From “Slow Hands” To “Kiwi”: We Rank Every Solo One Direction Song

Mike Nied | November 27, 2019 10:00 am

The boys of One Direction have been busy since going on hiatus in early 2016. In the years that followed, ZAYN, Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Liam Payne have all embarked on solo careers. And the superstars have all explored a variety of different sounds in the process. By early 2020, each member will have dropped at least one album. Which means that it’s the perfect time to look back and rank all of the singles we’ve gotten so far. How does “Slow Hands” compare to “Strip That Down” or “Pillowtalk”? What about “Two Of Us” and “Sign Of The Times”? Dive into our ranking below and find out.

Also, make sure to bookmark this story. We’ll get it updated with each new release. Right now it’s current through “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart,” but we have a feeling that more is on the way.

51. “Get Low” – Liam Payne feat. Zedd

“Hands on your waist, let’s go.”

Nothing about this instantly dated dud worked when it dropped, and it hasn’t gotten better with age.

50. “Strip That Down” – Liam Payne feat. Quavo

“You know I used to be in 1D.”

Liam’s released some great songs since going solo, and it is hard to fathom how “Strip That Down” remains his most successful. It’s great to toss on a mindless gym mix but not much else.

49. “First Time” – Liam Payne feat. French Montana

“Girl you a savage, you ain’t no lady.”

It’s just easier to forget the entire First Time EP exists seeing as it brings nothing new to the table.

48. “A Whole New World” – ZAYN feat. Zhavia or Becky G

“I can show you the world. Shining, shimmering, splendid.”

ZAYN’s interpretation of “A Whole New World” is perfectly nice. However, even the Spanglish version with Becky G feels too much like karaoke to warrant a spot higher on this list.

47. “Just Like You” – Louis Tomlinson

“Yeah, I get sad, too.”

Louis makes some points about how we’ll never understand the life of a massive star. However, instead of making him more relatable this comes across as slightly grating and contrived.

46. “Entertainer” – ZAYN

“Don’t you play me for a fool. In this game I own the rules.”

One of the approximately 300 singles ZAYN dropped off Icarus Falls, this petty bop doesn’t measure up quite as well as some of the other options.

45. “Polaroid” – Liam Payne feat. Jonas Blue and Lennon Stella

“We loved and got lost in the moment.”

Liam’s collaboration with Jonas Blue and Lennon Stella features a deceptively bright production that offsets the bittersweet edge associated with a fleeting connection.

44. “Fingers” – ZAYN

“My fingers ain’t working, but my heart is.”

None of the One Direction boys do doom and gloom as well as ZAYN as evidenced by his shadowy commentary on love and loss in the digital age.

43. “No Candle No Light” – ZAYN feat. Nicki Minaj

“Can’t handle my love, can’t handle your lies.”

Z’s collaboration with Nicki Minaj got lost in the onslaught of promotional singles. And it’s not hard to understand why. There’s nothing wrong with the synth-driven anthem, but the superstar pair is capable of more.

42. “Still Got Time” – ZAYN feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR

“Come give it to me.”

This duet with PARTYNEXTDOOR features a danceable beat and one of ZAYN’s more uplifting themes. It’s a shame it never got much of a push because it likely could have enjoyed a respectable run on the charts.

41. “Flames” – ZAYN feat. R3HAB and Jungleboi

“You better run from me before I take your soul.”

This stomping anthem takes Z to the dance floor after an extended build up. His voice shines through it all.

40. “It’s You” – ZAYN

“She don’t give a fuck about what I need.”

“Still Got Time” was a nice respite from the darkness, but that returns in full force on “It’s You.” A love song (admittedly this one is about a clearly toxic relationship) has rarely sounded more like a funereal dirge than it does on this slowly unraveling cut.

39. “Rumors” – ZAYN feat. Sabrina Claudio

“All these rumors spreading around, and I kinda like the way they sound.”

Hearsay becomes reality on Sabrina Claudio and ZAYN’s slinky duet. The pair finds an easy chemistry here, and the end result is a lush and unsurprisingly (I mean, look at them) sexy affair.

38. “Cruel” – ZAYN feat. Snakeships

“It’s such a cruel world, saving all my love for you.”

Alt-leaning R&B may be Z’s comfort zone. However, his few explorations into electro-pop give a sense that he is just as capable of picking up a career as a dance commander. That said, I could do without the porn star-esque squeal that pops up throughout this number.

37. “Finally Free” – Niall Horan

“When you’re with me it feels like I’m finally free.”

Niall’s contribution to the Smallfoot soundtrack is the sort of undeniable anthem he does oh so well. This one has an understandably cutesy edge, making it an obvious fit for the animated film if a little amateur in comparison to the rest of his discography.

36. “Stack It Up” – Liam Payne feat. A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie

“If you wanna stack it up, man, you gotta work for it.”

“Stack It Up” signifies a return to the urban-pop of “Strip That Down.” However, there’s a playful edge to the cash-starved bop that provides more staying power.

35. “Bedroom Floor” – Liam Payne

“You said it was over, but your clothes say different on my bedroom floor.”

There’s no denying the marimba on “Bedroom Floor.” This is bro-pop done very, very right.

34. “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” – ZAYN feat. Taylor Swift

“Baby, baby. I feel crazy.”

While serviceable, ZAYN and Taylor’s contribution to the Fifty Shades saga isn’t particularly sexy and lacks the chemistry to make it truly romantic. You’d think one or the other would be mandatory when a song lands on the soundtrack for a film about a BDSM love story.

33. “All I Want (For Christmas)” – Liam Payne

“If we can make it through December, maybe we’ll make it through forever.”

Festive output doesn’t always have to be holly and jolly as evidenced by this frosty but still hopeful ballad, which makes a nice addition to Liam’s LP1.

32. “On The Loose” – Niall Horan

“She loves the way they all crawl back when she says that she loves nobody else but you.”

A striding anthem, “On The Loose” was obviously destined for the single treatment seeing as it’s a clear highlight on Flicker.

31. “Just Hold On” – Louis Tomlinson feat. Steve Aoki

“Darling, just hold on.”

For his debut solo single Louis hit the club with Steve Aoki, and the end result is an uplifting and meaningful bop.

30. “Let Me” – ZAYN

“Sweet baby, our sex has meaning.”

This loved-up gem throws it back to the sugary R&B of the early aughts (think Ne-Yo circa “So Sick) in a way I unabashedly stan.

29. “Trampoline” – ZAYN feat. SHAED

“I never land, just float there.”

Sometimes it’s better not to mess with perfection. However, SHAED’s update on “Trampoline” is even better than the original thanks to the addition of ZAYN’s otherworldly vocals.

28. “We Made It” – Louis Tomlinson

“Never coming down.”

This nostalgia-inducing anthem picks up where “Kill My Mind” left off. In that it keeps Louis comfortably inside the realm of ’90s-inspired alt-rock.

27. “Sour Diesel” – ZAYN

“She burn, she burn, she burn.”

ZAYN’s attempt at serving Stevie Wonder circa “Superstition” doesn’t get enough credit. It’s great to see the hitmaker explore some unexpected territory, and the end result is undeniably fun (especially when you factor in the ridiculous video).

26. “Miss You” – Louis Tomlinson

“Should be laughing, but there’s something wrong.”

After exploring a variety of sounds with a string of buzz tracks, Louis returned to 1D’s pop/rock roots on “Miss You.” It worked quite well and bridged the gap between his earliest work and what followed with “Kill My Mind.”

25. “Wrong” – ZAYN feat. Kehlani

“You’re looking in the wrong place for my love.”

ZAYN and Kehlani prove to be a winning combination on this brooding but still sensual duet.

24. “Befour” – ZAYN

“So say what you wanna say, what you want. Shame is you won’t say that to my face.”

“Befour” is a deeply layered declaration of independence done in the Mind Of Mine crooner’s signature shadowy style.

23. “Seeing Blind” – Niall Horan feat. Maren Morris

“I was young, my heart was always on the run. But you making loving fun.”

This loved-up gem showcases Niall’s country crossover capabilities and is one of several excellent collaborations he’s lined up over the course of his solo career.

22. “Stand Still” – ZAYN

“If time stands still move I will to you.”

This quietly unwinding and gorgeous written beauty takes on a mystical quality that is simply enchanting.

21. Watermelon Sugar – Harry Styles

“Watermelon sugar high.”

The second taste of Fine Line instantly evokes thoughts of summer, and H’s voice takes the lusty bop to the next level.

20. “Satisfaction” – ZAYN

“I can’t, you can’t, we can’t get no satisfaction.”

The Icarus Falls single that deserved so much more. ZAYN delivers a spectacular vocal performance and opens up about the endless search for peace on this underrated gem.

19. “Back To You” – Louis Tomlinson feat. Bebe Rexha

“I love it, I hate it. And I can’t take it. But I keep on coming back to you”

Sparse production courtesy of Digital Farm Animals sets the scene for Louis and Bebe’s deeply emo ode to a toxic relationship. It is easily one of the Wall star’s most recognizable solo offerings to date.

18. “Sweet Creature” – Harry Styles

“Wherever I go, you bring me home.”

Harry’s soulful voice takes center stage on this sweet, guitar led ballad. That and the heartfelt lyrics about a relationship that brings nothing but support and love.

17. “Familiar” – Liam Payne feat. J Balvin

“It’s simple. You did low. Your hips roll. You do the Calypso.”

Liam’s tried it all while nailing down his sound. And while his foray into Latin pop is admittedly brief, it resulted in this insanely danceable collab with J Balvin.

16. “Sign Of The Times” – Harry Styles

“Welcome to the final show. Hope you’re wearing your best clothes.”

Harry’s debut single ranks as one of the group’s most surprising introductions. However, I think it lingers a little too long to warrant a spot higher up on the list. That being said his whispery vocals on the buildup to the chorus, especially followed by the full-throated belt is a parituclarly magical moment.

15. “Dusk Till Dawn” – ZAYN feat. Sia

“But you’ll never be alone. I’ll be with you from dusk till dawn.”

Two powerhouse vocalists join forces on this ever growing duet.

14. “Too Much To Ask” – Niall Horan

“If I’m being honest, I ain’t over you yet.”

Moving on isn’t always easy. This is a song for anyone who still deals with feelings for an ex.

13. “Like I Would” – ZAYN

“He won’t love you like I would.”

“Like I Would” is a barbed pop song done very right and more proof that ZAYN is more than capable of claiming the title of Prince Of Pop if he so desired.

12. “Nice To Meet Ya” – Niall Horan

“Nice to meet ya, what’s your name?”

After establishing himself with bursts of acoustic singer/songwriter flair, Niall flipped the script by amping up the production and cheekiness on “Nice To Meet Ya.” It’s a move that’s worked very well for the star as he preps his sophomore LP.

11. “Lights Up” – Harry Styles

“Do you know who you are?”

The lead single to Harry’s sophomore album Fine Line is infinitely more accessible than “Sign Of The Times” and feels like it could be an even bigger hit as a result.

10. “Kill My Mind” – Louis Tomlinson

“You kill my mind, raise my body back to life.”

Louis proved that sometimes looking to the past for inspiration is a very good choice. This ’90s-esque soundscape perfectly sets the scene for his voice.

9. “Don’t Let It Break Your Heart” – Louis Tomlinson

“Don’t you let it kill you, even when it hurts like hell.”

A touching anthem about moving forward in the face of hardship, this is easily one of Louis’ best solo releases to date.

8. “For You” – Liam Payne feat. Rita Ora

“I’ll be yours for a thousand lives.”

Here’s a Fifty Shades Of Grey contribution to write home about. Liam and Rita Ora opted to celebrate romance instead of all-out sex on their high-flying ballad.

7. “Kiwi” – Harry Styles

“I’m having your baby, it’s none of your business.”

No song on Harry’s self-titled debut is more fun or undeniable than this rollicking anthem.

6. “This Town” – Niall Horan

“Everything comes back to you.”

Simple stings set the scene for Niall’s sweet debut single, which finds him addressing the impossibility of letting go of the past.

5. “Pillowtalk” – ZAYN

“It’s our paradise, and it’s our war zone.”

ZAYN wasted no time switching up his sound after going solo. Swapping out the anthemic pop/rock of 1D in favor of something decidedly more R&B-leaning proved to be a winning choice.

4. “What A Time” – Niall Horan feat. Julia Michaels

“I think of that night in the park. It was getting dark, and we stayed up for hours.”

Niall Horan just does collaborations better. His best is the Julia Michaels-assisted “What A Time,” which finds the pair reflecting on a failed relationship through rose colored glasses.

3. “Two Of Us” – Louis Tomlinson

“I’ll be living one life for the two of us.”

The most deeply meaningful song of the bunch, “Two Of Us” finds Louis promising to live life to the fullest after the death of his mother.

2. “Two Ghosts” – Harry Styles

“We’re not who we used to be.”

Harry’s aptitude for lyrics that cut very deep is perfectly highlighted on this heartfelt ballad about love lost.

1. “Slow Hands” – Niall Horan

“Got me now, and I can’t say no.”

Everything comes together perfectly on what became Niall’s breakout hit. One listen to this sexy romp sets the standards quite high for all the guys moving forward.

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