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 The British-Irish pop band, One Direction, is one of the most popular bands of all time. The X-Factor group consisting of Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik and Liam Payne came together following five less-than-stellar auditions and found international success despite the odds. One Direction turns 12 years old today. 

After getting their start in 2010, they released five back-to-back albums. Their last one, ‘Made in the A.M,’ was recorded after Malik left the band. It remains their last album as a band before their infamous hiatus. 

The boys announced an indefinite hiatus in December 2015, promising they’d be back in 18 months. We’re still waiting… six years later.

To celebrate their 12th anniversary, here is a list of their top 12 songs.

“What Makes You Beautiful” 

From their first album “Up All Night,” What Makes You Beautiful” is One Direction’s first single. Although “you’re insecure” doesn’t make the best opening, the rest of the pop banger makes up for it. Through upbeat sounds and lyrics, the boys talk about how beautiful their significant other is. The song is now heavily sung at Styles’ concerts. 

“Through the Dark”

This drum-driven song is about going through the dark for their love. The song is often featured by Tomlinson on his “Walls: World Tour.” 

“Midnight Memories”

From third studio album “Midnight Memories,” this song started off about KFC chicken. The titular track was the first song to be written for the record and set the pace for the rest of the album.

“Ready to Run”

“Four,” from 1D’s fourth album, is a calm and intimate tune that finds the boys talking about how they miss their significant others, wishing to run back to them. 

“Fool’s Gold”

Also from “Four,” this song was penned by all five members of the band alongside regular collaborator Jamie Scott and American songwriter MoZella. The name comes from the mineral pyrite whose yellow color falsely resembles gold. The melodic song talks about falling in love with a person despite knowing their intentions aren’t genuine, like a fool. 


Illusion talks about genuine love. The lyrics talk about their love for their partner over an upbeat melody.

“Drag Me Down”

This song soars with high beats that talk about how nobody can drag the band down as long as they have someone to love. The iconic music video was filmed right here in Houston at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. 

“If I Could Fly”

Featured on their final album, “Made in the A.M.,” this piano-led ballad leans heavily on vulnerability in a relationship. This tender song goes through the process of letting one’s guard down and allowing love for a partner. 


“Perfect” is speculated to be about Taylor Swift, who Styles dated in 2012. Released as the second single, the song is about how even though one half of a couple is not perfect, they’d like to see where the relationship goes because they really like their love interest.

“Little Things”

“Little Things” is a sweet melody where the band sings about little things their significant other does that make them love them more. One of the most tender memories from live performances of the song remains when Styles changed the lyric from “But you’re perfect to me” to “And you’re perfect to me,” while singing it live. The change is speculated to be for Malik, as he was battling an eating disorder while in the band. 

“Story of my Life”

Also from “Midnight Memories,” the song shifts through the perspective of a breakup. It was accompanied by an emblematic music video that showed the band in different stages of their life, featuring many childhood photos. 

Bonus: “History” 

You can’t talk about One Direction’s best songs and not mention “History.” This is often seen as the boys saying goodbye to their fans. However, this is the group reminiscing about their past together as a band and talking about how they could be the greatest team the world would ever see. Although they aren’t together anymore, this writer thinks they are one of the best, if not the greatest band of our generation.

Walking in the Wind

From their last record together, this is 1D saying goodbye. The song talks about memories they’ve made together and how, although this is goodbye, they will find each other (and us) again. 

One Direction might not make new music anymore, but their old records are iconic. The closest we will come to a 1D reunion is going to a One Direction club night or watching one of the boys perform some of the songs at their solo concerts. 

To celebrate the anniversary, let’s listen to their songs and watch their movies. As Styles said, they will always be our boys, no matter what! Cheers, Directioners! 

The list is influenced by my opinion, please don’t take it personally. This is not a ranking.

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