Niall Horan Latest One Direction Member to Fly Solo

It’s official. Niall Horan is now going in his own direction.

The 23-year-old One Direction member has announced his solo career and dropped his debut single, “This Town,” causing 1D fans everywhere to freak out. Horan said in a statement, “I’m excited to announce I have signed a record deal with Capitol Records USA and released my first solo song. Thank you to all the One Direction fans for your love and support as always. I’m looking forward to the next part of this journey together.”

Horan took to his Twitter and Instagram accounts to share the surprise with his millions of adoring followers.

If the track gives any indication to what style of music Horan will focus on, there is a good chance that pal Ed Sheeran will have some stiff competition. “This Town” is a soft, reflective tune focusing on a past love. A simple, acoustic guitar melody pairs perfectly with Horan’s delicate voice that is twinged with the slightest rasp.

Horan is not the first 1D member to go solo. Zayn Malik famously left the group, which exploded in popularity following their time on The X Factor in 2010, in March 2015. Malik released his first solo album, Mind of Mine, earlier this year on the 1 year anniversary of his shocking departure. Liam Payne has also branched out on his own, announcing his signed deal with Capitol Records U.K. in July, although he has yet to release any music.

While One Direction has been on hiatus since releasing their fifth album Made in the A.M. last November, its members have certainly kept busy. In addition to Horan and Payne’s new solo ventures, Harry Styles is trying out his acting chops and is set to star in Christopher Nolan’s World War II flick, Dunkirk. Louis Tomlinson has appeared alongside the band’s founder Simon Cowell as a guest judge on America’s Got Talent and has been adjusting to life as a father since his son Freddie was born in January.

Within hours of Horan dropping the bomb, “This Town” shot to number one on the iTunes chart, much like Malik’s first single “Pillowtalk” did when released.

It seems that no matter if they’re one band or individual artists, these boys are in it for the long haul.