The One Direction fandom is special because of the connection its members share and how it enables them to bond simply over their love for the band. Public relations senior Alexa Reed said some of her closest friends to this day came out of that shared love.
“I actually have a friend who lives all the way in England who I met online, like, seven years ago. And we met because we both loved One Direction,” Reed said. “And we're still friends today.”
For Reed, the now defunct boy band is a constant reminder of the friends she has made and how she felt growing up.
“They were my preteen years, my teen years,” she said. “So just like, having that memory of growing up, and having my room like, filled with posters and listening to their music on replay and watching their videos and all that stuff. I mean, it was just a big factor of my life.”
This week, One Direction fans worldwide came together online to celebrate the group’s 10th anniversary on “The X Factor,” as well as the experiences and memories that came with being a directioner all these years.
The official One Direction Twitter account tweeted for the first time in two years Wednesday to debut the hashtag #10YearsOf1D and vaguely announced that something was coming in celebration.
The celebration release turned out to be a five-minute YouTube video reminiscing about the band and a new website that crashed almost immediately after launching due to an overwhelming worldwide fan demand.
10YearsOf1D.com is an immersive and exciting interactive fan experience, according to Simon Jones PR, and forms a timeline through the band’s five album eras. It also hosts an archive of music videos, images, TV performances and behind-the-scenes and rarely-seen content.
Although the site is currently inaccessible, Reed said she gave it a shot anyway.
“Of course it was down because every girl who's like 15 to 25 right now is, like, trying to get on it,” Reed said. “So I haven't seen it, but I mean, as soon as it pops back up, I’ll get on.”
Reed was a hardcore directioner for about half her life, she said, and even if she doesn’t listen to their music quite as much anymore, it still played a huge role in her life.
“I still appreciate the songs that they came out with because I listened to that every day for like 10 years,” Reed said. “Yesterday and today I've been listening to them, just because it's like a monumental day. So I'll always appreciate their music. It was like a part of me growing up.”
One Direction was also a major influence on nursing senior Zoe Murray’s childhood.
Partially through high school and definitely through middle school, Murray was another hardcore directioner, complete with a Twitter fan account.
She said the anniversary website came as quite a surprise. Seeing the notification in her email inbox this morning brought her a sense of excitement after all these years of radio silence, she said.
“There was never a time where I stopped becoming a fan because I didn't like them anymore,” Murray said. “It's just because I think that I didn't have time to commit as much to being a hardcore One Direction fan.”
The new website helped provide closure for many fans after the band’s abrupt breakup five years ago.
When many people think about One Direction, they remember Zayn Malik leaving the band in 2015, and the heartbreak so many directioners experienced at the time.
Ask any big One Direction fan, and they’ll tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news, Reed said. She was a sophomore in high school, and she was in her Spanish class when her sister texted her. Although her sister wasn’t a One Direction fan, she knew how much the band meant to Reed.
Reed thought it was a prank at the time, but a quick Google search confirmed what her sister had said.
“Now that it's 10 years later, I would say, like, it is nice to have, like, that sort of closure that I guess I was wanting all those years ago,” Reed said.
In addition to the dedication the fans put into the group, something that may have increased the longevity of the band was its sound, as basic as it was, said music assistant professor Megan Sarno.
Even though some people consider One Direction’s lyrics cliche and their songs sound like many other everyday-pop songs, Sarno said she thinks music and bands like that exist for a reason, and that there’s a reason fans flock to it.
“It must be giving them something, right? Like, it must be scratching some itch, filling some emotional needs that they have,” Sarno said.
The perfect pop group should have a good dynamic, an upbeat tempo and catchy, uplifting lyrics to appeal to the most people, Sarno said. The members have to be fun to watch in some way, especially together.
“They have to work well together and collaborate well together. And if they don't, then they would never have made it to 10 years,” Sarno said.
Even a huge fan like Reed can admit the songs weren’t all masterpieces, but sometimes they didn’t have to be. When she listens to them now, she realizes they’re not as good as she once thought.
“They're just teen pop garbage,” she said. “But that's what I loved 10 years ago, and I will still listen to it today, even though it's not the best music.”
Although the group was on hiatus and didn’t technically make it to 10 years together, the millions of people still willing to post about them and visit their anniversary site is a testament to the profound effect One Direction had on their fans.
It’s for that reason that Murray, Reed and millions of fans came together for one last hurrah through social media, celebrating the band that gave them 10 years of memories, music and friends.
“Even now I think their music kind of brings a sense of good memories, and I think, like, emotional ties. People get, like, both the old days and now the new music,” Murray said. “Seeing them develop and, like, growing up with them, that's a very unique experience that keeps people still listening and checking in with them.”