Niall Horan remains a major player in pop music today, even without the rest of One Direction behind him. The singer-songwriter has firmly established himself as a solo artist, though admittedly without the clamor that accompanies a teen boy band behind him. In many ways, this is progress for Horan.
Horan and his boy band were one of the defining acts of the last decade, but after their run was over they were left to prove their merit individually. So far, Horan has done well for himself. He released a solo album in 2019, and appeared on Saturday Night Live as the musical guest in order to promote it. Horan has also branched out into philanthropy and sports, all while holding the interest of a fan base that many young artists lose when their streak is up. All of this adds up to make Horan a very interesting act to watch in the years to come.
Horan has also managed to stay out of tabloids and celebrity scandals for the most part — a feat few young stars can pull off. His work only seems to be broadening his target audience, and more people than ever are looking to his next move with interest. Scroll down for a timeline of Horan's rise to fame.
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.prevnext
'The X Factor'
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.prevnext
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.prevnext
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.prevnext
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.prevnext
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.prevnext
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.prevnext
'Nice to Meet Ya'
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.prev