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Don't believe the rumours - One Direction are here to stay and I'm all for it...

Good Lord, I've fallen in with the wrong crowd. A man of 26 declaring his admiration for the world's biggest boy band? This will have them howling in the boozer. But I can no longer hide it.

Call me a Directioner (I'd rather you didn't), but the truth of the matter is that those One Direction lads have somehow managed to rope me in with their fabulously produced chart pop. It only took four years, mind.

I'd laughed at them on X Factor. We all did. Because that's how we, the viewers, react whenever Simon Cowell's Hideous Empire of Plastic Pop throws something new and shiny our way.

But now Niall, Zayn, Louis, Harry and Liam are rarely out of sight. Stadium tours, number-one records, faces on lunchboxes and Geldof on speed-dial (1D perform on the recently-released Band Aid 30 re-recording). Nice job.

Why is it then that just as this stone-hearted critic arrives late to the 1D party the rest of the world seems intent on setting their clocks for the so-called inevitable downfall?

Ahead of the release of 1D's fourth album this week, a lengthy feature on the group appeared in a British newspaper over the weekend.

In it, we learned more about the demise of every other boy band ever formed than on the inner workings of Cowell's greatest cash cow (clue: Niall and his buddies are a fairly quiet bunch).

We also discovered that the lads prefer to travel solo and that - gasp! - they occasionally enjoy taking a break from each other. But here's the thing: there is almost zero evidence to suggest that the 1D phenomenon (currently at an all-time high) is about to head south. So, what's with all the gloomy insinuations?

absence

And what's The Today Show playing at? Yesterday morning, four out of five members of One Direction appeared on America's favourite morning chat show, with host Matt Lauer questioning Zayn Malik's absence. According to Liam Payne, Zayn had a stomach bug and was forced to stay at home. Simple.

But Matt persisted, questioning "rumours" concerning Zayn's alleged "substance abuse".

What "rumours" exactly? It could be that the host was referring to a six-month-old video featuring Zayn and Louis allegedly smoking a joint on their way to a gig. But where's Matt getting "substance abuse" from? No wonder Niall was visibly annoyed at the chap. And young Zayn is said to be furious too.

We all love a bit of showbiz controversy, but are we merely expecting 1D to implode because that's generally what happens when boy bands grow up? Is it really that difficult to believe that One Direction might be more than just a fad? Let's put things into perspective. We are, after all, talking about a bunch of lads in their early 20s whose hard work will, eventually, tire them out. So if they want to have a little fun in their spare time, that's their business.

I'm not condoning the use of marijuana; nor am I in any way stating that it's a good idea to show your teenage fan base how a gang of young fellas unwind after a long day on the job. But come on, "substance abuse"? You're grasping at straws, Lauer.

As we saw in last year's box office-breaking concert film, One Direction: This Is Us, the boys display a level of normality and maturity (both talent and personality-wise) that belies their superstar status.

Together there's a hell of a spark between them, and in recent smash-hit single, the infectious Steal My Girl, they've shown that they are, at least, capable of churning out genuinely fantastic pop numbers too. No barstools, no key changes, no matching outfits - just a cracking team of songwriters working alongside five very lucky boys.

Yep, the tunes just got interesting, folks, and it sounds to me like there's plenty of gas left in the tank.


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