I feel like I have a very trustworthy and respected voice when it comes to discussing all things One Direction. I have been in this Directioner business for a long time now, since the late hours of 2011. Yes, it’s been a long road traveling with these crazy boys and the even crazier fans who follow them, but I’m now left with authority on the subject of One Direction as well as a vague shred of my dignity.
I'm a little biased because Louis was always my least favorite of the band (if any Directioner told you they didn't play favorites, they're a bold faced liar). Something about him just rubs me the wrong way, and thus his solo career is tainted in my eyes. I really hated that he opened with a single so heavy with features that it felt like he was trying too hard. If it isn't evident, it's hard to sway me once I make up my mind.
Zayn is like the Donnie Wahlberg of 1D: we all care a lot more about his love life than his solo career. Is he modeling in Vogue and looking absolutely spectacular? Yes and yes. BUT he’s modeling with beau Gigi Hadid which makes millions around the world swoon and tag the pair as #goals. Regardless of if he was the first of the five to release solo music, we’re not really going out of our way to play "Mind of Mine" on repeat; however, the new Vogue issue, despite being problematic, shows that whether or not we’re still listening to “Pillowtalk”, Zayn is doing just fine on his own.
Liam was originally behind Zayn, seeing as Zayn released one of the top songs in 2017 and Liam didn't. However, Liam came out with his own song for a Fifty Shades movie, and it’s kind of better than “I Don’t Want to Live Forever”. Plus, he has a child I actually care about, and the honor of being third on this specific list instead of fourth does a lot to keep Liam in the public’s good graces, and thus employable enough to support his newly expanded family.
Niall has grown up so much since leaving One Direction and I really have to hand it to him. He’s let his natural hair grow out, he's gotten even more aggressively into golf, and is doing bizarre stuff like this:
He's really doing nothing wrong nowadays and remains One Direction's Unproblematic Fav. Because of this, I just can't say anything bad or find a reason to rank him any lower.
There are not many performers whose show I would buy tickets for exactly a year before the show was actually set to take place. Yet, I found myself inexplicably using my work laptop in June 2017 to purchase tickets for a Harry Styles concert in June 2018.
There are not many performers who I would do this for, nor are there any others besides Harry on this list who I would do this for. For that reason alone, he should be top. But oh wait, there is so much more.
Harry's album is the least mainstream of them all, but the most fitting for his persona. Sure, you could argue that "Mind of Mine" was far more suited for Zayn's style than anything One Direction created was, but it as still far more mainstream than Harry Styles.
Not only has this sweet son of every 2000's tween girl's dreams gifted us with a Rolling Stone article, in which he defends the honor of female teenage fans across the world, he has the talent, the versatility, the artistic durability to play a critical role in a Christopher Nolan movie about war. Had Harry simply starred in a Hallmark movie, even a Disney funded film, we might have scoffed at him and his silly little acting endeavors.
But Harry answered the age-old question, "Which member of One Direction will be the Justin Timberlake?" by taking on a testing dramatic role. Why this man was not nominated for an Oscar, nay- a Golden Globe, NAY- a minute and remote artistic integrity award, the world may never know. But as consolation, he has the utmost honor of ranking first on this definitive list.