Louis Tomlinson began his career on the popular UK singing competition X-Factor. He auditioned as a solo artist at eighteen years old in 2010. Shockingly, he received three yes’s. His audition was horrendous which he himself acknowledges later in his career. Sadly, after bootcamp, he was cut. However, at the last minute, Simon Cowell decided to put him in a group with four other boys who were cut: Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, and Liam Payne. From there was born the global sensation that will become One Direction. The five of them made it to the semi finals of the show and came in 3rd place. However, it was clear that One Direction was not going to end with their time on the show. One Direction went on to put out 5 albums: Up All Night (2011), Take Me Home (2012), Midnight Memories (2013), Four (2014), and Made in the A.M. (2015). They also went on 4 highly successful tours, 1 of which was an arena tour and 2 of which were stadium tours: Up All Night Tour (2011-2012), Take Me Home Tour (2013), Where We Are Tour (2014), and the On The Road Again Tour (2015). The band went on hiatus in August of 2015 and each member since has put out their own solo project, including Louis.
Louis has always thought of himself as the most forgettable member of One Direction. However, that has been disproven time and time again. He has written/co-written the greatest number of songs for the band. It is also clear that without his unique tone and range, One Direction’s songs would not have the distinctive sound they do. His harmonies are necessary to give the songs texture. Post hiatus, Louis originally planned on being a songwriter solely, but when DJ Steve Aoki proposed a collaboration, his mother encouraged him to take the opportunity. His debut single, “Just Hold On,” with Steve Aoki was released on December 10, 2016. He performed this song for the first time during the X-Factor finale on that very day. This was his first solo performance. Styles, Horan, and Payne attended the performance. This was a bittersweet moment for Louis as his mother, Johanna Deakin, passed away from Leukemia at the age of 43 on December 7, 2016. He claims that he continued to pursue music because of his mother and her support after the hiatus.
Since then, Louis has put out one album among a few singles. Following “Just Hold On,” he released “Back To You” in July of 2017, another collaboration, this time with Bebe Rexha. The music video was filmed in his hometown of Doncaster, England. On October 11, 2017, he released “Just Like You,” his first non-collaboration solo single. On December 1, 2017, Louis released “Miss You.” He did not release any music again until 2019 as he was a judge on X-Factor UK for the 2018 season. The next single he released was the first from his debut album: “Two of Us” in March of 2019. “Two of Us” is written about his mother and the loss of her. He explained in his Zach Sang interview from October 2019 that it was difficult for him to write any songs before writing this one. He felt he had to get it out of his system.
Louis then released “Kill My Mind” in September of 2019, one of his favorite songs that he has ever put out. With a distinct Brit-Pop sound, it is a standout in his debut album Walls. He then released “We Made It” in October of 2019. Louis continued to explain in the Zach Sang interview that “‘We Made It’ was a nice transition for the fans.” He wrote it two and a half years earlier. Louis released his last single, “Don’t Let it Break Your Heart” from the album Walls in late November. Walls was released on January 31, 2020 and was his debut album.
His album, Walls, features twelve songs. The tracklist is: “Kill My Mind,” “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart,” “Two of Us,” “We Made It,” “Too Young,” “Walls,” “Habit,” “Always You,” “Fearless,” “Perfect Now,” “Defenceless,” and “Only the Brave.” While each song has their own unique sound, they all form a cohesive album with relatively similar inspirations. Oasis has been a huge inspiration to Louis and it is clearly showcased within this album. “Walls” even has a song credit to Noel Gallagher as there is some resemblance to a few Oasis songs written by him. He admittedly was surprised that Gallagher approved it as he had been vocal about his negative opinion towards One Direction and him. Louis has music videos for “Two of Us,” “Walls,” “Kill My Mind,” “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart,” and “We Made It.” Along with the official music video for “Two of Us,” Louis did a video with a man named Richard. Richard was 83 at the time. He had recently lost his wife due to Alzheimers, around the same time as Louis lost his mom. Richard had participated in many jobs over the years, but he also liked to sing. In the video, Louis helped Richard complete items on his bucket list. They flew a helicopter, drove a race car, he gave Louis a tattoo instead of receiving one (which was the original item), they went on a rollercoaster, and lastly performed at an arena during one of Louis’ concerts. The video at the end included organizations to donate for Alzheimers and Cancer research. Additionally, the music videos for “Kill My Mind,” “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart,” and “We Made It,” form a cohesive storyline and are combined in the director’s cut. The directors cut is 15 minutes and include moments of dialogue and complete the story. Louis has expressed that he was heavily involved in the complete creative process for this video.
My personal favorite songs on Walls are “Always You,” “Perfect Now,” “Defenceless,” and “Only the Brave.” I will forever believe that “Always You” should have been released as a single because I think it would have done great on the radio. That aside, I just think it’s a cute love song with great lyrics and a good beat. “Perfect Now,” is one of my comfort songs as the lyrics are easily relatable and uplifting. “Defenceless” is a huge fan favorite, including me. In February 2021, fans (Louies) created a fan project catapulting “Defenceless” to #1 on the iTunes worldwide chart. “Defenceless” features some of my favorite lyrics ever written. For example: “I come running to you like a moth into a flame,” and “We’re sleeping on our problems like we’ll solve them in our dreams; We wake up early morning and they’re still under the sheets.” Last but not least, “Only the Brave,” which is in my opinion, one of the best songs Louis has ever written. Louis’ style of writing is pretty straightforward, very few metaphors, and a relatively clear story or narrative. However, “Only the Brave” is almost entirely written in imagery and metaphors. Some of my favorite lyrics are: “Tall stories on the page; Short glories on the fade,” “It’s a church of burnt romances; And I’m too far gone to pray,” “All the lonely shadow dances; From the cradle to the grave.” “Only the Brave” is one of the most unique songs Louis has recorded. It is only one minute and forty four seconds long, and sounds like it is recorded in a closet as his voice sounds slightly muffled. With only two verses and the pre chorus and chorus sung once, the song feels unfinished and leaves the listener wanting more.
In December, 2020, Louis held an online concert. The concert was held through Veeps, an online concert company. All the proceeds went to four charities: Bluebell Wood Children’s Hospice (an organization that offers “palliative care and support to families who have a child or young person with a shortened life expectancy and complex medical needs”), Crew Nation (a global relief fund for live music crews), Fareshare (an organization that fights hunger and food waste in the UK), and Stagehands (a live production welfare and benevolent fund). With 160,000 tickets sold worldwide, he earned himself a Guinness World Record for most tickets sold for a live-streamed concert by a solo male artist. He raised more than $1 million for the charities.
On August 30, 2021 Louis held a completely free festival called “The Away from Home Festival” at the Crystal Palace Bowl in London. The lineup included Jess Iszatt, BILK, The Snuts, and of course Louis himself. The festival had a huge turnout with around 10,000 people in attendance. In order to get a ticket, there was a lottery. For those who could not go, he held a live stream of the event on September 4 as his entire set was recorded. In addition to his set, he also had a thirty minute documentary covering the process of the creation of the festival.
As a society, we need to get over the whole idea that boy bands are bad and only for teen girls. One Direction and the members during their solo careers have solidified their place in music history. Louis Tomlinson has created his own unique sound and made a name for himself and he is underappreciated.