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Footage Of The Formation Of One Direction Proves Simon Cowell Lied About Being The Brains Behind The Band

Photo: Kathy Hutchins / Tinseltown / Shutterstock
One Direction, Simon Cowell

One Direction was a global phenomenon for their 5 years of performing together. The chart-topping boy band got their start on the reality show The X-Factor. 

Before One Direction went on an indefinite hiatus in 2016, the boys in the band were propelled to international stardom as a result of their 2010 appearances on the show.

It’s commonly known in 1D canon that Simon Cowell is credited as the creator of the group — the music mogul has even said so himself.

He acted as the man behind the curtain, organizing Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik into a band.

Yet 1D’s origin story doesn’t seem to have been Cowell’s original idea, at all.

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Nicole Scherzinger was actually the one who formed One Direction — not Simon Cowell.

According to behind-the-scenes footage of the decision-making process, it was Nicole Scherzinger’s original idea to put the 1D boys in a band together.

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In July 2022, X-Factor UK released a never-before-seen video to celebrate the 12th anniversary of One Direction. 

In that video, the three judges, Nicole Scherzinger, Louis Walsh, and Cowell are shown analyzing photos of X-Factor contestants.

“Let’s do an imaginary boy band if we were to start one,” Scherzinger says.

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She shifts Niall Horan’s photo to the top of the table as a starting point.

The judges then unanimously agreed on Harry Styles.

“We liked him,” Walsh said, picking up Styles’ photo. “Yes, put him with him,” said Scherzinger, indicating Niall’s photo.

Looking at the photos of Niall and Harry side-by-side, Scherzinger exclaims, “This is the cutest boy band ever!”

“The little girls are going to love them,” she continues as Louis Tomlinson’s photo is added, forecasting the band’s massive success.

Scherzinger goes on to say that the boys are “just too talented to get rid of. They’ve got just the right look and right charisma on stage.”

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“I think they’ll be really great in a boyband together,” Scherzinger states. “They’re like little stars, you can’t get rid of little stars, so you put them all together.”

Liam Payne is the fourth boy added to the group, with Walsh claiming his performance was “a stand-out audition.”

When Cowell questions Payne’s inclusion, Scherzinger claims, “I think he could definitely shine. I think he could actually maybe be the leader.”

“That looks good,” Cowell praised, motioning towards the photos of the four boys.

After Zayn Malik’s picture is added to finalize the group, Cowell approves the set-up, saying, “That’s the category I want, just them.”

Simon Cowell has previously taken credit for forming One Direction.

In 2013, during a 1D Day webcast, Cowell claimed he was the brains behind the formation and had the footage to prove it — though he kept the video to himself.

When asked by Styles, "Who's idea actually was it?" Cowell responded, "It was my idea."

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He even doubled down when Tomlinson and Horan joked that Scherzinger and another X Factor judge, Louis Walsh, would have a different opinion.

"I realized on the show we had no bands... I just said, 'Why don't we put these guys into a group?' It took about 10 minutes!" he added.

"I was disappointed because I thought all of you were going to go through as solo artists."

Scherzinger confirmed that she was the brains behind the formation of One Direction.

During an appearance on Sherri Shepherd's talk show in September 2022, Scherzinger discussed the resurfaced footage.

“It’s kind of crazy. Honestly, I never thought this footage would see the light of day,” Scherzinger said.

“I thought Simon burned it,” she laughed.

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“It’s really cool that it came out because what people are actually seeing is me actually putting them together, the way that my mind was working,” Scherzinger explained.

Referencing her time as part of the Pussycat Dolls, Scherzinger said that she’d “just came out of a girl group, I know how successful and how powerful it can be to be a group,” which is why she had the idea of the boys “joining forces.”

She goes on to say that she’s “super proud that [she] got to play a small part, or a big part” of how pop history was made.

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

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