One Direction and The Wanted: If they can make it there...

British boybands One Direction and The Wanted have taken the US – and the pages of The New Yorker – by storm. Tim Walker charts their stateside success

The Beatles did it. The Stones did, too. Bizarrely, Bush managed it, where Oasis and Take That never could, nor Westlife, Boyzone or 5ive. Coldplay cracked it, and so – oh, dear – did the Spice Girls. Now, without question, One Direction and The Wanted have both joined the short list of British bands that have "broken" America.

Although Britain's two hottest boybands already have high profiles in the US, they leapt this week from the safety of the pop charts into the hallowed pages of The New Yorker, North America's leading highbrow magazine – featuring in two separate pieces for the latest issue. Despite having long been lodged in the minds of excitable teenagers, they've now finally arrived in the consciousness of the intellectual elite.

In March, Simon Cowell's protégés One Direction became the first British pop band in history to enter the US album charts at No 1 with their debut LP. The band are due to headline Madison Square Garden, Manhattan's premier music venue, in December. Hasbro is planning to produce a set of One Direction action figures.

The success of Up All Night, which has now sold more than a million copies and more than five million digitally downloaded tracks, saw them frequently compared to The Beatles, who first arrived in America at the head of the "British Invasion" in 1964.

"You laugh about it," said One Direction band member Zayn Malik soon after its release, "someone comparing you to such a huge phenomenon."

New Yorker music writer Sasha Frere-Jones suggests One Direction's success was built on social media and the influence of the internet, and that, unlike boybands of the past, their appeal is laddish, their role models rock stars, not R&B crooners. "What One Direction really sounds like, though," Frere-Jones writes, "is a bunch of girls."

If One Direction are The Beatles, then The Wanted are the Stones, self-consciously gritty by comparison. Not so gritty, though, that their single "Glad You Came" couldn't appear in an episode of Glee, and subsequently rise to the top five of the US singles chart. They appear in a New Yorker article about their manager, Scooter Braun, who also represents Justin Bieber. Indeed, there is speculation that the likes of One Direction might have been marketed so heavily in the States as potential replacements for tween titan Bieber, who at 18 could well be approaching his best-before date.

Might this explain his strange backstage game, recounted by New Yorker writer Lizzie Widdicombe, of "playfully jabbing everyone in the crotch with his fist"? When Bieber "jabbed at Siva Kaneswaran, a member of The Wanted, he connected. He called out, 'Got you, bro.'" No wonder he's so popular.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum