Biography of Niall Horan

Irish Singer-Songwriter and One Direction Member

Niall Horan
Niall Horan. Photo by Cooper Neil / Getty Images

Niall Horan ( born September 13, 1993 )  became a member of One Direction after first being eliminated from X Factor as a solo artist. They were one of the most successful boy bands of all time. Following the group's breakup, he released his first solo recordings in 2016.

Early Years

Niall James Horan grew up in Mullingar, Ireland. The town is located centrally in the country, to the west of Dublin.

His parents were divorced when he was five years old. Initially, Niall and his brother Greg Horan moved back and forth between the homes of his parents. Eventually, he chose to live with his father. He taught himself to play guitar from YouTube videos using a guitar Greg had received as a gift. Niall Horan first began performing in public as a teenager.

Personal Life

Niall Horan is a sports fan and an eager participant, particularly in football where he sustained an ongoing injury to his knee. He caddied for professional golfer Rory McIlroy in the Par 3 contest before the 2015 Masters Tournament. He is also a supporter of the Irish Cricket Team and the Derby County Football Club. In April 2016 he joined the Soccer Aid all-star fundraiser to benefit UNICEF. His team included Nicky Byrne of the boy band Westlife and celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay. They played against a team that featured Niall's One Direction bandmate Louis Tomlinson.

Horan has been linked romantically to many women. Many of the rumors have been proven false, but some are believed to be true. In 2016, he appeared in public with Belgian girlfriend Celine Helene Vandycke. Late in the year, Niall revealed that he was single again, and rumors of a relationship with singer Selena Gomez took flight.

X Factor

At age 16, in 2010, Niall Horan auditioned for the British singing competition show "X Factor" in Dublin. He received mixed reactions from the judges for his performance of "So Sick," but guest judge Katy Perry put him through to boot camp on a split verdict. He failed to qualify as a finalist after singing Oasis' "Champagne Supernova," but along with Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik, he was put into a new group by the judges. They were coached by Simon Cowell. Adopting the name One Direction, the group finished third overall behind Rebecca Ferguson and winner Matt Cardle.

One Direction

The boy band One Direction quickly became an international success. Their first studio album "Up All Night" hit #1 in both the US and the UK. It made One Direction the first British recording act to debut at #1 on the US album chart with their first release. The group soon became one of the most successful boy bands of all time. By 2015, Fortune listed One Direction as the fourth highest-earning celebrities in the world bringing in $130 million in the previous year.

One Direction was the first group to have their first four albums debut at #1 on the US album chart. The first four albums all have sold more than one million copies in the US.

Six singles hit the pop top 10 in the US. At home in the UK, fourteen One Direction singles reached the top 10. The fifth studio album "Made In the A.M." was less successful than its predecessors in the US only reaching #2 on the album chart. One Direction announced a hiatus beginning January 2016. 

Niall Horan was a co-writer, along with his fellow group members, of many of One Direction's songs including the critically acclaimed top 10 hit "Story Of My Life." He also played guitar on some of the group's recordings.

Solo Singles

  • "This Town" (2016): After One Direction first announced their hiatus, Niall Horan spent three months traveling the world before he settled in to create his own solo music. He co-wrote the song "This Town" with frequent One Direction collaborator Jamie Scott, Mike Needle, and Daniel Bryer. The record was produced by Greg Kurstin, Grammy Award nominee for his work with Adele, Sia, and Kelly Clarkson. "This Town" was lauded for its folk-influenced sincerity. Niall Horan is friends with Ed Sheeran, and the latter's influence on the song has often been mentioned. "This Town" reached #9 on the UK pop singles chart and climbed into the top 20 in the US. It was also a hit across adult contemporary, adult pop, and mainstream top 40 radio. 
  • "Slow Hands" (2017): The song "Slow Hands" was added when Niall Horan decided he wanted something grittier and funkier on his debut album. It has a stronger R&B feel with a heavy bass sound. It was inspired by the early solo work of the Eagles' Don Henley. "Slow Hands" surpassed the commercial success of "This Town." It climbed to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 while hitting the top of the adult pop and mainstream pop radio charts. It also went all the way to #1 on the dance chart. It has been certified platinum for sales in the U.S. Niall performed it live at the June 4, 2017, One Love Manchester concert to benefit the victims of the Manchester Arena bombing.
  • "Too Much to Ask" (2017): This is the third single from the debut album "Flicker." It was released in September 2017 just before the album. It is a gentle ballad about longing for an ex-girlfriend. Horan has stated that it is one of his personal favorite songs on the album. "Too Much to Ask" broke into the top 20 on both adult pop and mainstream pop radio in the U.S.

Solo Artist

Niall Horan stands out from his fellow band members in One Direction visually. He is the only blonde member of the band. His origin as the only Irish member makes him distinct from the others as well. Through the years of the group's success, he has made it clear that he is very interested in songwriting. Many observers now believe that his solo work will give Niall Horan the opportunity to say things in songs that he couldn't as part of One Direction.

The storytelling in "This Town" was the first step.

Horan released his first solo album "Flicker" in October 2017. He stated that his music was influenced by the 1970s pop-rock of the groups Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. The album was a commercial success. It debuted at #1 on the U.S. album chart. Country singer Maren Morris appeared on the song "Seeing Blind" from the album. Niall performed it live with her at the Country Music Association Awards in November 2017. They also collaborated on her song "I Could Use a Love Song."

Niall Horan set out on his first solo concert tour in August 2017. It included twenty dates mostly in North America. The show received strong positive reviews from critics. His second tour, the "Flicker World Tour," is scheduled to begin in March 2018. It is a world tour covering Europe, North America, Asia, and Latin America.