The end looks nigh for One Direction.
The sound of weeping teenage girls can be heard all over the globe as the group announced they are to take at least a year's break to pursue solo projects after the release of their fifth album.
Don't know what the hype is all about? Whisper it quietly, but, much as Take That improved over the years just before splitting (for the first time), One Direction's last two albums saw a distinct move towards seriously well-written pop music that the modern man could enjoy just as much as any teenage fan.
In tribute to the guys, and to get you up to speed on exactly what you've been missing out on all this time, ShortList's Dave Fawbert takes you through the band's top five songs to listen to (on your headphones).
What Makes You Beautiful
The song that kicked it all off, and there's no doubt about it - this is a 24-carat straight-up pop banger. Produced and written by the Swedish trio of Rami Yacoub, Carl Falk and Savan Kotecha, this featured punky guitars, a general peak-era Backstreet Boys vibe and a giant pop chorus. They even managed to avoid the temptation to stick in a cheesy key change, something we can't imagine Simon Cowell was happy about. This, perhaps more than any other song, is what propelled them from X Factor 3rd place also-rans to the giant stadium-fillers they eventually became.
Story Of My Life
After two albums of straight-up bubblegum pop, this was the moment where One Direction tackled the inevitable 'growing up' thing that boybands eventually have to do with their sound. Shamelessly ripping off Mumford & Sons (but thankfully leaving out the banjos), this was nonetheless a classy piece of work which yet again, staggeringly, managed to avoid the seemingly inevitable key change towards the end. Co-written by the band themselves, if Van Morrison released this we'd all be declaring it a classic.
The rule, as Pharrell and Robin Thicke know all too well, is that if you're going to rip off a song, make sure you rip off a great song. And to this day, we're still staggered that Yazoo, Depeche Mode and Erasure legend Vince Clarke hasn't been on the phone to his lawyers about One Direction's Night Changes 'bearing an uncanny similarity to' his song Only You. Fortunately for us, Only You is an incredible song and, therefore, so is Night Changes. Restrained production, quality vocal performances and thoughtful lyrics: what more could you want? Oh, and there actually is a key change on this one - and it's cleverly positioned, rather than being the usual third chorus at the end when we've run out of ideas job. Well done all round lads (and Vince).
Steal My Girl
By the time of their current album, Four, One Direction were a stadium-filling concern, so it was high time they had themselves a proper stadium anthem: and Steal My Girl is it. Aping the piano lines of Journey's Don't Stop Believin' (not a bad place to start), adding in a huge everybody-get-your-hands-in-the-air drum beat, and garnished with one of the best choruses of recent times, this is, quite simply, a fantastic song. Mixed with a satisfying amount of low end, this is pop with balls. If that wasn't enough, they got Danny DeVito in for the video. A massive guitar solo would have completed the recipe but maybe Slash was busy that day.
No, don't worry, this wasn't an ill-advised cover of the Muse classic, but perhaps a glimpse to the future. Tucked away at the number 11 position on Four, this featured a single band member co-writing credit in the form of Harry Styles. It's a quality piece of driving, relentless electronica with some nifty palm mute guitar work - not a million miles away from Tears For Fears' incredible Everybody Wants To Rule The World; if Harry's inevitable solo record sounds like this, it certainly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.