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One Direction are an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, consisting of Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. They signed with Simon Cowell's record label Syco Records after being formed and finishing third in the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor in 2010. Propelled to international success by the power of social media, One Direction's three albums Up All Night, Take Me Home and Midnight Memories released in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively, broke several records, topped the charts of most major markets, and generated hit singles, which include "What Makes You Beautiful" and "Story Of My Life".
Their achievements include two BRIT Awards and four MTV Video Music Awards among many others. According to Nick Gatfield, the chairman and chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment UK, One Direction represented a $50 million business empire by June 2012. They were proclaimed 2012's "Top New Artist" by Billboard. By April 2013, the band had an estimated personal combined wealth of £25 million. After the release of Midnight Memories, One Direction became the first band in Billboard 200 history to have their first three albums debut at no. 1. Additionally, the album was a global success, debuting at #1 on the UK Albums Chart and US Billboard 200 albums chart and becoming the fastest and biggest selling album of 2013 in the UK. In addition, the Official Charts Company revealed that One Direction had sold 2,425,000 records in the UK by February 2013.
In 2010, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Louis Tomlinson auditioned as solo candidates for the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor. They failed to progress to the "Boys" category at "judges' houses" but were to put together to form a five-piece boy band at Wembley Arena, in London, England, in July 2010, during the "bootcamp" stage of the competition, thus qualifying for the "Groups" category. Nicole Scherzinger, a guest judge, and Simon Cowell have both claimed to have come up with the idea of forming the band. In 2013, Cowell said that it "took him 10 minutes to put them together as a group". Subsequently, the group got together for two weeks to get to know each other and to practise. Styles came up with the name One Direction. For their qualifying song at "judges' houses", and their first song as a group, One Direction sang an acoustic version of "Torn". The group quickly gained popularity in the UK.
One Direction finished in third place and immediately after the final, their song "Forever Young", which would have been released if they had won The X Factor, was leaked onto the internet. Shortly afterwards it was confirmed that One Direction had been signed by Cowell to a reported £2 million Syco Records record contract.
In April 2012, an American band that went by the same name filed a trademark infringement lawsuit. According to the lawsuit, the US band had been using the name (One Direction) since 2009, recorded two albums and filed an application to register the trademark name in the US in February 2011. The US band said they were entitled to three times the profits made by the UK band, as well as compensatory damages in excess of US$1million. The lawsuit claimed that Syco and Sony Music "chose to ignore the plaintiff's rights and wilfully infringed them" after they realised in early 2011 that the two bands shared the same name. Syco Records subsequently counter-sued, suggesting the US group was trying to make money from One Direction's success and that the boy band was the first to use the name in US interstate commerce. The BBC reported in September 2012 that the UK group won the legal dispute over the right to keep using their band name; the US band changed its name to Uncharted Shores. The change of name was announced in a joint statement that also noted both groups were happy with the outcome.
As part of their involvement with the UK charity, One Direction travelled to Ghana to volunteer at a children's hospital, visit a school and make donations.
One Direction have supported many charities and foundations, including Alzheimer's Association, Comic Relief, Greenpeace. Mines Advisory Group, Sport Relief and Trekstock.
In 2010, when One Direction were contestants on The X Factor, they and the series seven finalists released a cover of David Bowie’s “Heroes”. The song, was released as a charity single in aid of Help for Heroes, a charity which supports injured servicemen and women. The single entered both the Irish Singles Chart and the UK Singles Chart at number one.
Subsequently, the group teamed up with Office Depot to start a campaign against bullying. The campaign raised over one million dollars.
One Direction were named the most charitable in 2013 behind Taylor Swift by social change organization DoSomething.org.
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