When One Direction announced their hiatus last year, each member pledged to focus on his own individual projects. Fast-forward to now, and they’ve made good on that promise by using 2016 as a “building year” to lay the groundwork for their solo breakthroughs.
Though Niall Horan’s recently assured fans that the group’s break is only temporary, it’s clear that he, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson have big, 1D-less plans in the pipeline. (In other words, don’t expect a reunion anytime soon.) As the year draws to a close, let’s look back at everything each of the guys did in 2016, from scoring solo record deals to becoming first-time fathers.
Harry wasted no time cutting ties with 1D’s Modest! Management and teaming up with high-profile manager Jeff Azoff. Shockingly, his first big solo news had nothing to do with music — in March, it was announced that he’d be making his feature-film acting debut in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. The war drama doesn’t hit theaters until July 2017, but anticipation is already sky-high, especially after Harry cut off his curly locks for the role.
Fans saw the full scope of Harry’s new ’do in September, when he landed his first solo mag cover on Another Man. Actually, there were three covers and about a billion pages of photos, which Harry celebrated at a fancy shindig where he wore black nail polish (!).
But don’t worry, fans of Harry’s angelic singing voice — he’s also plotting his solo music career. In June, Billboard reported that he had inked a solo deal with Columbia Records, the same label responsible for putting out 1D’s albums. We also got a taste of his songwriting prowess when “Someday,” a dreamy tune he wrote with Meghan Trainor, appeared on Michael Bublé’s latest album.
Liam kicked off his year on a transformational note, debuting a fresh buzzcut and a giant tattoo of a clock. He also stepped out with his girlfriend, Cheryl, for the first time in March, giving longtime 1D fans major X Factor flashbacks.
It wasn’t long before Liam returned to the studio and started making moves on the music front. In April, he teamed up with Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa for the smooth collab “You,” and over the summer, he revealed he was officially going solo. In October, he confirmed that he had inked a North American deal with Republic Records and then ramped up excitement with several studio updates. He says he’s “hard at work” on his music, and he even teased a collaboration with Pharrell.
As if all that wasn’t exciting enough, Liam and Cheryl are now reportedly expecting their first child, making him the second 1D member to become a dad. Which brings us to...
Professionally, Louis had the most low-key year of all the 1D guys, which makes sense considering that he kicked off 2016 by welcoming a baby boy, Freddie Reign. He and Freddie’s mom, Briana Jungwirth, hit a rough patch over the summer when news broke that Louis was seeking joint custody of their son, but his family drama has thankfully remained out of the headlines since then.
Outside of his daddy duties, Louis reunited with Simon Cowell for a stint as a guest judge on America’s Got Talent in July. He reportedly has plans to start a girl group via his own imprint on Cowell’s label, Syco Entertainment, though no concrete details have emerged. Louis was also part of two mini 1D reunions this year: when he and Liam attended the BRIT Awards in February, and when he and Niall faced off during Soccer Aid’s charity football match in June (Louis’s team won, for what it’s worth).
To the surprise of many 1D fans, Niall was the first member to release a proper solo song — but it took a while to get there. During the first three months of 1D’s hiatus, Niall went on a budget-friendly backpacking trip around the world, as he told Graham Norton. During the next few months, he mostly focused on his burgeoning passion for sports. In February, he opened a golfing management company called Modest Golf, and he even landed his first solo magazine cover on Today’s Golfer in July.
There were a couple times during the year that made it seem like Niall was completely over fame — like when he ranted about fan abuse or when he called out a fan who took a pic of him sleeping. But if you thought the Irishman was dipping out of the limelight for good, he quickly squashed any doubts by launching his solo career. In September, he dropped the sweet, strummy “This Town” and announced that he had inked a deal with Capitol Records. He also performed at the American Music Awards in November, where he briefly reunited with former bandmate Zayn Malik and ramped up collaboration rumors with Shawn Mendes by duetting with him backstage.