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Why 2015 Was The Best And Worst Year To Be A Directioner

This year was one hell of a roller coaster for One Direction and their fans.

If you’ve ever been to a One Direction show, you surely know that the guys f—king adore their fans.

Onstage, Harry, Liam, Louis and Niall constantly praise their Girl Almightys, telling them how beautiful they are and how much their support is appreciated. It’s ultimately what makes 1D concerts so special — stadiums and arenas all over the world have been transformed into safe spaces for fans to uninhibitedly enjoy the music they love by the guys who love them back.

That’s why, if you made it through the past 12 months as a devout Directioner, you should know this: You’re stronger than you seem, and the band surely appreciates you for it. Because it’s no secret that this year was one hell of a roller coaster that tested even the strongest fans’ commitment.

The year began innocently enough. In fact, the first two months of 2015 were exciting and mostly drama-free, as the band kicked off its On The Road Again Tour, continuing to tout 2014’s Four while also keeping it fresh with some setlist tweaks. It wasn’t until March when things started to shake up in the most shocking way. And from there, it was a topsy-turvy ride that separated the fair-weather followers from the diehards, but also managed to adopt new fans who latched onto 1D’s ever-maturing sound.

With their hiatus officially underway, let’s reflect on the most dramatic and transformative year in One Direction’s history (suggested musical accompaniment here).

  • The Curious Case of Zayn Malik
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    On March 19, 1D’s “Bradford bad boy,” Zayn, quit the tour, reportedly due to stress. Six days later, the band confirmed Zayn had left the group permanently. He said in a statement, “I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” In his first post-split interview a couple days later, Zayn told The Sun, “I feel like I’m doing what’s right — right by myself and right by the boys, so I feel good.”

    The four remaining members said in a separate Sun interview that they were “gutted” by Zayn’s decision, but insisted they have “so much more [they] still want to achieve.” Despite putting on an optimistic front, though, tensions built in early May when Louis Tomlinson mocked Zayn and his producer bud Naughty Boy for posting filtered Macbook photos. From there, the beef exploded all over Twitter, but the focus soon (thankfully) turned back to music.

  • Prepping 1D’s New Era
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    The guys made their first official public appearance as a foursome on James Corden’s “The Late Late Show” on May 14, where they confirmed they’d be releasing a fifth album. In a mature move likely designed to assure fans the band is moving forward drama-free, Liam Payne gave Zayn a sweet shoutout during their acceptance speech at the Billboard Music Awards later that month: “There’s one more person to share this with, and that’s our brother Zayn.”

  • Nobody Can Drag Them Down
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    In July, fans celebrated the band’s five-year anniversary, and the guys kicked off the North American leg of their On The Road Again tour in San Diego (where Harry Styles infamously took that onstage tumble seen ‘round the world. #OhNoHarry).

    Things seemed to be looking up for 1D, but on July 14, news broke that Louis is expecting a child with L.A.-based stylist Briana Jungwirth (he later confirmed the news on “Good Morning America”). While Larry shippers were grieving the blow, Zayn returned to the headlines by announcing he’d signed a solo record deal with RCA and saying he’s excited to show fans the “real” him.

    But two days later, on July 31, 1D officially ushered in their new era by surprise-releasing their first post-Zayn single, “Drag Me Down.” A NASA-themed music video followed three weeks later.

  • Hiatus News Hits + Off The Road Again
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    On Aug. 23, reports started circulating that the band would take a hiatus in 2016. The guys confirmed the hiatus the next day, with Niall Horan tweeting, “We are not splitting up, but we will be taking a well earned break at some point next year.” The next month, they announced the title of their fifth album, Made In The A.M., accompanied by the release of a new ballad, “Infinity.”

    The end of October was an emotional series of highs and lows for 1D and their fans. On Oct. 20, the guys cancelled their On The Road Again tour date in Belfast, Ireland — the first-ever show the band had called off. The decision was reportedly spurred by Liam's split from longtime girlfriend Sophia Smith (which, following Louis’ breakup with Eleanor Calder a few months prior, meant all four members were publicly single for the first time in a long time).

    But the band immediately alleviated the disappointment by releasing the dreamy black-and-white music video for the second MITAM single, “Perfect.” Two days later, the four-song Perfect EP was released, featuring MITAM reject “Home,” as well as two new versions of “Perfect” and a Liam Payne-remixed “Drag Me Down.”

    On Oct. 31, the On The Road Again Tour came to an exhilarating close with 1D’s final show, in Sheffield, England. It was emotional, to say the least.

  • Made In The A.M. + Celebrating Their ‘History’
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    1D’s fifth album, Made In The A.M., arrived in fans’ hands on Nov. 13. Much to-do was made over the shared release date with Justin Bieber’s Purpose, which ended up outselling MITAM on the Billboard 200 chart. Even so, 1D hit a high at the American Music Awards the following week, snagging the coveted trophies for Artist of the Year and Favorite Band, Duo or Group - Pop Rock.

    On Dec. 5, One Direction gave their last, rousing U.S. performance at KIIS FM’s Jingle Ball in Los Angeles, promising they’ll “be back very soon.” A week later, they returned to the British stage for the final performance before their hiatus. They appropriately sang the feel-good farewell jam “History,” announcing that it would replace “Infinity” as their third MITAM single.

    Since then, 1D have officially been on hiatus, but we’ve gotten glimpses of them here and there. Last week, for example, we (kind of) got a music video for fan favorite track “No Control” with a totally charming “Carpool Karaoke” video on “The Late Late Show” (during which James Corden also made a convincing case for becoming the band’s fifth member). And the guys seem to be in good spirits, preparing for a low-key 2016 that’s sure to be filled with relaxation, family time and possible solo endeavors.

    And you know what? One Direction deserve that. Being a fan of this band means loving each of the guys individually. Taking a break and doing their own things will show everyone a side of Harry, Liam, Louis and Niall that we haven’t seen before. It’s exciting, if you learn to stop worrying and love the break. Repeat after them: “This is not the end, this is not the end.”