One Direction Say Goodbye — ‘Five Of The Nicest Guys I’ve Ever Met’

One Direction

One Direction gave their final performance on the X Factor stage last night. Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan will go on hiatus after five grueling years that saw them releasing an album and handful of videos every year, and embarking on an annual world tour that has left the British five-piece (now four-piece following the departure of Zayn Malik) exhausted.

“Enjoy your break,you deserve it…I’ll always be here,” Simon Cowell told the One Direction guys as they lined up before him on the X Factor stage, much as they did when they were teenagers competing in the competition all those years ago.

“There is something absolutely right!” Cowell declared of the boys when they first performed in front of him. One Direction went on to place third in the X Factor, but with Cowell’s support became a worldwide sensation and X Factor‘s biggest success story to date, breaking records, selling millions of albums and garnering one of the most fanatic fanbases seen since fellow Brits the Beatles stormed the charts.

For their final performance the guys opted to perform “History” from their album Made In The A.M., which was released on November 13.

“You and me got a whole lot of history” sang the boys as a montage of baby-faced images flashed behind the now-adult and generously tattooed Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Harry Styles. History” sees the guys declaring their appreciation not for a solitary woman but for their entire fan base. “Don’t let me go, we can make some more [history], we can live forever!” the boys sang, sending a powerful message about their commitment to what they have with their vocal and devoted adherents, the “Directioners.” While a solo career could indeed bring a lot of fulfillment, in addition to the promise of more creative control for the artists, who would no longer have to barter with other band members over creative decisions (remember when Louis jokingly called Niall a “little s***” for altering the lyrics on “Change You Ticket”?), the One Direction vessel provides its own benefits — the fan loyalty and experienced team that develops when a group of people have “a whole lotta history.”

“We’re going away for a while but we need it…You can see how happy we are, it’s genuine happiness and it’s because of you guys,” Liam Payne said, eyes shining after the guys finally parted from a group hug that saw Louis Tomlinson slamming his best friend excitedly on the flank in anticipation of the freedom ahead and in awe at what the foursome have achieved together.

The guys also recorded a video message in which Liam Payne declared that fans have just witnessed the end of “the first chapter” for One Direction.

“Nice,” Louis Tomlinson said of Liam’s choice of words. The One Direction break has been referred to as a lot of things — a hiatus, an extended break, a gap year, some time to breathe, a chance to reflect. Media reports and conflicting statements about the length of the hiatus have also confused fans, with reports stating a time-frame of one year, Liam Payne giving an interview where he extended that time to two years, and Simon Cowell throwing a spanner in the works by questioning whether the One Direction guys would be back at all (“If they want to come back, they’ll come back,” the Syco boss said, probably remembering the briefly-loyal stars like Leona Lewis and Cher Lloyd who up-and-left the label when perceived “control issues” became too much for them). Predictable rumors scoffing that Harry Styles is “definitely” going to pursue a solo career (Harry is arguably the best known and most headline-grabbing member of One Direction, especially in America) also surfaced and fanned fan fears that the One Direction break-up was going to be for good.

Sugarscape reported humorously on the emotion the X Factor performance and goodbye invoked in the fans who have watched the boys for five years.

“Yes, they may be one member down, and yes, puberty happened, but it was like 2010 all over again as we watched Harry, Louis, Niall and Liam belt out new single ‘Infinity’, followed by ‘History’.”

The group closed their first chapter with some stylish sartorial statements. Niall Horan looked dapper in a dark suit and tie, Louis Tomlinson offset his formal blazer with a casual grey t-shirt, Liam Payne sported a velvety tangerine-colored blazer and Harry Styles wore yet another adventurous floral suit, broadcasting his commitment to the Gucci brand, as reported by The Daily Mail.

Will you miss One Direction?

[Photo by Ian Gavan/Getty Images]