What Direction Will One Direction Take?

What Direction Will One Direction Take?

Emily Hahn

Nick Carter, a former Backsteet Boy, was arrested at a Florida bar on January 13 for allegedly choking a bouncer while intoxicated. This wasn’t the first time the boy band member had trouble with the law. With a long history of alcohol and drug abuse, he was arrested in 2002 for resisting arrest at a Florida nightclub, and again in 2005 for drunk driving in California. He has also been accused of beating up his ex-girlfriend Paris Hilton in 2004.

The turbulent life of Nick Carter seems typical of many other celebrities who gained fame during childhood. While recently competing on Dancing With The Stars, where he finished in second place, he appeared to have his life in order, being recently married and expecting his first child. However, only months after the finale aired in November 2015, Carter was arrested again.

If Nick Carter’s life is typical of a very successful boy band member, could we use the events in his life to predict a troubled future for current members of other boy bands such as One Direction? To answer this question, we must see if there is a pattern among the past boy band members.

First we must define which acts qualify as a “boy band”. If we are looking for bands that are similar to One Direction, the members must have been put together through an audition, not play instruments, not write music, and sing pop songs. They must also be extremely popular and successful, especially in the United States. Using these criteria, three bands come to mind: Backstreet Boys, New Kids On The Block (NKTOB), and NSYNC. If we look to see what happened to the fifteen members of these three bands, and discover a pattern, maybe we can use the information to predict what will happen to the members of One Direction.

The ages of the current and ex-members of the three boy bands range from 34 (Justin Timberlake of NSYNC) to 47 (Jonathan Knight of NKOTB). Currently, 11 are married, two are divorced, and two are single. Two members are gay, and ten members have children of their own. Considering their age, sexual orientation, and family situations, the boy band members do not seem much different than average Americans. Using this data, we can try to predict what may happen to the members of One Direction. 20 years from now, it’s likely that most (87%) would have been married, and most would be fathers (67%). If I had to predict which member would still be single, it’d be Harry Styles; any guy linked to Taylor Swift seems to have trouble settling down.

In terms of previous arrest records–aside from Nick Carter–the only other member of the three popular boy bands who has been arrested was Donnie Wahlberg of NKOTB. In 1991, when he was 21 years old, Mark Wahlberg’s older brother was arrested for arson when he poured vodka on a hotel hallway carpet and set it afire. But, like Nick Carter, he has never spent time in prison. The only other person in this group with serious personal problems is A.J. McLean of the Backstreet Boys, who suffered from alcohol and drug addiction and spent time in rehab.

20% of the members of the three previous boy bands have been either arrested or been in rehab, which would suggest that one of the five One Direction members could share a similar fate. None of the guys from One Direction seem to have serious personal problems, but if I had to pick one as someone in danger, it’d be Zayn Malik, who recently quit the band, smokes marijuana, and is known to be mischievous.

Nine of the 15 “boys” have come out with at least one solo album. Three of these singers (Nick Carter, Jordan Knight of NKOTB, and Joey McIntyre of NKOTB) have had one gold album each, meaning their albums sold between 500,000 and 1 million copies. And Justin Timberlake has made 4 platinum albums (selling more than 1 million copies), with a total of almost 30 million albums sold. In comparison, the Backstreet Boys have sold about 100 million albums, NKOTB about 80 million, NSYNC about 55 million, and One Direction about 20 million.

Considering that Timberlake is the only one of the 15 previous boy band singers to have major success as a solo artist, it is probably wise for One Direction to stay together as long as possible. It is unlikely Zayn Malik’s upcoming solo album will be successful, considering past results, and he will probably seriously regret having left the band. But if I had to pick one potential solo star from One Direction, it’d be Styles; he seems to be the most talented and charismatic of the bunch.

If you look at other forms of entertainment, most of the members of the three boy bands have made appearances in either movies or television. In films, Justin Timberlake is again the most successful artist, having starred in more than 10 popular movies including The Social Network, Bad Teacher, and Friends with Benefits. He has also appeared 15 times on Saturday Night Live. Donnie Wahlberg has also had a successful acting career, having appeared in numerous movies and TV dramas; he is currently starring in the TV drama Blue Bloods. The other 13 singers have had much little success as actors.

It’s difficult to predict which of the One Direction members may have an acting career in the future. Aside from guest appearances on TV shows like iCarly, One Direction has only “acted” in their music videos. Their skit prior to the video for “Best Song Ever” was pretty good.  Louis Tomlinson probably had the best performance, as he spoke with a believable American accent.

An area where boy band members have found some success in the past is on Dancing With The Stars. Aside from Nick Carter’s second place finish in season 21, Joey Fatone of NSYNC came in second in season four, Lance Bass from NSYNC finished third in season seven, and Joey McIntyre finished third in the first season. Although no one brought home the coveted mirror ball trophy, a member of each of the three successful boy bands has reached at least third place.

As far as future success on Dancing With the Stars, only the most popular of the former boy band singers get chosen to participate. Assuming that Styles is busy producing platinum albums, making movies, and dating supermodels, I believe that Niall Horan is a possible future contestant on the celebrity dancing show. The only problem I see is that there is a big difference between the older boy bands and One Direction. Members of NKOTB, Backstreet Boys, and NSYNC were not only singers, but also dancers. One Direction members were former contestants on the British televised singing competition The X-Factor, where dancing skills were not judged. One Direction is not known for synchronized choreography, and it is hard to imagine any one of them excelling in a dance competition.

I believe the future for the remaining One Direction member Liam Payne as well as the ex-member Malik is even bleaker. They may not even qualify for shows for D-list celebrities like Dancing With the Stars. When they are in there forties, their only hope for a paycheck may be a reunion tour like the recent ones featuring The Backstreet Boys and NKOTB. They have to hope that Styles doesn’t become as famous as Timberlake, because then they would be like NSYNC members today: in a band without their star and no reunion tour. But if there is a reunion tour in 2036, I may have no choice but to attend!