‘Isn’t it better that Zayn should be allowed to leave the band if it is what will make him happiest?’ Photograph: Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images/Guardian composition
Last modified on Thursday 26 March 2015 11.57 EDT
top all the hits; pull all the shows; prevent the fans from fainting in the front rows. Zayn has left the building. Oh Zayn, we hardly knew you. Or rather, despite being nicknamed “The Mysterious One”, we knew you too well.
I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.
Fair enough. But where does that leave millions of the band’s young fans? How are they supposed to cope? From a pop fan who’s been through it all before, here are a few handy tips for all Directioners suddenly feeling very lost indeed.
Do not let anyone say otherwise. I am on your side. This article? I can hear the comments percolating as we speak. “Why are you writing about someone quitting a boy band when there is a general election happening?”
David Cameron with One Direction. Photograph: Comic Relief/PA
Of course, “the haters” – in correct parlance – ignore that coverage of the general election has so far consisted of one man and his two kitchens, and another man in his one kitchen, and one of those men in one of those kitchens worried that appearing on television will mean adding 10 pounds and losing 10 seats.
So, when your dad tells you “to get over it” – like he knows what he’s talking about – I would make it very clear to him that his soft sobbing and beer-can salute to the news of Jeremy Clarkson’s sacking did not go unrecorded.
Honestly, time is the greatest healer. When Brian McFadden departed Westlife in 2004, the world (well, Ireland) wept. But pretty soon, somehow, we got on fine without him.
And do you think I wasn’t sad when Siobhan left the Sugababes? After they gave us Overload? I was devastated. But then I got used to that particular band’s liberal attitude to line-up rotation – think England friendly before a major tournament – and then all I cared about was that they were still knocking out banging hits of Push the Button calibre.
Out of the ashes, a phoenix rises. Or at least: a Justin Timberlake, a Robbie Williams. Oh, the relief I felt at never again having to decide upon the spelling of *Nsync (N’Sync? NSYNC? N*Sync?) again.
It’s easy to lash out after a breakup. Anger is a natural reaction to rejection. Reader: you are better than that. I note, with dismay, that some Directioners are already throwing online vitriol at Zayn’s (IRL) fiancee, Little Mix star Perrie Edwards.
You have to really think about a person’s feelings before insulting them. Calling someone the most offensive thing you can think of – “the new Yoko Ono”, for instance – is beyond the pale.
If you love someone, set them free, said nobody who had ever been dumped before. But here’s the thing: Zayn, truly, did not look happy. He didn’t even look happy at the very beginning, when he famously refused to dance during the X Factor bootcamp.
This is a man who would be papped standing outside recording studios chain-smoking, possibly reciting Camus in his head, while Louis was fooling about with a water-gun or some such.
A man who, when he tweeted #FreePalestine, was called upon to be the voice of “the Muslim community”, as if he had ever expressed any desire to be anything of the sort. He’s a pop star, not a representative of the UN – that was Geri Halliwell, post-Spice Girls.
Isn’t it better that Zayn should be allowed to leave the band if it is what will make him happiest? Just as Charlie Simpson left Busted back in 2005 to join the “alternative rock band” Fightstar.
Charlie Simpson, centre, who left the boyband Busted in early 2005. Photograph: Brian Rasic / Rex Features/Brian Rasic / Rex Features
How could Zayn do this to you? He has ruined everything. You wish him nothing but the greatest of unhappiness. Well, it doesn’t usually end well when those who are not deemed the lead star leave pop groups.
McFadden? Sure, he had hits in “European countries” with dodgy piano-led ballads, lost some weight and grew out the bleach in his hair. But where is he now? And Sean Conlon who left 5ive in 2001, after no longer feeling Da Funk? Well, he entered The Voice and didn’t even get through the first round (although he did later rejoin during The Big Reunion). Be careful what you wish for.
By which I mean: do not lie to yourself. Can we be honest here, fellow One Direction fans? What the hell was Story of My Life? How has a band that gave us the glorious “na na na” middle-eight in What Makes You Beautiful, an almost perfect pop song, been reduced to churning out an awful Mumford & Sons pastiche?
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