Irish singer/songwriter Niall Horan was one-fifth of One Direction, one of the most commercially successful boy bands of all time. As one of the group's more prolific songwriters, he could also play guitar, which helped him kick off a solo career after the group went on hiatus in 2016. His official solo debut, Flicker, was released in 2017 and topped the charts in the U.S. and his native Ireland.
Born September 13, 1993 in Mullingar, Co. Westmeath, Ireland, Horan became interested in music at a young age. After his elder brother failed to play the guitar he had received as a Christmas present, Niall picked it up and taught himself to play by watching instructional YouTube videos. Discovering he also had a talent for singing, he began writing songs and performing while still in his early teens, even bagging a support slot with former X Factor contestant Lloyd Daniels at the famous Academy Club in Dublin.
At the age of 16, he auditioned for The X Factor, and the rest is history. One Direction, formed on the show in 2010, went on to become one of the most popular groups of the decade, with sales surpassing even those of the Beatles. Horan was one of the group's principal songwriters and a fan favorite with his baby-faced good looks and sweet tenor. After five albums in five years and the loss of one of their most popular members (Zayn Malik), One Direction took a well-deserved hiatus beginning in January 2016. Later that year, Horan announced he had signed a solo deal with Capitol. His debut solo single, the romantic acoustic ballad "This Town," was released in September, drawing comparisons to Ed Sheeran and reaching number nine on the U.K. singles chart. Two further singles appeared — "Slow Hands" and "Too Much to Ask" — before his debut solo record, Flicker, was released in October 2017. Inspired by the sounds of Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles, the album also featured an appearance by Maren Morris on "Seeing Blind." In addition to topping the charts in Canada and Ireland, the album also debuted atop the Billboard 200 and was later certified platinum across the globe. During the album's promotional tour, Horan and his band made a stop in Dublin to record a live version of Flicker with the 45-piece RTÉ Concert Orchestra, which was released in early 2019 as Flicker Featuring the RTÉ Concert Orchestra Live. Later that year, Horan returned with the single "Nice to Meet Ya," the first offering from his sophomore effort, Heartbreak Weather, which was inspired by the aftermath of a breakup. ~ John D. Buchanan