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Top of the Pops

One Direction make US history with chart-topping album

The X Factor boys sell 176,000 copies of their album ‘Up All Night’ – becoming the first band from the UK to enter at number 1 with a debut album.

NOT EVEN THE BEATLES ever managed to top the US album charts with their first album – but a group of teenagers, including one lad from Mullingar, have managed to make music history by doing just that.

X Factor band One Direction have topped the Billboard Top 200 albums chart with their debut album ‘Up All Night’, selling over 176,000 copies of the album to stop Adele’s ’21′ from returning to the top.

They overtake Bruce Springsteen’s new album ‘Wrecking Ball’, which had sold 196,000 copies the previous week.

Their chart success – making them the first British-based act ever to enter the charts at number one with a debut album – followed the success of their hit single ‘What Makes You Beautiful’, which entered the charts at number 28 a month ago.

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In both cases, the most successful UK act to precede the band were the Spice Girls – with Billboard reporting that their debut single, ‘Wannabe’, had entered the charts at number 11 some 15 years ago.

Even the Spice Girls, however, had not claimed an immediate number 1 with their debt album – ‘Spice’ only made it to number 6 in February 1997.

Niall Horan, from Mullingar in Co Westmeath, was in a taxi when he learned of his success – and did what any 18-year-old would do: “I freaked out.”

He immediately started spreading the news with phone calls, but wanted to keep the news from his mother to play a prank on her.

“I wanted to say we had lost out and that whole thing, but Billboard had posted it on their website so my cover was blown,” he told AP yesterday.

Bandmate Harry Styles called the news “humbling”, adding: “We’re just five normal boys from the UK who’ve been given this opportunity, so we’re having a great time working very hard.”

Social media input

The fans of One Direction have been hard at work as well. Thanks to social media, the group’s followers have helped to spread the word about their music.

“It’s played a massive part,” said Styles. “Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been a large percentage of the reason we’ve been known outside of the UK… We owe a massive thank you to the fans.”

“Whenever you ask anyone how they know about us, it’s always Twitter or Tumblr or something like that,” added 20-year-old Louis Tomlinson.

The success of One Direction and other groups like Big Time Rush has led industry watchers to believe the boy band is making a comeback, and the guys are proud to wear that “boy band” tag.

“There’s nothing wrong with it,” says Niall. “We are boys in a band… People have it in their head that a boy band, that it’s everyone wearing white and sitting on stage. That’s one side of it. We’re trying to do something else.”

The band’s success is a further string in the bow of pop impresario Simon Cowell, who put them together after the five members – also including Zayn Malik and Liam Payne – auditioned unsuccessfully for as solo acts.

The group ended up in third place in the 2010 series of The X Factor, and Cowell signed them to his Syco music label, a division of Sony.

Cowell said the group’s success so far makes him feel very proud.

“I desperately wanted (a No. 1 record) for the boys more than anything else,” he said. “I’m probably more excited about this than I have been about anything for a long, long time.”

Niall’s father Bobby, speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, said the success was “surreal”, and paid tribute to his son’s work rate, explaining that he had essentially emigrated some 18 months ago.

“I would have not have even, up to a year and a half ago, understood what is required to make a record… the hours are gruelling. He’s up every morning at 7 o’clock and might not get to bed until 11… it’s work, work, work.”

- Additional reporting by Alicia Rancilio, AP