the simplistic black-and-white “Little Things,” which captured the band during a recording session at the studio.
Vaughan Arnell directed One Direction’s “Kiss You,” which was released in 2013, which he told MTV News was inspired by the Beach Boys, 50’s B-movies, cult surfing films and Elvis Presley’s Blue Hawaii and Jailhouse Rock. “Pure stupidity,” Tomlinson said of the visuals, with Payne calling it “loads of fun” with “stupid dancing.”
The proceeds for their next song “One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)” went to Comic Relief, so the guys filmed the video themselves to save money, getting goofy while wearing red noses and at one point embracing then-Prime Minister David Cameron.
The hilarious James Corden-directed “Best Song Ever” followed in 2013, while 2014 saw the release of “Midnight Memories” and “You & I.” That year, they also released “Steal My Girl,” which starred Danny DeVito, sumo wrestlers, a sunglasses-wearing chimpanzee, ballet dancers and a marching band all having one big party in the middle of a desert.
In 2015, the band trained as astronauts for their first post-Zayn video “Drag Me Down.” Then in 2016, just after the now-foursome announced their hiatus, the guys took a trip down memory lane with their final video, “History.” The video featured clips from throughout their career dating back to their X Factor beginnings, and in the end, each One Direction member (sans Malik) waved goodbye to one another, walking in separate directions and leading to the start of each of their individual solo careers.
You can take a similar trip down memory lane by watching One Direction’s Music Video Evolution below.