One Direction: which member matched which boyband stereotype?

There’s no questioning the startling achievements of One Direction: indoctrinating fans from Lochaber to Lisbon, shifting albums by the millions, selling out live shows around the world, and racking up YouTube views in the billions. But putting numbers aside, how well did Harry, Zayn, Niall, Louis and Liam really succeed? Success in this instance is measured in terms of living up to their svengali’s expectations – the magic formula to which all boybands adhere; the cartoonish roles in which they must exist as for eternity. Below are the results …

The Mysterious One

By definition, mystery is impossible to explain, and in the context of a boyband, it is even more ephemeral. A musk of enigma lingers around this member at all times like a psychopathic groupie, and while it might seem like the most enviable of boyband roles, its attributes are not assigned but there from birth: the sharp, model-like features, the subtle sartorial suaveness, when set alongside the rest of the band’s garish getup; the ability to remain relatively stoney-faced throughout interviews. Former mysterious members include Simon Webbe from Blue, Kevin Richardson from the Backstreet Boys and Another Level’s Bobak Kianoush – the only man capable of looking aloof while dressed in a pleather shirt and uttering the words: “I love the taste of whipped cream, spread it on the top of me.”

Which one of One Direction? Zayn MalikWhy? Cheekbones. Silence. Skulking off early before the ship began to sink.How successful? 5/5

The Boyish One

Every boyband must have its boy. As well as possessing the physical attributes of a young man, he must also act the fool. He is slight in size, and has a fixed grin for no other reason than an enforced sense of naive optimism in the face of gruelling tour schedules and humiliating dance routines. Most importantly, he must not have a single wisp of facial hair. This member is the go-to favourite of both the tween market and the more mature, motherly members of the fanbase. Some of the most successful man-children include Lee Brennan from 911, Kian Egan from Westlife, Take That’s Mark Owen, Scott Robinson from 5ive, Aston Merrygold from JLS (despite his tiny chin beard), Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter and Nathan Sykes from the Wanted, who is allegedly an actual escaped 11-year-old.

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Which one of One Direction? Niall HoranWhy? Harry Styles may be the youngest member of One Direction, but Niall is the band’s most youthful in spirit. Take his rosy cheeks, angelic blonde hair, or this nice photo of him sitting on a jet ski.How successful? 4/5

Take That … Who’s the boyish one? Clue: his first name is Mark. His second is Owen. Photograph: Mike Prior/Redferns

The Starry One

Having the most coveted role, the Starry One is the most likely to succeed when solo. Occupying the role is no guarantee – take Busted’s Charlie Simpson, who seemed like a dead cert for superstardom until he opted for emo instead. And the Starry One is not necessarily the most talented – Gary Barlow had all the talent in Take That, but after the group split, no one devoted a moment’s thought to him for more than a decade. Perhaps the best examples are Justin Timberlake and Michael Jackson, who both enjoyed massive success by trying to sound like Michael Jackson. It’s worth a quick mention of New Kids on the Block’s Jordan Knight, whose career could have blossomed had all of his singles been as strong as Give It to You – the video for which features the best ever high-energy dance routine conducted in a ribbed beige polo neck.

Which One Direction? Harry StylesWhy? Adapted to the madness of the celebrity menagerie the most naturally. Excellent voice. Looks good in a hat.How successful? 4/5

Justin Timberlake … The starry one. Photograph: Andre Csillag/Rex Features

The Rebellious One

AJ McLean from Backstreet Boys; Shane Lynch from Boyzone; Jay, Abs and Sean from 5ive in a punch-up for the role: the bad boy of the group is the antithesis of the Boyish One. He might own a motorbike, he definitely smokes, probably had an eyebrow ring at some stage, has experimented with adventurous facial hair and is more than likely to cover himself in the kind of tattoos formerly engraved on the arms of the Hells Angels. While they flirt with the concept of rock’n’roll, only Take That’s Robbie Williams has ever been officially allowed in the rockers’ inner circle – and even that was for a remarkably short honeymoon period, before Liam Gallagher told him he couldn’t sit with them anymore.

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Which one of One Direction? Louis TomlinsonWhy? Louis sang the Plain White T’s Hey There Delilah for his initial audition, which in 2010’s X Factor terms is pretty much the equivalent of covering Throbbing Gristle and biting the head off a bat. If the pot-smoking scandal was not enough, perhaps that fact that Louis played the lead role of Danny Zuko in a high-school production of Grease should convince you.How successful? 3/5

Shane Lynch … bad boy for life. Photograph: Mark Liley/Sportsphoto Ltd/Allstar

The Generic One

Who could forget Spike Dawbarn? Howie Dorough? Terry Coldwell? Michael Graham? Chris Kirkpatrick? Everyone, that’s who! It feels a bit cruel to define a young man as an anonymous entity; the name you always forget when trying to list all the members of a band without using Wikipedia. But while the Generic One is not necessarily the most impressive singer or the best looking, perhaps these unremarkable qualities make life after the band more bearable. The Generic One may be the only one to survive without the sort of mid-life grappling for attention that spawned tracks such as Rudebox. The boyband’s ultimate winner.

Which one of One Direction? Liam PayneWhy? There’s nothing more everyman about Liam that his disdain for red carpet selfies.How successful? 4/5

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