This week, Saturday Night Live's musical guest is Niall Horan, singer, songwriter and former member of boy band One Direction. With the midseason finale coming up fast, many fans are interested to see who will be helping send SNL out in style for the holidays. Horan takes the stage on SNL this weekend for the first time on his own. The singer's band served as the musical guest three times, and participated in skits on those occasions as well. This week, however, it is all on him.
Horan joins this week's host Scarlett Johansson in the penultimate episode of the year. He is promoting an upcoming album and a tour as well. Many fans are dying to see more of what Horan can do on his own, with a style distinct from his band and their reputation.
SNL is on a popular streak at the moment, with a few viral moments in a row in recent weeks. The show has struck a balance with its political commentary this season, but with the impeachment hearings in session, we can expect at least a little commentary in that department this year. Since the U.K. election was this week, we could even conceivably see Horan in the mix as well.
Here is everything you need to know about Niall Horan before his SNL debut on Saturday night.
Niall Horan is originally from Mullingar, Ireland — a relatively large town in the midlands region. Horan's parents were divorced, and he and his older brother lived primarily with their father. They attended Catholic boys' school.
As a child, Horan taught himself to play guitar with the aid of online tutorials and videos. He was drawn to music from a young age, performing at the local arts center throughout high school. Horan was also a sports enthusiast, playing football, Gaelic football and golf.
Horan's career began in 2010 when he auditioned for the seventh season of The X Factor in the U.K. He performed a rendition of "So Sick" by Ne-Yo that got mixed reviews. Simon Cowell voted him through and, after hesitating, guest judge Katy Perry did as well.
Horan did not pass the bootcamp phase of The X Factor, but the producers decided to seize on his potential anyway. He was put into a group with four others from the competition, which became One Direction. As a band, they finished in third place.
Beyond The X Factor, One Direction had a startling rise to fame under the guidance of Simon Cowell. The group went on tour, earning international acclaim quickly.
One Direction released five studio albums, embarked on several tours, starred in concert documentary films and even licensed a book about their experience, all within the span of about four years. In November of 2015, the group announced they were going on hiatus indefinitely. Fans have little hope that they will reunite any time soon.
Following One Direction's hiatus, Horan took his time in going solo. He waited nearly a year to release his first single, "This Town," which was an instant hit. Another single followed months later, but Horan's solo album, Flicker, did not come out until October of 2017.
Horan's solo music has a folk-inspired classic rock feel. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said that some of his biggest influences on his solo venture were Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles and other American folk-rock icons.
"Whenever I would pick up a guitar, I would always naturally play chords like that, and finger pick a lot and play that folky kind of style," he said.
Critics agreed, calling the music a fusion of folk and pop music.
Meanwhile, Horan returned to the world of sports even before getting his solo music career going. In February of 2016, he launched a golf management company with Mark McDonnell. He continues to work in the sport to this day, even caddying for professional players and working to promote big tournaments. Horan works with the Drive, Chip and Putt Initiative, which aims to encourage children to take up golf.
As a child athlete, Horan sustained an injury on the soccer field, giving him a floating kneecap. The injury came back to haunt him years later on tour, including one serious incident in 2013 when he dislocated his knee on stage in Belgium.
Horan had a reconstructive operation on his knee in 2014, and he got to recover in style. He was invited to undergo physical therapy with the Chelsea Football Club, a beloved English soccer club. He spent seven weeks with the team going through physical therapy and training with the athletes.
Horan has been open about his struggles with mental health as well. In an interview with German magazine Zeit Leo in April of 2018, he revealed that he has "mild" Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
"I feel like I have to do things in a certain way," he said. "For example, if I have a burger with chips on my plate, I always have to eat the chips first and only pick up the burger at the very end."
"There are other tics in my life. Even when I go on stage, I only have one fixed sequence. I always have to sing in the same order, move and so on," he said.
Horan said that he suffers from anxiety as well, and relies on breathing techniques to settle his nerves before performances and other stressful tasks.
"I live with [my tics] and they're mine no matter what others think about it," he said. "I'm just like — what the hell! Fortunately, I now have enough people around me who understand me."
Some fans praised Horan for speaking out about his mental health at the time.
Tickets are on sale for my North American tour. I can’t even put into words how excited I am about it. 2020 is going to be an incredible year and I can’t wait to see all of you beautiful people on tour . Xx https://t.co/QD3toWSDy0 pic.twitter.com/vBIqhn2xge— Niall Horan (@NiallOfficial) November 8, 2019
These days, Horan is working on his upcoming solo album, which remains untitled. The singer has released one single from the record, which is titled "Nice to Meet Ya." He has also announced the Nice to Meet Ya Tour, which begins in April of 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee.
Presumably, this will be a part of Horan's performance on SNL this weekend. The show starts at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC.
SUBSCRIBE to GroupChat, PopCulture.com's official Reality TV podcast! Check it out by clicking here or listen below.
HOLD UP! Hit play and listen to GroupChat's new Episode 18! On our first episode of 2020 we're talking Peter Webber and former 'Bachelorette' Hannah Brown meeting again, new 'Vanderpump Rules' SURvers are here, Kylie Jenner isn't having the best kickoff to 2020 so far and is Jenelle Evans dating a new guy after her split from David Eason? Be sure to tap play for all the details!