Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Niall Horan had never crossed paths before they found themselves competing against each other as soloists on X Factor.
Yet just a few short months later, thanks to an amazing twist of fate, the teenagers comprise the country's hottest boyband and are embarking on a career that is sure to turn global, working with some of the greatest producers in the music industry today.
During the ten weeks of live shows, One Direction covered songs as diverse as Natalie Imbruglia's 'Torn', Coldplay's 'Viva La Vida', Kelly Clarkson's 'My Life Would Suck Without You', Kim Wilde's 'Kids In America' and Snow Patrol's 'Chasing Cars'.
They were voted into third place and say they had mixed feelings: disappointed at not winning, but aware of how far they had come since those days practicing in a bungalow with no idea how to harmonise.
There was no question that the group would disband or give up their dreams. They were called to a meeting with Simon Cowell after a Christmas back home with their families in their respective homes: Liam (Wolverhampton), Harry (Cheshire), Louis (Doncaster), Zayn (Bradford), and Niall (Westmeath, Ireland), and told they were to be signed to Syco.
Harry says: "Simon Cowell was telling you your life was about to change! It was weird.”
Louis adds: "We came from nothing, and had no experience as a group at all. By the time we came to the end of the show, we were a completely different group. We worked so hard, and achieved so much. We also became really close mates – we’re just all so grateful that we got along so well from the start. It’s quite sad actually – even when we go home now or have a day off, we are still texting each other!“
After some discussion they knuckled down to record with legendary names including Steve Mac, who has worked with Westlife, JLS and Leona Lewis; Rami Yacoub (Backstreet Boys, Bon Jovi, Britney Spears), and Matt Squire (Good Charlotte, 3OH!3, Panic! At The Disco, HIM).
Other producers credited on the album include Toby Gad (Beyonce, Fergie, Alicia Keys, The Veronicas), Red One (Lady Gaga, Sean Kingston, Jennifer Lopez), and Savan Kotecha, the X Factor vocal coach who has worked with the likes of Britney Spears, Usher and Enrique Iglesias.
Niall says: "These guys are amazing. Basically, name one of the biggest hits of the past ten years, and the guys we worked with will be behind them. "To even meet them was incredible. To work with them was even better!"
Their single, What Makes You Beautiful (Rami Yacoub / Carl Falk / Savan Kotecha) was released on September 11 with the biggest pre-order in Sony single history. It landed in at number one and had the highest first-week sales of the year, shifting 153,000 copies in seven days.
The long-awaited album is out now, and the boys hope it will appeal to fans of both sexes and all ages. Louis says: "I want people to listen to it and say, 'Wow, is that One Direction?'. It’s not too cheesy - I think it’s the kind of album that guys will like as well as girls
“I'd like to surprise people. We're not a typical boyband." Zayn adds: "It's upbeat, and has a really distinct One Direction sound.
“We've all got quite different sounding voices and our own individual style, so we can play up to that and play to each of our strengths.“
Outside of music, the boys are proud to be Ambassadors for Nintendo, and their second book, Dare to Dream, was released on September 15 and shot straight to Number one.
One Direction have already achieved a great deal in such a short space of time. And if their meteoric rise to stardom continues at the pace it began, it won't be long before One Direction are global icons.