How One Direction Became The Princes Of Pop: A Look Back

Direction Infection hit Stateside in 2012 and it was contagious.

It's not easy to explain unless you're in it.

It's what Beatles' fans called Beatlemania, what Justin Bieber supporters refer to as Bieber Fever and what any lover of One DirectionMTV's Best Artist of the Year — knows as Direction Infection. There's nothing wrong with it; it's not really a disease. In fact, the Infection is probably the healthiest obsession out there. But how do you describe it to people who aren't Directioners themselves?

The Infection is the feeling you get with you hear the flawless blending of those five voices, or the feeling you get when you watch their quirky "Live While We're Young" video, while they groove to their signature rowboat move or bop each other with giant blow-up fruit. It's the feeling you get when you see Harry, Louis, Niall, Zayn and Liam perform on the "Today" show, live and in front of your eyes, displaying their oh-so adorable dimples, carefully ironed blazers and retro suspenders (it's not like you camped out all weekend for it or anything). It's the feeling you get after engraving your binder with a fresh "Future Mrs. Payne" doodle.

So in a year where we saw boy bands new and old making headlines, the Infection pretty much sums up why 1D became veritable princes of pop music. After all, the New Kids on the Block played an epic NKOTBSB finale with the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees surprised fans with a boy-band collabo onstage, the Jonas Brothers played their reunion show and the second British Invasion introduced us to the Wanted. But nevertheless, all our eyes were on One Direction.

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2012 saw 1D steadily and surely ramping up their success in the States. The guys released two #1 albums within seven months, becoming the first British group to top the Billboard charts with their debut Up All Night and Take Me Home. They gathered up an armful of accolades at the MTV Video Music Awards and Teen Choice Awards, where they also played their swoonworthy hits. Niall got a kiss from Katy Perry, Harry won the hand of Taylor Swift and Zayn made everyone jealous with girlfriend Perrie Edwards. They stormed the U.S. with a giant tour, sold out Madison Square Garden, met the Queen (!!) and even closed out the 2012 Olympics.

In short, they were everywhere. Oh yeah, and did we mention they're cute?

And to top it all off, 1D closed out the year by adding another piece of hardware to their already bulging trophy cases with their Best Artist of 2012 title from MTV. We're not saying they're the next Beatles (although it would be interesting to see the guys go through a Hare Krishna phase), but One Direction has us screaming, fainting and chasing them down the street. It's clear the Infection has spread. One Direction is contagious.