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22 Mar 2012

Former X Factor contestants One Direction have become the first British group to go straight to the top of the US music charts with their debut album.

The group shifted 176,000 copies of Up All Night, which only went to number two in the UK charts back in December.

The five-piece act were formed in 2010 by the X Factor judges after they failed to impress as solo artists.

Band member Harry Styles said reaching number one was a "dream come true" for the group.

"We simply cannot believe that we are number one in America. We want to thank each and every one of our fans in the US who bought our album and we would also like to thank the American public for being so supportive of us."

Fellow band member Niall Horan added: "As you can imagine, we are over the moon.

"When we got put together as a group, we couldn't imagine ourselves coming to America, let alone releasing our album here, so for us to be sitting at the top of the US album charts is unbelievable."

X Factor judge and music executive Simon Cowell signed the band to his record label Syco Music last year.

"I couldn't be happier for One Direction, it is an incredible achievement. They deserve it. They have the best fans in the world," Cowell said.

The feat comes in the same week it was announced the band have secured their own US TV show.

On Monday children's channel Nickelodeon confirmed on Twitter that Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson would be starring in their own show.

Chart success

The group have been busy with their US promotional tour, which has included playing a series of gigs with US boyband Big Time Rush and an appearance on breakfast programme The Today Show.

"It's more than unusual, it's unprecedented," said Music Week magazine reporter Paul Williams about their chart achievement.

He added that being managed by Cowell had helped boost the band's profile.

"He [Cowell] has a hell of a lot to do with it. He is one of the most famous people on TV in America and he's been associated with Leona Lewis and Susan Boyle, both of whom have had number one albums in America, so he has a lot of influence.

"When Simon Cowell drives an act, people are going to listen and pay attention. Although you have got to have the goods, as well as having someone like Simon championing you."

One Direction's number one follows their successful debut in the singles chart with What Makes You Beautiful last month, which went to number 28 in the Hot 100.

"Historically it's always been American boybands who have led the way, going back to the end of the 80s and the early 90s with the likes of New Edition, New Kids On The Block, BackStreet Boys and N-Sync," said Mr Williams.

"But there's not much in the way of homegrown boybands in America at the moment."

The sales figure for Up All Night may appear low given the size of the US music market, but album sales have plummeted in recent years.

Big releases by acts such as Jay-Z or Lil' Wayne can expect to shift somewhere between 600,000 and 900,000 copies in their first week, but the number one album often sells less than 200,000 copies.

Last year, the record for the lowest-selling number one was broken on three separate occasions. Singer-songwriter Amos Lee fared worst, shifting just 40,000 copies of his album Mission Bell in January.

Lady Gaga's Born This Way was one of the only records to break the one million barrier in its first week, and it was sold at heavy discounts by online retailers.

Another British boyband, The Wanted, are also enjoying chart success in the US.

Earlier this month the group became the highest charting UK boy band in the US singles chart after they reached number five with Glad You Came.

"There hasn't been sustained success by a British boyband until this year," said Mr Williams.

"And now we're in this strange situation where there's not one, but two boybands doing extremely well in America."

Ernie D, the creative director of Radio Disney, said such bands were finding success much more quickly than their predecessors in the 1990s.

"The way it's happening now, it's a little more sudden. Back then, you had to build your fan base, get a following. Now with all social media, you have a fan base immediately.

"Bands like One Direction and The Wanted, they're just coming out of nowhere and it's kind of taking everybody by surprise."


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