After Revealing A Reunion Is Unlikely, Simon Cowell Admits He Wants To Use One Direction's Name To Make Money

“You and me got a whole lot of history, we could be the greatest team that the world has ever seen."

One Direction Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

For five brief, beautiful years, One Direction captured hearts and world records, making pop culture history with their meteoric rise to fame after X-Factor judge Simon Cowell molded them into a boy band in 2010. In 2015, the remaining 1D boys announced a hiatus that became an indefinite split, as Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson went their separate ways to establish solo careers.


Some have more success than others (ahem, Harry Styles), but the 1Ders continue to make music and hold the die-hard affection of fans, specifically girls who left their teenage years behind to enter the world of young adulthood.

The astronomical heights One Direction reached says a lot for their talent, work ethic, and the specific moment in which they emerged. 

Their story is based on a delicate formula, one that most likely won’t be recreated anytime soon, although Cowell shared how much he wants to remake the band in his own image.

Simon Cowell admitted he wants to use One Direction’s name to make money.

In a recent interview with “The Diary of a CEO,” Cowell waxed poetic on his successes and regrets, placing himself and his apparent hunger for wealth at the center of the conversation.

@steven Simon Cowell talks about forming One Direction, and if they’ll reunite in the future 👀 Full conversation live on The Diary of a CEO now ❤️#podcast #podcastclips #interview #simoncowell #diaryofaceo #onedirection #1D #harrystyles #liampayne #zaynmalik #louistomlinson #niallhoran #xfactor #stevenbartlett ♬ original sound - Steven Bartlett

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He revealed his doubts that a 1D reunion will happen, then gave voice to something he probably should have kept a secret: His wish to have made more money off the band.

“The one thing I regret is I should have kept the name… I should have owned the name,” Cowell said. “That’s the problem.”


One Direction owns their own name, a savvy business move that gives them more creative control than most boy bands historically have.

Cowell seems to be digging deep into his Machiavelli era, saying that if he owned 1D’s name, he could profit off them, even if the boys didn’t reunite.

Simon Cowell Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock


“If one of the band members, for whatever reason, say they don’t want to tour, it can stop the others [from] touring. So, if it was me who owned the name, it wouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

He continued to sound like a cartoon villain, saying, “I could have made an animation or whatever, but when you give an artist the name, it’s not yours — and that’s my only regret.”

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Cowell's strange yet unsurprising comments offer insight into what drives him: profiting off other artists’ creative ambitions.

Cowell’s statements raise questions that are increasingly important as the rise of AI seems to be inevitable.


In January 2024, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology held a panel discussion on generative AI, in which experts discussed themes of emergence, embodiment, and expectations surrounding the ways that generative AI is transforming art and design.

While the panel focused on visual art, the topics they covered resonated with all creative fields, including music.

Onur Yüce Gün, the moderator of the discussion, stated, “These new technologies are spreading so rapidly, almost like an explosion. And there are enormous expectations around what they are going to do.”

Gün asked, “Are there promises [AI] won’t be able to fulfill?”

Ana Miljački shared her perspective, saying, “I hope it won’t be used to replace thinking,” noting that “[AI] reproduces all the biases and gaps in the archive it has been fed.”

@samharrisorg From Sam’s TED talk, “Can we build AI without losing control over it?” #SamHarris #artificialintelligence #ai #chatgpt #philosophy ♬ original sound - Sam Harris

Ziv Epstein said, “There is some debate whether generative AI is a tool or an agent. But even if we call it a tool, we need to remember that tools are not neutral… The question is, how do we embed meaningful human control into these systems?”

“I think it’s an awesome opportunity for us to think about what it means to be human,” he continued, a point that Cowell should really pay attention to.

The magic of One Direction wasn’t sourced from their name. In fact, their success wasn’t really rooted in Cowell, at all. 

He may have organized them into a band, although there’s some speculation about which X-Factor judge really put them together, but he didn’t make them who they are.


They did that on their own, night after night, in arena after arena.

One Direction keyed an overlooked yet completely powerful demographic: Teen girls, who offered them undying support, who raised them up to heights unknown, all because of the strength of their love, which could never be replicated by technology.

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers celebrity gossip, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.