Liam Payne Is The Latest One Direction Member To Sign A Solo Deal — Is The Group Done?

Following the footsteps of (possibly former) group mate Harry Styles, One Direction star Liam Payne revealed on Thursday that he has become the latest member of the “What Makes You Beautiful” collective to sign a solo deal. The 22-year-old, who, along with Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan, is currently on a hiatus from the spotlight, revealed the news via his social media pages, as well as the location of his new recording home, Capitol Records.

“Happy to have signed to [Capitol],” Payne shared with a manipulated image of a Capitol Records LP on Twitter. “They have an amazing history of artists [and] I hope I can follow in their footsteps.”

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Payne expressed himself a bit deeper on Instagram, where he made note of his newly-obtained connection to a music great who once recorded for Capitol.

“Capitol Records has an amazing history, stretching right back [to] Frank Sinatra,” he expressed. “I’m really looking forward to becoming part of their story. One Direction will always be my family, [but now] I’m excited to show what I can do as a solo artist.”

It was a sentiment that was shared by the CEO of Capitol Records UK, Nick Raphael.

“Capitol Records UK are incredibly excited to be working with Liam,” Raphael wrote in a statement that was posted by Glamour. “It’s not often you get the chance to sign such a talented and ambitious 22 year old who has already conquered the world.”

Unfortunately, Liam’s well-meaning nod to the boy band that made him famous may not have fulfilled its intention as immediately after the solo news went public, the hashtag “#OneDirectionIsOverParty” began to trend all over social media.

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Despite comments to the contrary from several members of the group, Payne’s new role as a solo star does lend weight to the assumption that One Direction are officially done. As noted by the Inquisitr in June, Harry Styles became the first of the four member lineup to sign up for solo success with Columbia Records (original member Zayn Malik departed the group for his own musical journey in March of last year). Furthermore, even Simon Cowell, who co-founded One Direction and signed them to his Syco imprint following their elimination from the UK’s X Factor in 2011, seemingly had doubts over whether or not they would ever decide to reform.

liam payne [Photo by Mike Windle/Stringer/Getty Images]“I don’t know if they’re going to split up,” he admitted to Yahoo! Celebrity last August, just days after the group revealed their hiatus plans. “Even though they were young, [they maintained] a grueling schedule and after a while, I could see they were exhausted. I’ve known for a while that they were going to take 2016 off, and they had to [with] their workload.”

Although talk about the end of One Direction have been prominent since the start of their hiatus, the whispers hit a fever pitch back in January of this year when several entertainment outlets began reporting that the temporary time-off would become permanent. A source close to the young music stars debunked the talk with Entertainment Tonight, saying that there were no truth to the rumors.

“[Their break] remains a hiatus,” the insider claimed, “with the intention of reuniting at some point.”

Since their start, Payne and One Direction have sold nearly 20 million albums worldwide, and managed to break six Guinness World Records, so says Entertainment Weekly. Their last release, 2015’s Made In The A.M., was the first to miss the No. 1 position on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart (they were held back at No. 2 by Justin Bieber’s Purpose album), but still shipped an impressive 402,000 copies in its first week. It would go on to become the sixth best-selling album of 2015, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and their fifth top-five album on Billboard overall.

When asked in January about One Direction ending, Liam Payne gave a firm and simple answer to the paparazzi: “No.” However, only time will tell just how honest he was being with that response. What do you think, Inquisitr readers? Have One Direction reached the end of the road?

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[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images]