Every One Direction X Factor performance ranked

23 July 2020, 15:04

The moment One Direction were formed

Sophie Thompson

By Sophie Thompson

It's the One Direction anniversary, and ten years since the boys first took The X Factor stage by storm. But which one of their performances reigns supreme?

Happy One Direction anniversary! Can you believe it's been 10 whole years since we saw Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, Zayn Malik and Liam Payne step onto The X Factor stage for the first time? Oh, what a simpler time.

But one break-up, an extended hiatus, 5 successful solo careers and a 'Watermelon Sugar' music video later, we're still as obsessed with the boys as much as we were back in the day when they were busting *those* questionable moves at Bootcamp.

And what better way to celebrate than by taking a look back at their time on the show, and deciding which performance was the best? That's right, we're ranking every single one of them. You are so welcome.

READ MORE: Every single One Direction song ranked

14) Kim Wilde - 'Kids In America' (Week 5, American Anthems)

One Direction sing Kids in America - The X Factor Live show 5 - itv.com/xfactor

Although this performance is low-key fun and every teenage girl remembers practically drooling over those Letterman jackets, this was a bit of a let-down purely because of weird American accents???

13) Kelly Clarkson - 'My Life Would Suck Without You' (Week 2, Heroes)

One Direction sing My Life Would Suck Without You - The X Factor Live show 2 - itv.com/xfactor

Niall just enjoying himself and having a good time while not really contributing is arguably one of the best 1D moments from the entire series.

12) Snow Patrol - 'Chasing Cars' (Week 9, Song to Get You to the Final)

One Direction sing Chasing Cars - The X Factor Live Semi-Final (Full Version)

With nine weeks of safety under their belts and an iconic performance of Rihanna's 'Only Girl (In The World)' in the same week, 'Chasing Cars' was good but not up there with the greats. Bonus points for the cute hug at the end, though.

11) Natalie Imbruglia - 'Torn' (Judges Houses & The Final)

One Direction - The X Factor Judges' Houses - Torn (Full) HD

This song is iconic. You sing it at every karaoke. But look, this was their first performance as a five piece, they were nervous and they were only just getting started! The singing was nice but not their best. Extra marks for a full-blown Harry Styles performance, though.

10) The Beatles - 'All You Need Is Love' (Week 7, Songs by The Beatles

One Direction sing All You Need Is love - The X Factor Live show 7 (Full Version)

This ranking is partially because of the styling. 'Page-boys that stole a couple of non-alcoholic beers out of the wedding reception' is the energy those ill-fitting suits are channelling, in what would actually be a good cover. If you watch with your eyes closed, this could've made at least number four, and easily earned a place on the To All The Boys soundtrack.

9) Elton John - 'Something About the Way You Look Tonight' (Week 6, Songs by Elton John)

One Direction sing The Way You Look Tonight - The X Factor Live show 6 - itv.com/xfactor

And just like that, the suits are back. And Louis is even sporting a little blinged-up pocket. As far as X Factor entries go, this is actually pretty spot on. The black and white faces on a slideshow in the background, the audience waving along, the powerful harmonies towards the end. Extra points for Harry doing the most, as per usual - don't think that little microphone stand move went unnoticed. We just didn't ask to be emotionally unstable at 2am.

8) Robbie Williams - 'She's The One' (The Final, Celebrity Duets)

One Direction and Robbie Williams sing She's The One - The X Factor Live Final (Full Version)

Did you SEE the suit upgrade? And with a sixth member in tow by the name of Robbie Williams, this performance is a winner. Liam starting the song off note-perfect and Harry's seductive stares down the camera spell the birth of millions of Directioners everywhere. Also, the group collectively manage to sound better than the original artist here.

7) Elton John - 'Your Song' (The Final, Free Choice)

One Direction sing Your Song - The X Factor Live Final - itv.com/xfactor

We'll tell you what we love about this performance. The beginning illusion with the spotlight on Liam alone? It almost has us convinced for a second that he is the only member. And then, before you know it, in a strange turn of events, you're blessed with four other beautiful faces like a symphony of angels at Christmas, complete with fake snow courtesy of Simon Cowell's budget. Harry's solo is obviously a total chef's kiss moment, and no, we will never recover from the little lip thing he does when he nails a high note.

6) Joe Cocker - 'You Are So Beautiful' (Week 8, Rock)

One Direction sing You Are So Beautiful - The X Factor Live show 8 (Full Version)

2010 haircut aside, this was Liam Payne's performance. From the moment he sings "you are so beautiful to me" - shivers. And most One Direction fans who were young teenagers at the time will know that in that moment he was absolutely directly singing to you when he did that. And he meant it. Yes, you. The original version of this song also came out in the 70s, so it actually gave us one of few moments to bond with our dads over music. Magical.

5) Bryan Adams - 'Summer of '69' (Week 8, Rock)

One Direction sing Summer of '69 - The X Factor Live show 8 (Full Version)

When it comes to putting on a show, this was One Direction's week. As soon as the fivesome stepped off the stage down to a sea of screaming girls behind the judges, you could feel the rage from Louis Walsh after initially giving Harry the chop in his audition - and it is everything. Especially with such an iconic, classic song. If you look closely, this week you can actually see the dollar signs in Simon's eyes as he realises they don't just have the ability to serenade fans. Multi-talented kings.

4) Bonnie Tyler - 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' (Week 4, Halloween)

One Direction sing Total Eclipse of the Heart - The X Factor Live show 4 (Full Version)

Ok, so there's a lot of controversy around whether this is actually a Halloween song. It was by no means the biggest reach of the week (special mention to Treyc Cohen's 'Relight My Fire' cover). But we've got to give credit where it's due, and rank the boys' cover of 'Total Eclipse of the Heart' this high up, merely because of their all-out attempt to make it one. PSA: Adding messy red eyeliner to your beauty routine doesn't look spooky, it looks like you're having a reaction.

3) P!nk - 'Nobody Knows' (Week 3, Guilty Pleasures)

One Direction sing Nobody Knows - The X Factor Live show 3 (Full Version)

An absolutely underrated performance, and one of the few opportunities they had on the show to all be involved and nail their parts - including Zayn's angel-meets-parrot echo of everyone else's lines. There's also a lot of respect for the boys wearing hoodies as if to say "yeah, I'm choosing to be here, I could absolutely be at Nando's right now if I wanted". They somehow managed to not butcher a total classic either in the process, so fair play.

2) Rihanna - 'Only Girl (In the World)' (Week 9, Club Classics)

One Direction sing Only Girl In The World - The X Factor Live Semi-Final - itv.com/xfactor

Two words: Shoulder thrusting. The chaotic energy this performance gives is what makes a great X Factor performance. Yes, maybe Rihanna's version was better, but did Rihanna nail the fake-driving dance move? Honestly, the only thing that stopped this grabbing the top spot is Zayn not getting the all-grey memo. At this stage in the competition, we're looking at details.

1) Coldplay - 'Viva La Vida' (Week 1, Number One Singles)

One Direction sing Viva La Vida - The X Factor Live (Full Version)

Presenting to you: The greatest X Factor performance of all time. And there've been some pretty good ones, haven't there? Apart from actually convincing us this is a good song, we've got to give the credit to none other than Niall Horan for this one. The way he was made to sing "ahhhhhhh" all the way through and acted totally cool with it? Angelic. We see you, sweetie. A well earned first place, and arguably a career highlight for One Direction.

Now can we get a proper reunion, please?