Columnist Jeni Harvey: Don’t underestimate this band’s future Direction

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So One Direction have split up/not split up/are taking a year out/ whatever.

At the time of writing, the official line on the four-piece’s future is changing so quickly I’m not convinced even Harry Styles knows what’s going on.

In fact, I bet he’s so sleep-deprived, jet-lagged and confused by the social media onslaught he almost definitely hasn’t a clue.

Of course, we’ve been here before. One or two apparently-essential members leave a band, the pop machine implodes, and then they embark upon embarrassing solo efforts, appearances on Celebrity Big Brother and usually a tabloid-friendly dollop of alcoholism, addiction and brushes with the law too.

This is followed 10 years later by semi-successful ‘reunion’ tours and fly-on-the-wall documentaries, before another implosion. See S Club 7, Five, the Sugababes, All Saints etc.

There are exceptions to the rule.

Back in 1993, Take That’s ‘difficult’ second album, Everything Changes, had just come out. I bought it on cassette and would tell anyone who’d listen that it was far superior to their previous outing, Take That And Party.

Unfortunately, I was extolling the virtues of ‘classics’ such as Pray, Babe and Relight My Fire to my dad (more of a fan of Led Zeppelin and Genesis) when he informed me Take That’s music was a ‘bunch of twaddle’ and they’d be unheard of in a decade. For a while, it looked as if he might be right. Robbie left, the band split and it seemed as if they were going to follow the same pattern. Solo efforts were unsurprisingly dire. Then, in a 2005 documentary, the band’s fall from grace was charted in warts-and-all detail, which seemed to remind people of their existence.

A ‘last’ tour followed and something very strange happened. Take That made the comeback of all comebacks, and now Gary Barlow seems to have reached national treasure status. Odd for a bloke who was previously best known for cavorting in the sea, looking a bit chubby, in the Pray video.

So, perhaps the same thing will happen to One Direction. Years down the line they could come out of the pop wilderness to sing at the 2028 Olympics and Prince William’s coronation. They’ll sell out arenas, collaborate with Elton John’s sons, and sit on talent show judging panels. Zayn’s brief departure will have been forgotten, Niall and Liam won’t believe their luck, Louis Tomlinson could end up buying Doncaster Rovers after all. And Harry? Well, he’ll be the new national treasure of course, knighted for services to lingerie models and tattoo parlours.

Stranger things have happened - ask Gary Barlow.

* Jeni Harvey, working mum and Take That fan