The One Direction singer turned 22 years old on Saturday, so let's celebrate the moments when he was Peak Payne

By Amanda Michelle Steiner
Updated August 29, 2015 at 06:53 PM EDT
Credit: John Parra/WireImage

Liam Payne first auditioned for The X Factor U.K. as a solo artist when he was just 14, and Simon Cowell cut him loose at judges’ houses because he felt the singer was too young for the pressures ahead. When Payne auditioned two years later with a rendition of Arthur Hamilton’s “Cry Me a River,” it was with a pitch-perfect, adorably try-hard performance that would set the stage for the rest of his career. When he joined One Direction, he was the band’s most seasoned and vocally flexible performer, the latter quality becoming more clear to concert audiences following Zayn Malik’s departure from the band earlier this year.

Ever since, Payne has stepped up and effortlessly shouldered the bulk of that weight in such a way you’d never know the band had performed for nearly five years as a five-piece. Despite his skill, millions of fans, and his influence (he brought chicken fries back to Burger King even though he wasn’t even tweeting about chicken fries but “chicken, fries”), Payne remains a down-to-earth labradoodle whose enthusiasm for his work is palpable, refreshing, and endearing.

In celebration of his 22nd birthday, here on Aug. 29, we rounded up some of his most GIF-able moments, a task which was truly harrowing in the decision-making and editing-down process.

Whenever he twirls onstage like a top …

… and there’s not much he loves more than a well-executed mic flip

It’s not as easy as he makes it look, as Harry Styles can demonstrate:

Sometimes fans like to throw costumes and props onto the stage. Liam likes to wear them like he’s in an episode of Whose Line

Though he used to be The Serious One, Liam enjoys nothing more than acting like a feral hyena child with Louis onstage …

But Liam knows when to surrender.

… indeed, Louis once ripped open Liam’s shirt onstage for reasons we may never truly comprehend but for which we are eternally grateful

Seriously. Why did this happen? We’ve previously attempted to investigate — for Journalism Reasons — but that day remains a mysterious fever dream.

We must also recognize Liam’s Very Important Method Acting in the “Drag Me Down” video

… and speaking of method acting, who can forget Liam flopping up the stairs sideways for the Between Us fragrance commercial?

He is basically sunshine personified ….

… and sometimes he loves laughing so much that he just has to grab his own butt about it …

… and Liam’s even cheerful when working out, which has got to be a miracle of science …

The latter two GIFs were gratuitous but I’m not sorry.

… but be warned: He’s also a dangerous hug dealer

And no … you are the one who is crying over the meaning of Liam’s most visible tattoos

Switching gears a little bit, Liam sometimes low-key auditions for Magic Mike 3

And remember when he worked it in a fan-made T-shirt on the runway for 1D Day?

Speaking of 1D Day, we could use a repeat.

Also, there’s whatever … this … is …

… as well as this particular habit

Seriously, what is up with this band?

But most importantly, Liam should be celebrated for giving his all. He always goes the extra mile during live shows to switch up the songs as heard on the albums, sending the assembled thousands into screams

Okay, so these weren’t GIFs.

Finally, despite our best efforts, our round-up could never compare to Harry’s own birthday wishes for Liam

Happy birthday, Liam! We’re not sorry about any of this.

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