Zayn Malik Leaves One Direction (and the Internet Mourns)

Zayn Malik, 1/5th of the enormously popular singing group One Direction, has decided to take his leave of the act; citing stress and a desire for normalcy as his reasons.

The statement he released explaining his decision was rather straightforward:

My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined.

But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart.

I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.

The band first came together on the British version of Simon Cowell‘s The X Factor talent competition program. They were five separate contestants who the show convinced to team up and compete as a unified force in the program’s “group” category.

While they only came in third place on the show, if you know a girl under the age of 15 you’re probably already aware that this had little impact on their career trajectory. For the past five years they have been the pop heartthrobs to beat; selling out stadiums around the world to millions of adoring fans.

Malik is currently engaged to singer Perrie Edwards, of the British girl group Little Mix. The media hubbub which seems to have precipitated Malik’s departure from 1D started recently when Malik was pictured seemingly holding hands with another woman while out partying in Thailand. The gossip pages seized upon the story, and this is said to have been something of a straw which broke the camel’s back. More about all of that can be read here.

One Direction’s publicist released this statement, on behalf of the group’s four remaining members:

After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction. Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year.

One Direction have reliably been a top trending topic on Twitter, for years now, whenever they’ve so much as sneezed. As could be imagined, this topic — and variations, memes, and jokes spun off from it — have dominated the trends since news of Malik’s departure hit the Web.

Below is our PeekScore list of the five lads of One Direction, as they were only a few short days ago (the cutesy description provided for each member may be a bit dated now, and date back to their earlier days).

While all five of these gentleman are insanely famous at the moment — each with well in excess of 10 million followers on Twitter, and each new day finding at least one of them trending throughout cyberspace — there are gradations to their varying online prominences.

Below, we break it down using our scale, and show you which of these adored young crooners has been making the greatest impact here on the Web, and how he compares to the rest. Also, click on through the items on the list, and visit their PeekYou profiles, where you’ll find links to all sorts of fun stuff, fan stuff, social stuff, and multimedia stuff.

Rank Picture Name Which One? PeekScore

Harry Styles The Most Famous One 10.00 / 10.00

Zayn Malik The Quiet One 10.00 / 10.00

Niall Horan The Irish One 10.00 / 10.00

Louis Tomlinson The Talkative One 10.00 / 10.00

Liam Payne The Mature One 10.00 / 10.00