One Direction's Road To 2012 VMAs: From Reality TV To 'Historical Moment'

VMA-nominated "What Makes You Beautiful" video certifies 1D as big-time pop stars, but how did they get here?

One Direction's road to the VMAs has been short, but incredibly sweet. Since launching on the U.K.'s "X Factor" back in December 2010, the guys have been riding the wave of their chart-topping, record-breaking debut album Up All Night. Released in the U.K. and Ireland in November 2011, the album hit the states in early 2012 to a frenzy of fandom.

Shortly after wrapping up their opening-act slot on the Big Time Rush Tour, they dropped Up All Night in March, one week earlier than expected due to all the enthusiasm around it. They set a record, becoming the first U.K. act to have their album debut at #1 on the Billboard chart.

Propelled, in part, by the beachy, sunny charm of their VMA-nominated "What Makes You Beautiful" video, the five guys of One Direction — Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik, Harry Styles and Niall Horan — are now certifiable heartthrobs here in the U.S., and all around the world for that matter, where they are frequently greeted by throngs of adoring fans just hankering for the chance to meet them.

"We were trying to drive away. [Fans] were running through traffic," Horan told MTV News about a stop in New York City back in March. "It was literally like something you'd see in a movie."

At the forefront of the 2012, the boy-band revival stormed the small screen in the spring with massive and buzzy TV performances and appearances, including stops on "iCarly," "Saturday Night Live" and the Kids' Choice Awards.

The fivesome continued to walk the road to VMA-nominated glory when they toured the states all summer bringing their bubbly pop tunes to passionate crowds across the country.

"It's been, as you can see clearly, it's been absolutely nuts. We're still trying to get our heads around it," Horan shared about the tour in June as they neared the tour's end. "It's been crazy. We've had a lot of fun ... we're doing these things called sheds, so they're outside and inside. There are like 20,000 people on an outdoor gig and they're really good to do. They're really fun. It's really warm outside and the crowds, they're amazing."

Once their time on the road wrapped up, the buzz around the guys continued to hum and vibrate. They hit the studio with the likes of Ed Sheeran and others to work on their November sophomore release, which will feature the lead single "Live While We're Young," dropping in October.

In the midst of all that, in July right before they took the stage at the Olympics Closing Ceremony, the guys found out they were nominated for not one, but two VMAs (Best Pop Video and Best New Artist). Proving that while relatively new to pop music, they have become so popular they will not only hit the carpet as nominees, but also as performers. They promise that their highly anticipated performance is all about the fans.

The VMA rookies are now ready to use the VMAs as their time to shine. "We're really looking forward to the VMAs," Payne said when the nominations and performance were announced. "It's quite nerve-racking as well, because obviously there's been so many historical moments and stuff that have happened at the VMAs. Now we want to make a moment ourselves, but who knows?"

Before they take the stage at the Staples Center for the VMAs on September 6, they will prepare themselves for their star-making turn at the VMAs by hosting "One Direction: My First Time" on Thursday. Airing at 11 p.m. ET/PT on MTV, it will not only feature their preparations for the big show, but also the most memorable VMA performances of all time.

The special will use advice from past performers including Green Day and Taylor Swift. Hopefully the guys can use some of that stage wisdom for their debut on the 2012 MTV Video Music Awards. "I think performing at the VMAs is such a huge occasion," Payne said. "I think it ranks up there with one of the best performances we'll do so far."