The Hierarchy of One Direction


One Direction may lack the personalities of past boy bands, but there is still a hierarchy.

Being the music enthusiast that I am, I typically try to dissect the underpinnings of many artists and their respective material.  One Direction has a clear ‘hierarchy’ that I wasn’t sure existed before.  I don’t think the band necessarily has the personality of the boy bands of the late 90’s and early 00’s, but there are some distinctions within the group musically and perhaps where personality is concerned.

The Hierarchy of One Direction (from Top to Bottom):

Zayn Malik

Zayn Malik: “I’m definitely the bad boy. Get @ Me.”


  • arguably possesses the most distinct voice; could be a solo artist with work/more personality
  • Zayn highlights the powered, upper register ad libs on “More Than This“; Carries a good bit of the vocal solos on “Live While We’re Young”; possesses that ‘pop’ voice
  • eliminates some of the ‘schmaltz’ of the band given the tattoos (notably on his arm), earrings, ‘bad boy’ edge – also a smoker…
  • Dated an older Rebecca Ferguson during X-Factor tenure before Harry Styles went to the extreme of dating MUCH older women… #Trendsetter

Harry Styles

Harry Styles: “Mick Jagger really is my daddy!”


  • actually draws more attention than the somewhat mysterious  Zayn – mainly for his attraction to cougars/older women
  • has a solid voice, and handled many solo portions on Up All Night; Zayn may still have an edge
  • has a couple of tats, coupled with his highly publicized dating situations, gives him some ‘bad boy’ tendencies; He also kind of looks kind of like a young Mick Jagger 
  • Looks wouldn’t hold him back from a solo career; I’m unsure of his command as a potential solo artist…

Liam Payne

Liam: “I know, I should’ve stuck with the mop top.”


  • Underrated, underrated, underrated; seems to have a more restrained personality (if any of these guys really have distinct personalities)
  • if we merely judge ‘nice guy’ Liam by personality only in hierarchy, he probably graces the bottom
  • Liam has the deepest voice, which distinguishes him from the rest; this is heard on the first solo of “What Makes You Beautiful” (“you’re insecure, don’t know what for…”) and “Live While We’re Young” (“Hey girl, I’m waitin’ on ya, I’m waitin’ on ya/Come on and let me sneak you outAnd have a celebration, a celebrationThe music up, the window’s down…”)
  • While Liam’s voice is solid and adds ‘bass’ to the collection of tenors, I can’t envision him being a solo artist; He has the looks, but I’m unconvinced of the ‘swagger’

Niall Horan 

Niall Horan: “&%$! Yeah I curse a lot! I’m Irish!”


  • He curses a lot… he is Irish
  • He has a solo on the song “More Than This” (“If I’m louder, would you see me?/Would you lay down…”) and it’s ok (more than presentable), but you also see why he fits in as more of a ‘role player.’  He doesn’t have the tone of Zayn or Harry.
  • Where looks go a long way, many are captivated by Niall’s blondness; arguably the most popular member regardless of role

Louis Tomlinson 

Louis Tomlinson: “I’m always more dapper than the rest. Gotta get my 15 minutes somehow!”


  • has ‘role’ player written all over him
  • his solo turns seem to be small as in “More Than This” (“And when I see you on the street/In his arms, I get weak/My body fails, I’m on my knees,Prayin’…”); his voice is a pleasant upper tenor with solid tone, but not extremely ‘commanding’
  • wouldn’t be a solo artist by my estimations; solid within a group setting
  • older than the multitude, which may hurt his stock of being anymore than a role player
  •  the most metrosexual member – odd haircut, unique clothing choices – maybe this is to distinguish him more
One Direction exhibiting the most personality they’ve exhibited like EVER…

So who is my favorite member of One Direction.  I think the band as a whole has some work to do, regardless of their successes.  By that, I am referring to showmanship and even showing more range musically. A criticism many will quickly cite is the missing ‘dance’ elements that characterized past boy bands that seems absent.  Musically speaking, there is room to add more personality and nuance.  But much like undecided voters in the looming presidential election, if I had to vote/choose, I’d go with Zayn.

Zayn: “Of course I’m the coolest.”

6 Comments Add yours

  1. Abby says:

    Hello, I found your analysis interesting. I find it horrifying that Liam is ranked so low. He is UNDERRATED. I think it’s great that he doesn’t draw so much attention and drama to himself in the press because I think he’s by far the most talented of the five of them and is the only one that could pull off a solo career.

    His vocals are superb, but he doesn’t get to maximize his potential in One Direction. He sounds like a baritone and I enjoy listening to his voice on his own. “Personality” and garbage don’t matter. This is about talent, and Simon only wants to make money off the poor kid. Liam should be talking to the likes of Harry Connick Jr, Michael Buble, and Justin Timberlake about his voice. He does not belong in a mediocre group like One Direction.

  2. Melissa says:

    I think Liam is far and away the best singer in the group. I found a clip online of his first X-Factor audition in 2008 in which he sang “Fly Me to the Moon”, and even at the age of 14 he had a smooth, suave, Buble-esque baritone. That kid’s talented. I agree with Abby in that he just doesn’t get to perform to his potential in a teen-pop boy band. He should be fronting a big band (as in swing).

    I find it interesting now Niall’s accent is very prominent in ballads (ex. “Little Things” or “Moments”) but he sounds very American in the more upbeat songs (ex.. “One Thing” or “Kiss You”). Louis is a little nasally for my taste, but he has a nice warm tenor tone. Harry’s slight rasp is fit for rock n’ roll. Zayn I could easily see as a solo R&B singer. Each boy is a good singer in his own right, and they mesh well together. They’re no NSYNC, that’s for sure, but they hold their own. I kind of like how they don’t bother with intricate choreography and just goof around like typical teenage boys on stage. It makes them look a little less “cookie-cutter” and more like regular ol’ boys that you’d just wanna hang out and jam with (on Niall’s acoustic guitar, of course).

  3. Vernell says:

    The Python language motivates the development of higher quality, more maintainable code.

  4. Margarita says:

    And even after that happens, it may take months longer before
    the case is set up for a hearing date.

  5. Jane says:

    “Liam has the deepest voice” Lol what? Harry Styles has by far the deepest voice, singing & speaking. Check your ears. Zayn has range & can do proper falsetto, but so do many male singers. He has a nice voice, but the most unique voice in that group was/is definitely Styles’, on accord of his tone/timbre, and having the ‘lowest’ voice.

    1. Jane says:

      **(autocorrect error) On account, not on accord.

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