“If he stands out, then he could be the leader.”
The footage was released to mark the 12th anniversary of One Direction – which was formed on the show after each member initially unsuccessfully auditioned as a solo act. However, the timing is particularly relevant this year given Liam Payne’s recent comments about 1D’s formation.
It is worth providing important context here. Liam auditioned for the first time for The X Factor in 2008 and toured Simon Cowell’s house when he was just 14 years old. However, Simon didn’t believe he was ready at the time – and told him to go back to school and re-audition for the show in another two years.
Speaking on Logan Paul’s podcast last month, Liam said: “From what I’ve heard, part of the reason One Direction was created was because of the promise that Simon gave me. said, “In two years, I’ll make it work for you. ‘ So he started with my face, then worked on the rest… I was the honorary member of One Direction. He told me this story himself at home.”
The comments went viral, even Lizzo chimed in on her TikTok saying, “I don’t know who lied to that poor boy, but he was not the leader.”
So what does this new footage show? The 2010 clip begins with the judges sifting through a pile of images of male contestants, deciding which ones might be in “imaginary” groups together. Next, Nicole Scherzinger is seen moving a photo of Niall to the top of the painting.
“We loved him,” Louis says enthusiastically of a young Harry, to which Nicole suggests he be put with Niall.
“It’s the cutest boy band ever!” Nicole adds, as Louis’ photo is added to the stack. “Little girls will love them.”
“They’re just too talented to pull it off. And they have just the right look and the right charisma on stage,” she continues. “They’re like little stars, so you can’t get rid of little stars – you put them all together.”
Next comes the photo of Liam. “He was the standout audition,” Simon begins, before pointing to the group of boys selected to advance as individuals. “Don’t you think he should be there?”
“I don’t think so,” replies Nicole. “If he stands out, then he could be the leader.”
To this, Simon replies, “He thinks he’s better than anyone else on this list.”
“No, Simon. He has confidence in himself. But he’s good, he’s consistent,” said Louis Walsh in turn, before all the judges marveled at how well the four boys go together.
Judge Louis then suggests Zayn for the group, which everyone immediately agrees with. In the words of Simon: “Now this It’s a good idea !”
“That’s the category I want them,” he continues, which will eventually be true – Simon acted as a mentor for the groups category that year (and would sign them later after the show) .
So what does this mean for Liam’s recent claims? Well, the idea that One Direction “started with [his] face” doesn’t seem very accurate based on the clip – it’s Niall’s face, not Liam’s that is the initial building block. However, I think we can still safely assess two things: 1) Simon had Liam’s back when it came to staying on the show, per his earlier “promise” 2) It appears Liam was initially seen as the leader of the group.
You can watch the full clip for yourself here.