“I’ll be coming back for you (back for you, back for you),” are the lyrics One Direction fans have been clinging onto since the band went on hiatus in 2016.
Now, Liam Payne has dropped the strongest hint yet that the group will reunite to mark their 10th anniversary.
“I’m not allowed to say too much obviously, because I’d be giving it away,” he told James Corden after the TV host reminded him of the milestone.
“But we’ve been speaking a lot more at the moment.”
Payne added: “I think that we’re all feeling that that 10 year[s] is a very special moment.”
The boy band formed on The X Factor in the UK in July 2010.
Payne confirmed he’d had a “beautiful” FaceTime call with Niall Horan and had also chatted with Louis Tomlinson.
The group went on to sell more than 50 million records around the world, with songs like What Makes You Beautiful, Best Song Ever and Story Of My Life.
Things started to unravel when Zayn Malik quit in the middle of a world tour in 2015, citing stress. He later called One Direction’s music “generic” and said it didn’t suit his tastes.
“There was just a general conception that the management already had of what they want for the band and I just wasn’t convinced with what we were selling,” he told Fader.
The rest of the band went on hiatus after promoting their fifth album Made In The AM in February 2016, and the break has now lasted for more than four years.
In the meantime, all five singers have launched solo projects with varying degrees of success.
Styles’ mystical take on 1970s soft rock has received the most critical acclaim, while Malik’s moody R&B singles have registered the equivalent of more than three million sales in the UK alone.
Tomlinson had been the quietest member, releasing sporadic singles and appearing as a judge on The X Factor in 2018. His debut solo album Walls finally arrived earlier this year and entered the top 10 in both the US and the UK.
Fans have longed for a reunion, and questions about their hiatus crop up in almost every interview the individual members give.
Last year, Horan said that, towards the end of One Direction’s five-year run of success, the singers were “knackered” and “nagging” each other.
“We were gonna end up killing each other,” he told the Telegraph. “We all sat down one day, had a chat and it was like, we need to take a break. Step back, chill out and try something new.”
Styles expressed similar sentiments in 2017, saying not only was he tired out, but he “didn’t want to exhaust our fanbase” with a constant cycle of new music and touring.
However, he remained open to the idea of a reunion, saying: “I love the band, and would never rule out anything in the future. The band changed my life, gave me everything.”
Whether all five members would put the past behind them for the band’s 10th anniversary, however, remains the big question.
Tomlinson in particular has spoken of his dismay at the way Malik bad-mouthed the group after leaving.
Asked last year whether he could ever forgive his former band-mate, Tomlinson told Metro: “I just don’t think I am mature enough, even in my own head, to give that a real answer. At the moment, I am still pretty mad about the whole thing.
“I don’t think [Zayn] handled it very well. But never say never. Who knows?”
An olive branch was extended earlier this week, when Tomlinson, Styles, Payne and Horan all re-followed Malik on Twitter.
Malik has yet to return the favour – but with the anniversary due on 23 July, the coronavirus lockdown will almost certainly disrupt any developing plans for new music or live shows.
Instead, Payne has hinted that a retrospective could be on the cards – potentially in the form of a documentary.
Speaking to The Sun, he said the band had been reviewing “old content and different things that we haven’t seen for a long time or never seen before”.
“There’s a number of different things that we are all working on to try and make happen and people are forwarding emails around,” he added.
“But more than anything it’s just been a real good time for us to connect together again.”
News sourced from: BBC