- Eleven years ago, on July 23, 2010, One Direction formed.
- After each member was eliminated on “The X-Factor,” the judges brought them back in a band.
- To celebrate 11 years of 1D, we ranked every music video they released before their 2016 hiatus.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
This video is a sweet time capsule of the “Up All Night” era, when they all wore coordinating outfits, Converse, suspenders, and bow-ties, and only had a few tattoos between the five of them.
The concept begins with the five members magically morphing into each other while wearing the same sweater. It uses some pretty cheesy special effects, but then it gets worse. After a cursed close-up onto Harry’s face, it zooms out and shows multiple versions of all five in a time lapse. The concept could’ve been cool, but they don’t really take advantage of it.
Plus, after all was said and done, photos from the set leaked of Harry looking absolutely sick and miserable. Apparently, no one involved enjoyed this shoot.
The “Gotta Be You” video centers on each of the boys making their way to a campsite via various methods of transportation (Liam and Louis drive, Zayn takes a train, Niall and Harry … walk?). Then, predictably, they meet up with a bunch of girls and watch fireworks.
Points for their impeccable British styling and Liam’s curly hair.
Every band does this type of video at some point — it shows the group inside the studio “recording” the song, and each of them gets to tinker around with instruments and the controls. Each of the members gets a moment or two to shine, and even with how bland the video’s concept is, their chemistry as a group is undeniable.
While it’s sad to see Zayn alongside the four remaining members in old clips, the real gut punch comes at the end when, after showing footage from their last performance as a group at the 2015 “X-Factor” finale, the four each go their separate ways. Come back, please!
The best scenes come from the kebab shop, when they clearly become the life of the party. While the scenes with the five of them on scooters are cute, the additions of the old ladies and the choreographed dance are confusing, and not what we love about One Direction.
But where “Perfect” gains an edge is its reflection on the lives that the members have had to lead over the last five years. It all takes place inside a hotel, as the boys had been on tour almost constantly since their first album came out. You get a sense that you’re intruding on their daily lives watching the video, which is clearly the point — they’ve lived inside a fish bowl for years.
Though the song is a bop, and is ostensibly a love song, it’s also kind of sad. They can’t offer a real relationship with stability, just a life of switching from hotel room to hotel room. The video reflects that melancholy vibe.
While DeVito is having a ball out in the desert, the video is a little too absurd for my taste. Zayn’s stuck with two sumo wrestlers, Liam leads a marching band on top of a bird cage, Louis hangs out with a monkey and other zoo animals, Harry pops out of a door in the middle of a desert to sing with ballerinas, and Niall is engaged in some type of African tribal dance that borders on cultural appropriation. In other words, it doesn’t age very well.
The video is objectively cool — they got to travel to the real NASA training facilities, and each member was able to participate in a different facet of astronaut training. Some highlights, of course, were Harry getting acquainted with a robot, and their direct homage to 1983 film “The Right Stuff” with their dramatic walk in the spacesuits.
It’s also interesting to directly compare their outfits and style here to something like “More Than This.” Each member has their own distinct aesthetic, and they don’t really mesh together — perhaps a sign that a split was on the horizon.
Not for nothing, the video spawned one of the most iconic One Direction memes — Zayn’s unimpressed face when his date gets interrupted by an angry guy. For this alone, it earns No. 8.
The POV style of “Night Changes” was also just ahead of its time. Scrolling through TikTok now, it’s impossible to miss any number of POV videos.
The group filmed it DIY-style while they were on tour, with scenes from New York City, London, Tokyo, and Ghana, complete with a cameo from then-Prime Minister David Cameron.
Most iconic moments? Zayn romantically serenading a tree, Niall’s shower and bathtub scenes, Louis’ pelvic thrusting, and literally every second one of them spends with the little kids in Ghana.
Their charm is infectious and irresistible. If you didn’t already know, after this video you did — One Direction was the next big thing.
The video sees each of the members reflecting on their childhoods and their families, first by singing in a room filled with photos, and then by recreating old family photos in the present-day. Another trend that has recently become popular on TikTok — the teens owe everything to 1D.
“What Makes You Beautiful” still holds up as a song and a music video, though the band would perfect their sound and vibe later. There’s a reason the video has over 1.2 billion views on YouTube. It just puts you in a great mood, has you itching to also drive down the California coast, and potentially meet some cute British (or Irish!) boys.
To put it simply: There is no One Direction phenomenon without “What Makes You Beautiful.” Harry still sings it when he performs solo. Its power is undeniable.
Every scene, from “Jailhouse Rock” to the fake surfing to the shots of them pretending to drive in front of a green screen, has approximately 10 different little background moments that will you have you watching the video over and over, wondering how you could have missed it the first time.
Why they chose to put forth “Gotta Be You” as their second single, we may never understand. But we’re lucky that “One Thing” was next — it’s easily a better song and video than “What Makes You Beautiful.” They lean into their British-ness, each of them gets a solo, and the hysteria they cause in the video signaled to us Americans that these boys are the real deal — we were just behind.
The rest of the band also plays double duty, with Harry playing Marcel the nervous marketing guy, Liam as Leeroy the flamboyant choreographer, and Niall and Louis as two studio execs that wouldn’t be out of place in “Tropic Thunder.”
The music video is really a love letter to One Direction and its fans. In the video, studio executives try to pressure them to conform to boy-band standards with matching outfits and choreography. Instead, they trash the place and perform a dance that only superfans would truly understand, filled with inside jokes and references to various interviews, behind the scenes videos, the “X-Factor” video diaries, and more. This is us, indeed.