1D's Liam Payne Might Be Going Solo

by Alex Kritselis

One Direction's hiatus just started, but one band member doesn't seem to be taking a break: Liam Payne might be going solo. Whoa. As soon as 1D's hiatus was announced in August, the guys made it clear that they would be free to pursue outside musical projects, and many people (myself included) suspected Harry Styles would be the first singer to strike out on his own. Instead, Payne appears to have beat him to the punch.

As Complex reports, Payne and rapper Juicy J have recorded new music together — and it's supposedly coming soon. The former Three 6 Mafia MC broke the news on Twitter Monday, much to the surprise of casual 1D fans. (However, hardcore Directioners likely saw the announcement coming: As Complex points out, Juicy J posted a studio pic with Payne on Instagram all the way back in January.) Juicy J told MTV that he had recorded seven tracks with Payne during a red-carpet interview at the Grammys in February, but it's currently unknown if they've worked on any more since then.

Payne has used the monikers "Big Payno" and "DJ Payno" to remix other artists' songs for a couple of years now, so it's entirely possible he acted solely as a producer for Juicy J. In other words, his vocals may not be featured on their collaborations. But, it's also entirely possible that he's preparing to launch a solo career. After all, Juicy J is no stranger to the pop world: his 2013 single with Katy Perry, "Dark Horse," was a massive, No. 1 hit!

If Payne is, in fact, going solo, here are three reasons why the venture could be a huge success:

He Has A Fantastic Voice

I was sad when vocal powerhouse Zayn Malik left One Direction in March, but I took comfort in knowing that Payne would still be around to belt out those killer ad-libs at the end of each of the group's power ballads. As a solo artist, his impressive vocal chops would certainly make him stand out (and I think his voice would suit a variety of styles and genres, too).

He's Pretty Damn Charming

Yes, Payne does seem to have a habit of putting his foot in his mouth, but it's hard not to be charmed by his sweet voice and his off-the-charts adorable smile. I mean, c'mon, just look at this dude:

He definitely has ~***star power***~, that's for sure.

He Has A Musical Mind

As I already mentioned, Payne moonlights as a DJ/producer in his spare time — and he's a gifted songwriter, too. Payne has co-written songs for One Direction since the very beginning of their career, including hits like "Story of My Life" and "Night Changes." On the band's latest LP, Made in the A.M., he co-penned six tracks: "What a Feeling," "End of the Day," "Long Way Down," "Wolves," "A.M.," and "History."

If Payne does try going it alone, securing a skilled management team to help him navigate the tricky transition from "boybander" to solo artist would probably be essential. But, having a keen ear for Top 40 pop and a clear creative vision would be crucial, as well. Fortunately, Payne would bring both of those strengths to the table.

So, will Payne become one of 2016's breakout solo stars? I think he has what it takes! Rest assured, I'll keep an eye out for further developments.

Images: Giphy (2)