If you believe what’s spinning around in the rumor mill — again — Harry Styles might soon pull a Justin Timberlake and go solo from One Direction.
But that rumor has since been refuted by the group’s rep as “complete nonsense.” As an early breakout star of the group, Styles seems like the go-to 1D singer when it comes to speculating about who might go solo first… and this isn’t the first time.
In an interview with Barbara Walters in December 2012, she asked the group if they ever had plans to go solo, even name-checking Timberlake and N’SYNC. While Styles never explicitly answered the question, his bandmates did. Zayn Malik said, “No way. It’s not even, like, a question. We’d just be like, ‘No, I’m not doing it.’ ”
In April 2013, just one month after Liam Payne denied he had plans to go solo, Harry became the subject of the same rumor. It was speculated that he had been recording without his bandmates. But, it was quickly debunked by the band’s rep, who said, “The boys sometimes work up ideas separately as well as working together, as they did last year.”
By June, Styles was back on the gossip pages when “Don’t Let Me Go,” a track featuring only him, leaked onto the Internet. Not long after the track went viral, 1D’s team made it clear that it was just a demo that never made it on to a 1D album.
One month later, fans were left wondering once again when Styles started working with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody. As it turns out, that too was a recording session for 1D.
Timberlake has become the gold standard for a boy-band career. Before breaking up, the buzz around Timberlake also was loud, but not as frenzied. It was a time when the Internet wasn’t the playground for gossip as it is today. After N’SYNC went on hiatus in 2002, Timberlake quickly established himself as one of pop’s shiniest stars with the release of his 2002 solo album, Justified.
Given how often the rumor keeps popping up and being refuted, it’s safe to say that the world might be trying to find their new Timberlake. But, Harry isn’t volunteering; he has plenty to keep him busy with until the next rumor pops up again.