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One Direction’s fifth album, Made in the A.M., hits retailers on Friday — and to celebrate the massively popular boy band’s last album before going on a hiatus, EW caught up with the group to learn about the songs, albums, and artists that have inspired them over the years. Below, Niall Horan shares his picks. For more, here’s Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, and Liam Payne.
When Niall Horan first hit the The X Factor U.K. stage in 2010, performing Ne-Yo’s “So Sick,” he received mixed reviews from the judges’ panel. It was thanks to guest judge Katy Perry, who insisted he just needed time to grow, that he made the cut.
Now, in One Direction, Horan easily stands as most improved, having clearly worked over the years to perfect his singing, guitar-playing, and songwriting, effortlessly picking up a number of Zayn Malik’s vocals when he left the group back in March. On Made in the A.M., Horan boasts not just songwriting and composing credits — “I’m always kind of puttering around the studio,” Horan tells EW — but instrumental credits, as well. Below, he shares the musical inspirations that led to his contribution to the band’s most expertly executed record to date.
THE ARTISTS THAT HAVE MOST INSPIRED ME: The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac
“My favorite band of all time is the Eagles. They’ve influenced me in the stuff I listen to now and the way I write,” says Horan, adding that listeners should keep an ear out for some of that inspiration Made in the A.M.
THE SONGS I WISH I HAD WRITTEN: “Hotel California” and “Desperado” by the Eagles, “Imagine” by John Lennon, and “I Got a Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas
Horan says that there are “plenty” of songs that he wishes he had written himself, but once again, the Eagles take center stage for “Hotel California” and “Desperado.” He also cites John Lennon’s “Imagine.” “Just great melodies, great songs,” he says, adding with a laugh that he doesn’t know the lyrics offhand, so, “Please don’t read too much into that. I don’t know, I could have gotten that wrong, here.”
He also jokes — or maybe not? — that he wishes he had written “I Got a Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas, which was “the song of the summer when I was about 14.”
THE SONGS I’M MOST PROUD OF: “Never Enough,” “Don’t Forget Where You Belong”
Horan insists this isn’t his choice just because he wrote it, but “Never Enough” is the song he’s most proud of on MITAM.“It was kind of a new sound that we had never tried before and I had never really written in that sound, either. When you hear the song you’ll know what I mean, ” he explains. “It’s very different. I was happy with the way we had written it, and the way we came about it. We were just on the piano one night in Julian [Bunetta, writer-producer]’s house, and we were sitting around and having a couple of beers and then it just kinda popped up on the piano and it’s now played by trumpets. So, when things like that happen, you feel proud.”
He adds that “Don’t Forget Where You Belong” is the track he’s most proud of from the previous four 1D albums. No big surprise for concertgoers — in live shows, Horan used to precede the Midnight Memories track with a speech expressing his gratitude for how far they’ve come, while reminding fans that the band has not forgotten their roots. The song, written by Horan along with McFly, “gets a good reaction during [live] shows, and yeah, when I was writing it there was a lot of sentiment behind it.”
MY GO-TO KARAOKE JAM: “With You” by Chris Brown and “I Want It That Way” Backstreet Boys
“I have a few [go-to karaoke songs]. I never give back the mic once I start,” Horan admits. “I always sing Chris Brown’s ‘With You’ for some reason. I remember singing that in a talent show when I was about 14. And then of course, you can’t step away from Backstreet Boys, either. ‘I Want It That Way.’ ” Boy-band game recognize boy-band game.
THE FIRST SONG I EVER PERFORMED IN PUBLIC: Songs from Oliver!
Brown’s “With Love” was an early public performance for Horan — “I’m very R&B, as you can tell,” he jokes — but prior to that, he participated in a school production of Oliver! when he was “around 10,” so, “a few songs from that.”