One Direction: 'The X Factor' Releases Never-Before-Seen Footage From the Band's First Performances

Simon Cowell is visibly blown away by the 'magic' after seeing the group together for the first time.

Back to the beginning! The X Factor UK is offering fans a new look at One Direction's origin story, releasing a new nearly 30-minute featurette.

"You've seen how One Direction were put together," an on-screen chyron reads. "Now, for the first time ever, we reveal the full unseen journey of one direction at The X Factor judges' houses."

In the first previously unseen clip, all five guys go shirtless as they pose together on the beach. Then, they come together to rehearse a stunning acapella version of Natalie Imbruglia's 1997 hit, "Torn," which they later perform for Simon Cowell

In another clip, we see the group discuss their new moniker and how they've adjusted to coming together as a cohesive unit ahead of their first performance together. Harry Styles calls the opportunity a "blank canvas." 

We also see them interrogated by Cowell, who jokingly asks whether they've had a falling out yet. 

"Bits and bobs," Liam Payne replies, insinuating that they've had a handful of small disagreements. 

With a laugh, Cowell predicts: "Yeah, you will. Trust me."

There's also extended footage of their show-stopping "Torn" performance, largely highlighting Styles' vocals while the rest of the singers provide backup. 

"You did great," Cowell tells them. "Well done." Later, the stunned exec is seen quietly mouthing, "Wow." 

Cowell clearly hasn't learned their names yet, but is visibly blown away, especially by Styles. Reflecting on the showing, Cowell gushes, "Individually, they all sang well. Particularly the kid with the curly hair, I never heard him sing like that before." 

For the first time ever, footage has also been released of One Direction's second song of the day: Kelly Clarkson's "My Life Would Suck Without You." Cowell, of course, served as a judge on the inaugural 2002 season of American Idol, which Clarkson famously won. For his part, Niall Horan has enjoyed a full-circle moment of his own as he went on to serve as a coach alongside Clarkson on The Voice

Styles, Payne, Horan, Zayn Malik, and Louis Tomlinson auditioned as solo artists for The X Factor in 2010 and were put together into a group by Cowell. 

"Something magic has happened here. Magic," he tells them after their performances. "But we got a lot of work to do. A lot of work. I am so impressed by all of you. I mean that." 

Later, Cowell predicts that it's a good time in the industry to break a new pop group. "You can just feel there's another wave happening," he muses. 

Though they didn't win The X Factor, 1D went on to sign with Cowell's Syco Records and become a chart-topping, record-breaking global phenomenon. All five members of the group went on to pursue solo projects after 2016, when the band officially parted ways

Malik was the first to leave 1D in 2015, but the group carried on briefly without him for one final album. In a rare interview on the Call Her Daddy podcast, Malik recently revealed why he was the first one to jump ship. 

Malik admitted that he had planned to leave One Direction long before he announced his exit. "Yeah, I think I'd known for a minute," he said. "...I don't want to go into too much detail, but there was a lot of politics going on. Certain people were doing certain things, certain people didn't want to sign contracts, so I knew something was happening. So I just got ahead of the curve."

He added, "If I'm being honest with you, I was like, 'I'm just going to get out of here, I think this is done and I just seen it.' And I completely selfishly wanted to be the first person to go and make my own record if I’m being completely honest with you. I was like, 'I'm going to jump the gun here for the first time.' I'm a passive dude, but when it comes to my music and my business, I'm serious about it and I'm competitive, so I wanted to be the first to go and do my own thing."

Earlier this year, Styles thanked his One Direction bandmates while accepting the award for Album of the Year for Harry's House at the 2023 BRIT Awards in London. 

"I want to thank my mum for signing me up for X Factor without telling me, so, I literally wouldn't be here without you," Styles began. "I want to thank Niall, Louis, Liam, and Zayn, because I wouldn't be here without you either. Thank you so much."

In addition to the big win, Styles took home trophies for Song of the Year for "As It Was," Pop/R&B Act, and Artist of the Year. He also opened the show with another performance of his megahit, "As It Was."

The 29-year-old singer's big night came just days after Styles won Album of the Year at the 65th annual GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 5. Taking home the top prize at both shows has earned Styles another important distinction, making him the first artist to win both Album of the Year at both the GRAMMYs and the BRITs since Adele's 25.