Over the past week, the world has heard collective teenage sobs from One Direction fans everywhere mourning the loss of member Zayn Malik, who confirmed he’d be leaving the boy band for an undisclosed reason. But despite the shake-up, the band of British/Irish 20-somethings is already cashing in on their fans’ misery: Spotify reports seeing a “spike of sadness” in streams of the band’s music, reports the LA Times, with massive increases in streaming.
The phenomenon has been particularly dramatic in the U.K., where streaming of One Direction tunes has skyrocketed by 1,900 percent! Chances are there are tons of teens/tweens locking themselves in their bedrooms and paying homage to one-fifth of the band – which now features Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, and a big, gaping hole where Malik used to be – as they recall their favorite songs. In the U.S., streaming leaped nearly 800 percent.
It sounds utterly ridiculous, until you consider the equivalent of your time: whether it was New Kids on the Block, N Sync, or Backstreet Boys, imagine how you would have felt if one of them left? (If the answer is exceedingly exuberant, then chances are you were not a teenage girl at the time. And even if you were one of the affected teen/tween concert screamers, Justin Timberlake’s exodus from N Sync was clearly better all involved – well, except for maybe the other four guys in the group.
While the real reason for Malik’s departure is yet unknown, he has been seen heading into a recording studio. Is he hoping to become the next JT? Might Spotify see a “spike of resurrection” with tunes from a budding solo career? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that five guys who barely harmonize, and instead take turns singing lead might be eyeing a solo career in the very near future.
Whatever the situation, it’s clear that fans are doing more than just streaming songs like What Makes You Beautiful (sniffle, sniffle) and Story Of My Life (oh, the horror). Twitter has blown up with trending hashtags like #alwaysinourheartszaynmalik (really, guys, he hasn’t died!) and #letsbuyonedirection. (What’s the over/under on the Kickstarter campaign to fund Malik’s return, or the supposed “purchase” of the band?)
One Direction was formed back in 2010 after the five members all appeared as individual contestants on the British version of X-Factor. Simon Cowell put the young, heart throb-worthy teens together into a group, and signed them to his label. Over the past five years, the quintet has become the latest boy band sensation for this generation of squealing teens.
So Directioners, unite in your spike of sadness! It may just help the band extend its 15 minutes a little bit longer, one member short or not.