One Direction: Which Solo Single Is Best? Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan Or Louis Tomlinson [Opinion]

One Direction’s solo singles are vastly different. Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson have all delivered some really nice solo singles. Liam Payne hasn’t yet released any music, but rumors abound that Liam will release his single soon.

Zayn Malik, an R&B artist, has an album and at least three singles out by now, having left One Direction about nine months before the rest of One Direction went on hiatus. Zayn Malik’s debut single “Pillowtalk” was sexy, well produced, and well presented in the music video. “Pillowtalk” is the obvious work of a perfectionist.

One Direction’s Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne were left with a tough act to follow when they created their debut singles and albums because Zayn Malik set the bar so high. It is a matter of hot debate whether Harry Styles reached that bar with “Sign of the Times.”

While Zayn Malik already released an album, Mind of Mine, last year and has several singles out, the rest of One Direction are working on their debut solo albums. Zayn Malik is working on his second album. It is certainly hard to know where these albums will go, judging from the lead singles.

One Direction’s Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne as well as former One Direction singer Zayn Malik are all in various stages of completing and releasing their albums. It will be far easier to see where each of them is coming from once fans have more songs to evaluate.

One Direction solo singles are hard to rank really because Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik all have incredibly different styles, despite being in One Direction together. It would be truly hard to say anything bad about their music at all because all four boys are so talented and professional.

One Direction’s Harry Styles just released his single “Sign of the Times” on April 7. How does “Sign of the Times” stack up against Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk,” Niall Horan’s “This Town” and Louis Tomlinson’s “Hold On”? Billboard set up a poll on Friday to get the reaction of their readers. The results as of Saturday night at 9:30 p.m. were interesting.

One Direction Solo Singles Votes On Billboard Poll

Harry Styles, “Sign of the Times” 32.75 percent

Zayn Malik, “Pillow Talk” 33.5 percent

Niall Horan, “This Town” 16.41 percent

Louis Tomlinson, “Just Hold On” 17.34 percent

Harry Styles and Zayn Malik are approximately tied for first place and the poll is still ongoing. Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson are also tied with each other. Where will Liam Payne rank when he releases his solo single?

Did One Direction fans choose the song of their favorite, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik or Louis Tomlinson in this poll? Did they really consider the overall quality of “This Town,” “Pillow Talk,” “Sign of the Times,” and “Just Hold On”?

Over 100 One Direction fan comments on Billboard’s Poll Daddy yielded some answers. Many fans felt Harry Styles had the advantage over Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson due to Harry’s huge popularity. Wise Directioners said it was impossible to choose and that the poll was meant to divide One Direction fandom.

Some felt Zayn Malik was at a disadvantage compared to Harry Styles, or even Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson because people still resent that he left One Direction. Some said regardless of personal feelings about any of them, Harry Styles missed the mark a bit. Donny’s comment seemed to express this point of view.

“As much as I love Styles, Zayn was, is and will always have the best vocals in One Direction. As a Harry fan, I CAN ADMIT THAT. No matter what he does he will be supported by the fans. Which is not always a good thing… [Harry Styles] I was expecting more from you.”

Yes, many were expecting something different than “Sign of the Times” from One Direction’s Harry Styles. Expectations were high and also specific, and Harry Styles work was unique. Harry Styles does not sound like Queen or David Bowie in “Sign of the Times,” and it wasn’t typical classic rock as Hits Daily Double had promised.

“[Harry Styles] has crafted a set that recalls the regal high-water mark of ’70s British rock, Bowie, and Queen in particular.”

Niall Horan of One Direction sings "This Town"
Niall Horan of One Direction sings "This Town" [Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

“Sign of the Times” is unique and very different than the music of past decades. Older classic rock fans would just be puzzled that this was classified as classic rock. Harry Styles’ “Sign of The Times” doesn’t fit into their genre either. Harry Styles’ new style is just that, a new style and no one can judge a new style in the first five minutes. It’s going to have to sink in, and it’s going to take the release of the whole album, a new genre will take at least a whole album to fully evaluate.

One Direction’s Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik all fit within their genres but it seems like Harry Styles is trying to create something vastly different. It doesn’t really compare to anything else.

One Direction fan Rosa defended Harry Styles with her opinion in the comments on Billboard.

“But it’s Harry for me because he went wit a CLASSIC BRITISH ROCK BALLAD. When was the last time any of you voting had heard something like this? The lyrics were INSANELY great, his falsettos were so beautiful, and the end of the song was so epic and his vocals were on point. Harry took a RISK while Zayn just wanted a number one I feel. Harry doesn’t care about charting,”

Well, One Direction’s Harry Styles probably does care at least a bit about charting, No worries though, Harry Styles did top the charts in the first 19 minutes of sales according to this from the Inquisitr. Rosa is still correct to say that what Harry Styles did was quite risky, and no one has ever heard anything quite like “Sign of the Times.”

While it isn’t important to rank One Direction’s Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik, everyone is certainly comparing “Pillowtalk to “Sign of the Times, as well as “This Town” and “Just Hold On.” Some comments mentioned personality and past history as reasons for their votes, but others insisted that wasn’t fair, and it should be on the merit of the music.

Harry Styles and Zayn Malik are both incredibly talented but what Harry Styles was attempting was different than what Zayn Malik was attempting. There are plenty of bands out their still doing classic rock, heavy metal, grunge metal and death metal as well, exactly as these genres have always been performed.

One Direction’s Harry Styles seems to be reinventing Classic Rock for this century, and the results were shocking. Most listeners will have a better understanding with repeated listening. Harry’s attempt shouldn’t be dismissed. It is interesting. See the Inquisitr for more about Harry Styles new song “Sign of the Times.”

Zayn Malik’s music was extremely marketable because it was truly good. “Pillowtalk” also fit into its genre very well and met or exceeded expectations.

One Direction’s Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson were also vastly different in the music they produced. It is hard if not impossible to say which is better. It depends on which genre one likes. Both were exceptional for their genres.

Niall Horan has recreated his image as an Irish folk singer and songwriter. “This Town” is beautiful, tender, sweet and simple. It is a timeless classic work that could have been written in any century since the invention of an acoustic guitar.

Harry Styles of One Direction sings on stage
Harry Styles of One Direction [Kevin Winter/Getty Images]

Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times” could have been produced any time after the electric guitar was invented, but it doesn’t really fit in any era or genre. The concept is new, mostly because the volume on the guitar tracks were so much softer than Harry Styles’s vocals. That’s not at all how it used to be done in any rock genre. Modern pop often has very subdued instrumentals, however, so perhaps it is some marrying of the two ideas. Oasis does something a little similar, but “Sign of the Times” isn’t exactly like Oasis either.

Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk was insanely creative, but it still falls under the broad definition of R&B. Zayn Malik formerly of One Direction knew what exactly where he wanted to take this song, and he succeeded. Zayn Malik’s “Pillowtalk” certainly delivers.

One Direction’s Louis Tomlinson’s work is very modern since it is EDM. Louis Tomlinson’s “Just Hold On” is pretty amazing, especially since its release date nearly coincided with the death of his mother. Louis Tomlinson is a real trooper performing under those tough circumstances.

One Direction’s Niall Horan admitted that he released “This Town” first because it was the only song on his album ready for release because it was so simple. The rest of the music is still under construction so to speak. Niall Horan’s debut album is likely to feature more complex songs than “This Town.”

Zayn Malik took his time after leaving One Direction, and everything was ready before he released his lead single. Zayn Malik apparently chose the most marketable song from the album material, though many songs on the Mind of Mine album were as good or better, “Pillowtalk” was probably the most marketable.


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Zayn Malik went with super sexy rhythm and blues on “Pillowtalk.” One Direction’s Niall Horan is an Irish folk singer, and created timeless beauty with “Our Town.” One Direction’s Liam Payne is said to be going with R&B, while Louis Tomlinson’s Electronic Dance Music hit “Just Hold On” is pretty trendy right now.

One Direction’s Harry Styles tried something brand new. “Sign of the Times” isn’t just like classic rock. Harry Styles new song is not pop, it isn’t commercial at all, and it may take some time to really evaluate it fairly.

One Direction’s Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Zayn Malik are all fantastic singers with brilliant careers ahead, so why choose favorites, or give up on your favorite over one song?

[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Imges]