One Direction, Europe

Mar 13 2018

One Direction, Europe

Published by

One Direction is a British-Irish boy band that was formed in 2010 on the British X-Factor. The group is based out of London, United Kingdom and has 5 members. Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik come together to create the diverse group of men who took both European and American rock and roll influences to help define a new era of pop/rock and roll music in Europe and America.

Image result for one direction then and now

I first heard One Direction’s music in 2011 when I was in the 8th grade. So many of my friends were obsessed with them. I never understood the starstruck feeling my friends got by just listening to their music or looking at their pictures. These reactions were similar to the reactions that my friends in earlier years had the Jonas Brothers and Justin Bieber. From that point in time, I do not think I have experienced a similarly obsessed, almost cult-like, fandom.

The ethnic/national/religious diversity within the group illustrates diversity within the United Kingdom during the 21st century. While Harry, Louis, Liam and Zayn are all from England, Niall Horan is from The Republic of Ireland. Zayn Malik is of Pakistani and Irish descent, which can be tied to British colonization of the Middle East during the heyday of the British Empire.

Zayn Malik identifies as a Muslim, but is generally non-practicing. He has tattoos, which is very uncommon in the Muslim faith and he is quoted as saying that he “does not want to be defined by…religion or… cultural background” (Mulkerrins, 2017). He has spoken out in the past about political issues, specifically the Israel-Gaza Conflict during which he tweeted “#FreePalestine”(Ritman, 2014). He was unapologetic in his support, despite anger from fans that supported Israel in the conflict.

One Direction’s sound as a whole, within the teen pop-rock genre is relatively unique. There is heavy influence coming from American and European Rock bands from the 1980’s that shone through on almost every track that was produced during their time. There were heavy guitar riffs and extremely energetic choruses (Lipshutz, 2012) similar to The Rolling Stones, Queen and even The Ramones. Influences from modern artists like Ed Sheeran also came to be a large part of their unique and popular sound. There is perfection in the vocals of One Direction that was achieved through the use of AutoTune, which makes the music universally beautiful.

The exploitation of the “Boy Band” ideals helped market the band to the world, but specifically helped them gain a cult-like following within the United States. During this time, the band used the already popular Justin Bieber to find their fan base and adjust their image accordingly. The messages of this European boy band were very similar to the already extremely popular American teen pop stars: innocent, adolescent puppy love. There is also a common delivery of this theme: attractive young men. The use of a universally appealing idea (love) as a theme marketed by universally appealing individuals (One Direction) is a recipe for success.

Image result for one direction albums

This Americanization occurred after the initial formation of the band and the release of their music. The primary goal was not to market the band to an American, let alone global audience. Young British girls were the targets, and that target was hit. Once One Direction hit the global market, their image and sound began to mold into a more acceptable and digestible American form.

From an outside perspective, all members of the group One Direction are very much British. However, upon further analysis of their ethnicities and nationalities the band is a very diverse group of young men. The past between Niall’s homeland (Ireland) and the rest of the band members’ homeland (United Kingdom) is a complicated and interesting one. The story between the split between the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom can be explained by this short video made by WonderWhy:

Pakistanis (like Zayn Malik) are the second largest ethnic minority in the United Kingdom. This large percentage of Pakistani individuals can be explained by the history of British colonization in Middle Eastern countries, like Pakistan. However, in recent years there has been a large emigration of British-Pakistanis out of the United Kingdom (Roy and Ong, 2011). There is very little evidence as to why this diaspora is occurring, but the destinations of these British-Pakistanis tend to be outside of Europe. The figure below displays the number in thousands of British babies born to immigrant mothers from Pakistan as compared to other large immigrant groups in the United Kingdom.

Image result for British pakistani graph

The sound of One Direction’s music plays into the idea that any Western culture or American in origin is automatically “good”. There is very little regional originality in their music. However, I think that says something about the region itself. While Americans split from the British government in the 18th century, there is still a connection between the two countries/regions. There are many stark differences between American and British culture; however, there are ways in which the British attempt to emulate Americans, and vise versa. Music happens to be one of the facets of culture in which the United Kingdom and the United States are very similar. This may not be intentional, but more of a coincidence of having a shared language.



  1. Lipshutz, Jason (7 March 2012). “One Direction, ‘Up All Night’: Track-By-Track Review”. Billboard. New York. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  2. Mulkerrins, Jane (19 June 2017). “Zayn Malik on girlfriend Gigi Hadid”. Evening Standard. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  3. Ritman, Alex (29 July 2014). “One Direction’s Zayn Malik Barraged With Death Threats After ‘#FreePalestine’ Tweet”. Billboard. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  4. Roy, Ananya; Ong, Aihwa (2011). Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global. John Wiley & Sons. p. 170. ISBN 9781444346770. Retrieved 10 February 2018.



Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.