One Direction have been in Mexico doing a press conference as they prepare to film a television appearance tomorrow. Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan appeared in high spirits as they answered reporters’ questions, shooting cheery grins and thumbs-up gestures at the gathered journalists, standing on chairs in an effort to appear larger-than-life for the next crop of Getty Images press shots, and informing each other about the location of rolling cameras (check out the way Louis Tomlinson’s eyes shoot to the side at 19:55 when Liam Payne alerts him about the presence of a cameraman to their far-right).
There is also an adorable moment when Irishman Niall Horan lifts his phone to take a picture of the gathered Latino crowd and Harry Styles pauses to alert him about his climbing shirt (while Niall’s body is hidden behind the desk — which was emblazoned with the title of new One Direction album Made In The AM — Harry makes his concern clear by tapping his blonde band-mate on the midsection).
Niall also appeared to be conscious of his abs and shirt when One Direction appeared on The Jonathan Ross Show recently. Perhaps the bespectacled One Direction member has beefed up in recent weeks and has yet to upsize his wardrobe.
Both interviews were revealing — or as revealing as One Direction get. Jonathan Ross guest Michael McIntyre goes on an extraordinary rant castigating Ross for his naivete in expecting “media-trained megastars” like One Direction to reveal anything naughty or scandalous. McIntyre humorously co-opts Irishman Niall’s accent and concocts an elaborate, debauched scenario where a pot-smoking Niall has some orgiastic fun in an airplane toilet.
Harry Styles reveals just how careful and “media-trained” the One Direction guys are when he is asked about his ex Taylor Swift and whether recent One Direction hit “Perfect” was about her (19:47).
Harry immediately comes off as disingenuous when he claims he was “not aware” of the speculation that “Perfect” is about Taylor. He goes on to say:
“Because I’m a media-trained person I would say that everyone writes from personal experience. And you draw from lots of different things and songs aren’t always necessarily what people take them to be about.”
Ross presses Harry for more detail, but the curly-haired heartthrob simply repeats his original thoughts about the disorganized and dreamlike way songs come together, incorporating myriad experiences, feelings and influences rather than just one. Styles’ follow-up response comes across as so rehearsed that Ross declares “I think that’s almost word-perfect the first answer you gave me.”
A highlight of the Mexico press conference was definitely Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinsons’ remarks about ex-bandmate Zayn Malik (watch an edited clip with Harry and Louis’ comments below).
Inscrutable Harry revealed more than he usually does, admitting that “there was a lot going on” when the creation of One Direction’s Made In The AM started in early 2015. Harry is obviously referring to Zayn’s departure, but also probably to Louis Tomlinson’s discovery that he had impregnated casual fling Briana Jungwirth, cheating rumors plaguing both Zayn Malik and Louis Tomlinson (who subsequently split with their respective partners Perrie Edwards and Eleanor Calder), and perhaps even to manager Simon Cowell’s shock marriage to Lauren Silverman, with whom he now has a son (Cowell reportedly pinched the brunette from his best friend, as reported by The Mirror, and became embroiled in messy legal proceedings as Silverman’s divorce from cuckolded Andrew Silver drew on). This was also around the time Leona Lewis was battling with Cowell over her career direction at the beleaguered Syco label (unhappy songbird and former X-Factor winner Lewis left Cowell’s label in August, as reported by CMU, meaning that Cowell lost two key artists in the space of a few months).
Harry put a positive spin on the fraught time, insisting that it strengthened their resolve to make a great album and prodded the remaining members to reaffirm their commitment to One Direction.
“Obviously there was a lot going on at the time but I think the main thing that it gave us was a common ground that we all knew we wanted to make the best record we’d made. We kind of set out with the same goal, which was amazing – to have that refocus.”
Zayn Malik subsequently revealed to Fader magazine the extent to which he felt stifled as part of Simon Cowell’s One Direction machine.
“There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band. If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as fuck, so they could use that version.”
R&B-loving Zayn was clearly not happy with the direction that experimentation within One Direction was taking. While there was indeed a move away from generic “bubblegum” pop, beginning with 2013’s Midnight Memories, the new elements drew more from 70s rock than the urban sound that Malik loves.
Louis Tomlinson paints the loss of displeased Zayn as a loss of dead weight, asserting that “while adjustments had to be made” the group is “better off and more passionate” following the departure of the hip-hop loving Bradford native, whose R&B licks and Usher/Craig David vocal stylings will hopefully find a more suitable home on his new label.
Is One Direction better off without Zayn Malik? Will media-trained Harry Styles ever give a straight answer in an interview?
[Image by AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo]