In news sure to further shatter the hearts of One Direction fans everywhere, on Thursday, June 23, Billboard reported that Harry Styles has gone solo, having signed a solo artist deal with Columbia Records. Though Styles himself has neither confirmed nor denied the reports (Bustle has reached out for comment from Styles' rep but hasn't heard back at this time), considering the current circumstances surrounding One Direction and Styles' increasing career trajectory, it seems likely to be true. One Direction were already dealt a blow to their unity earlier in the year when former bandmate Zayn Malik also went solo, and the band have been on a "break" since 2015. Though the news of Styles' solo career will come as no surprise to fans, it will hardly comfort them for the future of One Direction, either. Fans shouldn't too concerned, however, with Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson as the remaining band members, it could be that Styles' career move has come at a time when the rest of One Direction are considering getting back together.
Historically, boy bands have always been met with the crisis of a member leaving, and a lot of these bands have continued to perform without them. Though these groups have often continued on with mixed results, it has to be remembered that One Direction are one of the biggest boy bands of all time; if the remaining members of any pop group can continue on with strength and resilience, then it's them. In order to (somewhat accurately) predict the chances of One Direction getting back together any time soon, it's best to look at how other boy bands have survived the blow of losing their very own versions of Styles:
Member That Left: Justin Timberlake
What Happened: Sadly, the remaining members of *NSYNC didn't continue on without Timberlake. Instead they threw in the towel, released a Greatest Hits album and made us all cry whilst they all individually pursued careers which didn't involve a single marionette dance routine. They did redeem themselves, however, by reuniting for a one-off performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards.
Member That Left: Michael McCary
What Happened: Though McCary left the band in 2003 due to health reasons rather than to pursue a solo career, it's still heartening to remember that the remaining members maintained the band following his departure, and have continued to perform as a trio ever since.
Member That Left: Nick Carter
What Happened: In 2002, Carter decided to pursue a solo career whilst the rest of the group worked on their next album without him. By 2005, however, he was back in the band and performing with them again. Band mate Kevin Richardson also left the band soon after Carter's return, but rejoined them permanently in 2012. Who said being in a boy band was simple?
Member That Left: Omarion
What Happened: Though the band's split came before Omarion's solo career, talk of internal disagreements within the band were thought to be largely to blame. The band never reunited, with members accusing their manager, Chris Stokes, of "business improprieties". Omarion, on the other hand, kept Stokes on his team, hiring him as his manager for his solo career.
Member That Left: Robbie Williams
What Happened: Take That may not have been a big deal in the US but over in Britain they were the only boy band worth screaming for. After Williams left, the band soldiered on, releasing hit single, "Never Forget" and completing a US tour, however they eventually disbanded soon after. However, the band surprisingly reunited ten years later to reform as a quartet and have since been enjoying great success in Britain (Williams even briefly rejoined the band in 2010).
Member That Left: Um... Kind of a lot of them
What Happened: Menudo are one of the most unique boy bands of all time who were active from 1977 all the way until 2009. Their trick? They employed a rolling roster of new members who replaced departed members as and when they left (perhaps that could be a viable tactic for One Direction to consider?). Their most famous member, Ricky Martin, is perhaps the only one to have successfully gone on to maintain something of a successful solo career for himself.
New Kids On The Block
Member That Left: Jonathan Knight
What Happened: After experiencing intense spells of increasing anxiety, Jonathan left NKOTB and soon after, the rest of the band decided to split. Though, his brother Jordan and Joey McIntyre both pursued solo careers (with varied success), continued attempts to reunite the band were a struggle to eventuate due in some part to Jonathan's refusal to join them. However, by 2008, the band was back together, recording and even touring.
Fans can learn from the lessons of the past; not all boy bands call it quits as soon as someone leaves, and a break-up isn't always forever. At the very least, through the positive and negative possibilities of One Direction's current hiatus, if there's one thing that the history of boy bands of has definitely taught us is that we can all probably look forward to a 1D reunion in about ten years' time.