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One Direction

The definitive ranking of each One Direction member's first X Factor audition

It’s funny how things ended up.

X Factor PA Archive / PA Images PA Archive / PA Images / PA Images

THIS YEAR’S SERIES of The X Factor is well underway now, but few people are convinced that it’ll ever create pop-stars like One Direction again.

It has been eight years since the TV show put these lads together in a boyband, and a lot has happened since. One of the members of One Direction even has a child with one of the judges who let him through. 

Here’s a look back at their old auditions, and a ranking from worst to best. 

5. Louis Tomlinson

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This is just a deeply uncomfortable video to watch. The singing wasn’t great but it’s not the worst thing about the video. The worst thing is Louis attempting to turn the charm up, and coming off like a boy in an American teen rom-com. But hey, it worked for him in the end. The judges were either in a great mood that day, or had a plan for him before he walked out on the stage.

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4. Zayn Malik 

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Zayn’s audition wasn’t a massive deal at the time. He didn’t seem to make any impact on the judges with his personality, and the whole thing was so rushed that it was like his mam was parked outside and told him he could run in for a minute to audition but she has to be at the hairdressers in twenty minutes, so he needs to make it quick. 

Singing ‘Let Me Love You’ by Mario, he just about managed to get through. 

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3. Niall Horan 

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At the age of sixteen, Niall Horan showed up to the X Factor looking like he got his highlights done off of the same person who did his mam’s hair.

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Nevertheless, the Mullingar teen managed to charm Katy Perry and was called ‘the Irish Justin Bieber’ by Louis Walsh before he began to sing. Niall listed off some of his biggest dreams:

I wanna be a big name in the world like Beyoncé, and Justin Bieber is the perfect example. I’ve been compared to him a few times. It’s not a bad comparison. I want to sell out arenas and make an album and work with some of the best artists in the world.

However, Niall’s voice didn’t really impress the judges. Singing ‘So Sick’ by Ne-Yo, the teenager’s performance was cut short, and he was told he needed to put in some work. Simon called him “unprepared” and said he came with the wrong song and “you’re not as good as you thought you were”, but Niall got through anyway. 

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And look at him now! He has achieved all of those dreams and more. It’s amazing what a bit of vocal coaching can do.

2. Harry Styles 

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When Harry Styles auditioned for X Factor back in 2010, he was already exuding charisma and charm. It’s a wonder he hadn’t starred in one of those awkward UK romantic comedies like Angus Thongs and Perfect Snogging, because he was basically the male character from every one of those movies. 

Harry sang ‘Isn’t She Lovely’ by Stevie Wonder with no backing track and the judges were all over it. His voice was obviously nowhere near as good as it is today, but as far as X Factor auditions go, this was pretty good.

Nicole Scherzinger told him that for “16 years old, he has a beautiful voice.” Simon Cowell said that with vocal coaching, Harry could be “very good”. Louis Walsh said ‘No’, and was met with thousands of boos from the audience. 

The X Factor UK / YouTube

1. Liam Payne 

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Technically, this isn’t Liam’s first audition, but it was the audition that got him into One Direction. At 16 years old, he sang Arthur Hamilton’s ‘Cry Me A River’, and basically just sounded like Michael Buble. 

This is also the first time Liam gets to meet Cheryl Cole, a woman who would later be the mother of his first child. Cheryl was just as impressed as the other judges, and Simon said “He wasn’t quite ready when he came to my house two years ago, but I said to him then, ‘Come back in two years time and you’re gonna be a different person’. I got it right.” Unlike Harry Styles, Liam got a solid ‘Yes’ from each judge. 

The X Factor UK / YouTube

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