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One Direction are an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, consisting of members Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson. They signed with Simon Cowell's record label Syco Records after being formed and finishing third in the seventh series of British television singing competition The X Factor in 2010. The group subsequently signed in the United States with Columbia Records. Becoming a prominent figure in mainstream popular music and popular culture, their two albums Up All Night (2011) and Take Me Home (2012), broke several records, topped the charts of most major markets, and generated worldwide chart-topping singles, including "What Makes You Beautiful" and "Live While We're Young".
Propelled to international success by the power of social media, One Direction are often described as sparking the resurgence in the boy band concept, and of forming part of a new "British Invasion" in the United States. Their achievements include a BRIT Award and 3 MTV Video Music Awards. As of November 2012, the boy band have sold over 15 million records worldwide. According to Nick Gatfield, the chairman and chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment UK, One Direction represented a $50 million business empire by June 2012. They were proclaimed 2012's 'Top New Artist' by Billboard, while The Huffington Post named 2012 "The Year of One Direction". The X Factor, formation, and record deal (2010–11)
"Interestingly, when they left, I had a bad feeling that maybe we shouldn't have lost them and this is when the idea came about that we should see if they could work as a group. The minute they stood there for the first time together – it was a weird feeling. They just looked like a group at that point. I had a good feeling, but then obviously we had about a five-week wait where they had to work together. I was concerned whether five weeks was long enough, but they came back five weeks later and were absolutely sensational. When they came to my house in Spain and performed, after about a millionth of a second. I tried to keep a straight face for a bit of drama for the show. I remember sitting next to this girl who I was working with. The second they left we jumped out of my chair and said, "These guys are incredible!" They just had it. They had this confidence. They were fun. They worked out the arrangements themselves. They were like a gang of friends, and kind of fearless as well."
—Simon Cowell, on the formation of One Direction.
In 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson auditioned as solo candidates for the seventh series of British television reality singing competition The X Factor. Failing to progress to the "Boys" category at "judges' houses", after a suggestion by guest judge Nicole Scherzinger, they were put together to form a five-piece boy band at Wembley Arena, London, England, July 2010, during the "bootcamp" stage of the competition, thus qualifying for the "Groups" category. Subsequently, the group got together for two weeks to get to know each other and to practise. Styles came up with the name One Direction. For their qualifying song at "judges' houses", and their first song as a group, One Direction sang an acoustic version of "Torn". In the live shows within four weeks, they were Simon Cowell's last act in the competition.