That sound you just heard was the crash of hearts breaking all over the world.
Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction.
“After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction,” the band said on its Facebook page and tweeted out to its 22.9 million Twitter followers.
“Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year.”
Rumors about such a move had started since Malik left the band’s tour last week. At the time, a rep told Rolling Stone he had “been signed off with stress” after a scandal erupted following the publication of a photo showing Malik holding hands with someone other than his fiancee.
Fans on Twitter immediately responded with teary Vine videos and the #AlwaysInOurHeartsZaynMalik hashtag.
The band’s Wikipedia page was also quickly updated with a sentence, “Zayn Malik was formerly a member.”
Malik, 22, has been part of the very popular British boy band since it was formed (at the urging of Simon Cowell, according to some stories) in 2010 after members auditioned separately for the UK version of “The X Factor.” Cowell became a mentor and signed them to his label. The group has put out four albums, and its hits include “Best Song Ever” and “Story of My Life.”
The group’s latest album, “Four,” came out in November.
By Todd Leopold