Louis Tomlinson recently released a track and music video for his latest single, “We Made It.” The pop punk ballad is one of the 12 songs on Tomlinson’s much anticipated debut solo album, “Walls.” The record picks up with a soft echo of guitar strings and transforms into a heartfelt tribute to the singer’s former boy band, One Direction.
The 27-year-old auditioned for the X-Factor, a British singing competition, in 2009. If only he had known then how drastically his life would change in the years to follow.
Simon Cowell was one of the judges on the show to vouch for the formation of what would become one of the biggest boy bands since the Beatles. One Direction was officially born in 2010 where Tomlinson joined Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Zayn Malik for the duration of the competition. While the quintet did not win, they went on to record several albums, create mass hysteria among their fan base and become global sensations.
There was a sort of air around the five boys that had never been seen before. From a bird’s eye view, one could see each of them were pop stars in their own right. However, at the core of One Direction, the boys were simply boys. These kids were the same funny, kind-hearted boys that you could sit next to in algebra class and goof around with.
Ultimately, it was both their star quality and rawness which made them so captivating.
The glamour of it all was evident, but beyond the arena shows and nonstop awards was a world that went completely unnoticed. The boys were struggling as artists with creative freedom, exploitation and fame. In “We Made It,” Tomlinson paints a vivid picture of what the experience was like for him as someone who was thrown into the music industry at such a young age.
Tomlinson writes in the second verse of the song, “Oh God, what I could’ve become / Don’t know why they put this all on us when we were so young / Done a pretty good job / dealing with it all when you’re here, don’t need to say no more.”
In an interview with Zach Sings, Tomlinson gives a raw and honest account of the boy band’s journey. An expectation for the band had been set, and each member was held accountable for promotion and pumping out songs constantly. Tomlinson spoke of how unaware the band was in the process of making music.
“They [the recording label and management] did put a lot of stress on us but as I said, I think we did a pretty good job,” he told Sings. “We were at that age where it was all we knew — to work like crazy. It was just such a blur. So many great things were happening. I don’t think we were actually conscious of really grinding. We were just going. Just loving it.”
The boys were at the brink of stardom as teens who still had a ton of room to grow as individuals. While most kids were in school preparing for the junior high dance, the members of One Direction were singing on world tours and breaking the Internet with their album singles back-to-back. Tomlinson’s raw depiction, however, is anything but penitent.
— Louis Tomlinson (@Louis_Tomlinson) October 23, 2019
He sings, “Nothing in the world I would change it for / Singing poppy on the same four chords / Used to worry bout it, but I don’t no more / Yeah, cause we made it.”
Not all band members could look back on the experience with such fondness, but Tomlinson carries no such regret. Despite the loss of a member and various challenges in the group, the star said the memories were something he would always carry with him.
One Direction went on hiatus after coming back from another world tour in 2016. Tomlinson was taken aback by the news but complied with intentions of reuniting at some point in time.
Following the temporary split, most of the members released solo albums in various genres such as pop and R&B. Tomlinson will be the last of One Direction to release his debut album and head out on tour in 2020.
The “Two of Us” singer reportedly spent 18 months writing, exploring new sounds and working on the album. According to the star, it was difficult to find his voice after being part of the band for so long. What little experience he had within the industry was spent and shared alongside his bandmates and naturally, it took Tomlinson a long time to figure out what sound best represented him.
In a recent interview with “Build,” he talked about his adjustment to his solo career, chasing radio hits and how he debated even going down the same route as his bandmates did.
He told the interviewer, “I spent a long trying to find exactly what my sound was. To be fair, when I first went out on my own, I wasn’t even sure I was definitely going to make a solo record. One thing led to another. I kind of had to learn on the job who I am as an artist.”
— SiriusXM Hits 1 (@SiriusXMHits1) October 25, 2019
“We Made It” was one of the first songs Tomlinson wrote for the album and the most difficult for him to finish. It was partially inspired by the moments he had in the band. Another aspect of the song was the singer expressing his gratitude for the dedicated fan base that still supports him even as a solo artist.
Granted, the boy band’s hiatus announcement came as a shock to the fans as well. Tomlinson was aware of how disheartening the news was and decided to dedicate his single to them just as they had dedicated their support to the band for years.
The Doncaster native told Elvis Duran, “It originally started as a message between me and the fans — that feeling that I’m gonna get at that first tour at Barcelona. They have been so patient, and I feel like that’s going to be a collective feeling.”