Happy birthday, Lima Bean! Customs says we can’t ship you a new dog and our fear of Warner Bros’ legal counsel says we can’t steal you any props from the set of Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them. All we have is this post in your honor, handcrafted and gif-ed with love.
A true cinnamon roll, Liam Payne is what we’re missing most during this band hiatus. Besides his international tour of grocery stores and malls, Liam hasn’t been doing much in the public eye lately. He’s been far too busy inking a solo deal and getting to work on the first confirmed side project of the One Direction break. Liam is such a goddamn champ that on the very day he announced his personal contract with Capitol Records, he changed his Twitter and Facebook cover photos to pictures of the band. LIAM PAYNE CARES ABOUT YOU. He super gets it. He doesn’t think it’s weird that this means so much to you. And he doesn’t want you to needlessly stress about the future. He is a solid, stand-up dude, and I’m so glad that we’re doing this. –Sage
Many moons ago, there was a time when I had not yet imprinted on Louis Tomlinson and I had proudly declared myself to be a Liam girl. (God, my life would be so much simpler if I had just stuck with my original instinct. JUST KIDDING I LOVE YOU LOUIS.) I was/am a Kevin girl when it came to BSB and a JC girl with NSYNC, so it’s easy to see why I initially looked at Liam Payne and said “that one”. Clearly, I have a penchant for serious and responsible boy banders. But what’s been wonderful about deep-diving into my love of One Direction is seeing all the layers that Liam has. Sure, he’s the workhorse of One Direction who takes his job as a superstar very seriously. But Liam is also endearingly goofy. He’s charming as fuck. He projects warmth and you KNOW he gives good cuddles. He finds joy in the simple things, be it the latest superhero movie or whatever delightful antics his bandmates get into. He’s as faithful and as loyal as a golden retriever but will also fight you if you come at him. He makes mistakes and he refreshingly owns up to them in the most candid of ways. As Sage said, he’s a cinnamon roll and we’re so lucky to have him.
We were always going to do an appreciation post for all of the boys, but it feels like this one for Liam falls at the perfect time so we can remind ourselves what a peach he is. (Sage and I have been yelling about him for the past week over gChat and GOD it’s felt good.) He may not be the most attention grabbing or headline making of the boys but that doesn’t make him any less special or worthy of celebration. Happy Birthday, Lima Bean. You’ll always be my first love when it comes to One Direction. –Kim
1. LOOK AT HIM
All of the boys of One Direction are beautiful. There’s Louis in all his dainty angularity, Harry in his outrageous otherworldly-ness, and Niall in his boy next door sunniness. And Liam? Helloooooooooo Mr. Classic Tall, Dark, and Handsome.
What has been lovely/torturous about the extensive way that One Direction’s career has been documented is that we’ve gotten to see the boys grow up before our very eyes. Liam was always a cute kid, if a little gawky and unsure of himself in his own skin. But suddenly he ditched the Bieber haircut, grew a little facial hair, and packed on some muscles. It was like the overnight birth of a freaking heartthrob. Look, I know some people valiantly defend Liam’s overly shaggy Bieber hair but I assert that cutting it all off is one of the best decisions this kid has ever made. All of the sudden we could see his face and his bone structure and those soulful brown eyes and those strong brows and it was a LOT. I know it’s cheesy to say that he became a MAN but that’s exactly what happened.
What’s amazing about Liam’s beauty is that he can go from smoldering sex on a stick (that gif of him just sprawling on the stage? Who the FUCK told him that was an okay thing to do? THIS IS A FAMILY SHOW.) (OR IS IT?) to overgrown adorable puppy dog with one smile. His smile lights up his entire face and his eyes squinch up and GOD it’s like staring directly at the sun.
And now let’s talk about how he wears a freaking SUIT. Good Lord. He should wear suits or at least jackets ALL THE TIME. The only other suitable (HA!) alternative is those tight henleys he tends to favor on stage, especially when they are deep v-necks. I don’t know why Liam remains the lone holdout in regards to the ultra painted on jeans that his bandmates are partial to except for the fact that he KNOWS that we can’t handle seeing those thighs in jeggings. Liam will rock a good slim cut on a regular basis but the difference between his skinnies and Harry’s skinnies is significant. Get on Harry’s level, Lima. You have the body for it, trust me. And I like death and dying, so I need it.
Then there was that time when Louis LITERALLY ripped Liam’s shirt open, popping off all the buttons, leaving his chest and abs and hips exposed for the rest of the show. Bless you Louis. You knew we all wanted to see the goods and you delivered. I CAN’T STOP STARING AT THESE GIFS, HELP. It’s like the perfect amount of body definition that every dude should aspire towards. Also, look at that diaphragm work. Baby is singing CORRECTLY. That’s exactly why I am staring, just checking out his technique, that’s all, I swear.
Liam has had struggles with his body in the past (and I say “struggles” lightly because he’s ALWAYS looked good to me, extra 10 pounds or not) and I love how he takes PRIDE in how good he looks now. Of course that pride ALSO entails murder via Instagram selfie at any moment. I’m not proud of the things I yelled the day he posted this one (or the numerous others) but I don’t regret them either. He knows EXACTLY what he’s doing — Kim
2) The Voice
When I try to explain to n00bs how to pick out Liam Payne’s vocals in a One Direction song, I tell them to listen for the guy who sounds like he’s in a boy band. That’s no dig. Liam is a CROONER, the likes of which have fronted boy bands since long before the newly formed 1D hit The X-Factor stage.
It’s well-known in the fandom that Liam hit vocal lessons hard between his X-Factor auditions (more on that later). Now in 2016, you can still hear the raw talent in that voice but you can also hear the training. Lima is usually the base of OT4’s harmonies, but he also swings up to that “Fireproof” falsetto without any audible strain. And that’s not just on studio tracks. I’ve seen the band live three times and in every instance have been stunned and impressed by the ease and speed with which Liam flies up and down his range.
The technique is only half of what makes Liam’s voice so special. He’s so expressive. He knows exactly how he wants each verse to make you feel. (Usually, hot for him.) Where Harry skews rock star, Liam swings total bedroom-eyes, panty-dropping, slipping-into-a-warm-bath R&B. Liam recently signed a solo deal with Capitol, and I know I can count on him to make the baby-making album I was hoping for from Zayn.
Speaking of Zayn (and no shade, because Liam loves him), Liam is the number one reason why his departure didn’t vocally debilitate the group. To be clear: nobody sounds like Zayn Malik but Zayn Malik, but Liam’s warm, super-masculine voice slotted in right to the gaps left by Zayn. He even hits that “You and I” high note, if it’s slightly less confident. And I nearly broke in half when I heard what he did with the “Night Changes” bridge. “HOLY FUDGE STICKS” is right, Viner.
Liam never looks bored on stage. Because he keeps himself busy by exercising his voice. (And pelvic thrusting, but that’s another bullet point.) He is the king of note changes, adding his own flourishes to songs fans have heard a million times before. (Case in point: these “Through the Dark” riffs.) There’s nothing like hearing a stadium full of fans collectively lose their shit because Liam goddamn Payne came through with an unexpected high note. He’s got your melody, but he won’t be contained by it.
P.S. If for nothing else, the band must return from their hiatus so that they can perform “Never Enough” live and I can hear Liam swinging for the fences on those falsetto ad-libs with my own two ears. A-HOO-AH. – -Sage
3) His Work Ethic
One of the things that has infuriated me the MOST about this Dan Wootton-led tabloid smear campaign against One Direction (I say one of the things because let’s be real I’m INFURIATED 95% of the time. The rest of the time I am crying.) is the fact that he’s CONSTANTLY saying that Liam James Payne is ready to throw away his career in music to live as Cheryl Just-Pick-a-Last-Name-Already’s boy toy lap dog. Liam is so loved up that he doesn’t give a fuck about his career anymore, so says Dan. He’s gone as far as to say that Liam is wandering the streets aimlessly because no one wants to represent him and he’s washed up at the age of 22 (23 NOW HAPPY BIRTHDAY BB). To all of that, I scream “REALLY?! LIAM?! YOU’RE SAYING THIS ABOUT LIAM?” at the top of my lungs. I do that because no offense to the rest of the boys of One Direction, because they all work very hard, but Liam? Liam has always wanted this the most.
Liam famously auditioned for The X-Factor at 14 and got cut with the ole “you aren’t ready yet, come back when you are” adage. This comment is used ALL THE TIME on reality shows, from American Idol to So You Think You Can Dance. Contestants don’t always take this advice to heart. But Liam Payne took voice lessons and returned to The X-Factor auditions two years later more polished and not willing to take no for an answer. Then, when his solo dreams were crushed and he was put into a band with 4 strangers, Liam was determined to be the best boy band member EVER. He has poured himself into One Direction for the past 6 years and his dedication has never wavered. Then, when his band takes a well-earned break, what does Liam do? He becomes the first member of 1D to actively and openly get into the studio even when the tabloids dismiss him as a lazy kid happy to coast along on the coattails of his highly publicized “relationship”. All throughout this hiatus, as these articles have flown about, I have said that I can’t WAIT for Liam to pull a Beyoncé and drop his record. “Surprise, bitches.” It’s happening and I can’t wait. Don’t EVER call him lazy in front of me, unless you want a swift crack in the jaw. –Kim
4) His Song Writing
Even if they don’t realize it’s them, the one song that people who aren’t fans of 1D know is “Story of My Life.” It’s their most recognizable hit with the most crossover appeal and it was co-written by Liam Payne and the rest of the boys.
Liam has songwriting credits dating back to 1D’s debut album, a huge feat for a member of a band put together on television and surrounded by image-manufacturing producers and writers. He’s always wanted to be in the trenches, putting himself into their songs. We poke fun at Liam for being so blissfully straightforward and sweet with very definable wants. And you might think that his lack of dark-and-twistiness means a shallow pool of songwriting ideas. But Lima pulls it out of the bag musically and lyrically and has helped create some of the band’s most outstanding hooks. I’m talking the hooks you want to scream out of a car window to a frightened UPS driver.
“EVERYBODY WANNA STEAL MY GIRL.”
“YOU AND ME GOT A WHOOOOLE LOTTA HISTORY. (whoa-oh)”
Liam’s songwriting prowess goes beyond the power pop single, however. He and Louis have an especially productive writing partnership. They captured exactly what it sounds like to chase freedom in the Four track “Ready To Run” (“There’s a future in my life I can’t foresee. Unless, of course, I stay on course and keep you next to me.”); channeled Fleetwood Mac on the Made in the A.M. deep cut “What A Feeling” (“What a feeling to be a king beside you, somehow, I wish I could be there now.”); and provided the world with the morning sex anthem it sorely needed, “No Control.” (“And the heat where you laid, I could stay right here and burn in this all day.”) I see the appeal of writing with Liam, because he is the kind of person you can trust with the vulnerability necessary to write a really trenchant, personal song. “Your deepest love,” as Louis once said.
I can’t end this section without mentioning “Illusion,” a Four bonus track that Liam wrote with some of the band’s most frequent collaborators. Reportedly, it’s about the early stages of a new relationship that our sweet ‘lil Lima Bean was in. It’s not even a favorite of mine, but knowing that context, the raw honesty and hopefulness of this song never fails to destroy me. He just WANTS TO BE LOVED. FOR WHO HE IS.
Can’t you see it?
I’m not trying to mislead you
I promise falling for me
Won’t be a mistake
No baby this is not an illusion
I’ve really got my heart out on my sleeve
Oh baby this is not an illusion
There’s magic between you and me
Protect this sensitive soul. Music needs him. –Sage
5) Daddy Direction
Louis may have immediately become the de-facto leader of One Direction in terms of morale but Liam’s serious nature (and determination to not throw away his shot) instantly made him the dad of the group. Thus, “Daddy Direction” was born. Liam was the responsible one, the one always urging the lads to practice more, the one who made sure they showed up on time, the one desperately trying not to murder Louis on a daily basis. The other boys may have given him shit for his high-strung dad tendencies but they also loved him for it. They NEEDED him. I would wager that One Direction would have completely fallen apart in those early days without Liam’s steadfast professionalism.
Liam’s dad tendencies extend past making sure all his children show up at the right time and place. Liam is constantly in tune with his bandmates on stage be it being fully aware of who has taken a wee break or if one of them isn’t feeling well. A striking recent example of this is when the boys performed for Live Lounge and Harry was sick and on vocal rest, only opening his mouth to sing. He was constantly checking in with Harry, be it a look or a quick shoulder squeeze. You could tell that Liam was FULLY prepared to jump in to cover some of those power riffs if needed (he wasn’t because Hazza is a CHAMP) and you could tell that Harry was grateful for the support. THESE BOYS I SWEAR.
Liam has mellowed a bit over the years but Daddy Direction is still alive and well. It’s no secret the boys have been through extensive media training (“These are media-trained mega stars!”) to varying degrees of success. (Niall’s thorough inability to lie is going to be one of HIS bullet points for his birthday post.) Liam has taken to the media training the best, always being the one stepping up to answer the most inane questions as if it’s the first time he’s heard it. He always has an answer for the “What do you look for in a girl?” question (even if he DOES get sly by just saying “Female”) and he’s always the one to quickly jump in whenever one of the other boys fumbles for an answer. His most shining Daddy Direction moment of late came during an interview he and Niall did with Seacrest during the promo for “Made in the A.M.”. Harry and Louis missed the interview and Seacrest questioned Lou’s absence because it was known that Harry was on vocal rest. Please observe Niall’s “oh shit” face as he scrambles for an answer regarding Lou’s whereabouts:
And then please observe Liam’s poker face as he smoothly sweeps in and says that Louis was “tired” and observe Niall’s utter relief that Daddy Direction has come to the rescue once again.
Liam’s all “I got this bro” in his eye contact with Niall and it’s AMAZING. Compltely cool under pressure, this guy. Daddy Direction saves the day once again. (Now if he could tell us why Louis and Harry REALLY skipped the interview, that would be great.) –Kim
6) But Yet He Just Goes Along With Whatever Madness Happens On Stage
Liam Payne is a ROCK.
Besides a setlist, there is little rhyme or reason to a One Direction concert. The boys get into show-long water fights, don whatever costumes fan throw onstage, try to get each other to mess up, and occasionally, sing some songs. Liam may be the dad of the group in that he wants his bandmates to be on time and get their shit done. But he’s the fun dad, because he also wants them to have the best possible time while they’re at work.
Maybe he was part of an improv troupe in another life. Because Liam has mastered the “Yes, And…” rule. Whatever bit one of the boys is trying to pull or dance move they’ve just invented, Liam is in step instantly. He doesn’t wait to see the point or worry about looking cool. Lima is there for his boys onstage, no questions asked. He would follow them anywhere, with a big, goofy smile plastered on his face. It’s this kind of behavior that stands out when so many tabloid rumors of discord fly around. This is not the way you behave towards people you don’t trust. Unconditional support is what you display toward people who you love.
Liam is a cheerleader and playmate for all the boys, but there’s a special and very big-brotherly Lirry relationship that’s apparent onstage. Harry loves to challenge Liam; he gets all up in his space, dances on him, dares him to try to escape. But as soon as Liam tries to give him some of his own medicine, Harry giggles and runs away. And I know Kim wrote about this moment in our Harry appreciation post, but it deserves another few lines. If you have not yet experienced the pure magic of Harry Styles shrieking about poutine for four minutes, please avail yourself of this video. Throughout the whole thing, who is standing RIGHT THERE egging Harry on even though he has no idea where this rant is going? Liam James Payne, who will never let you make a fool of yourself alone. (“Are you gonna run for president?” “No, there’s not a chance, ’cause I don’t know what I’m talkin’ about!”) And that fond hair ruffle at the end? That’s the stuff of dreams, right there.
7) He’s a Giant Fucking Nerd
Internationally beloved pop stars, they’re just like us. Except they can afford to buy the ACTUAL flying car from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets because they are THAT big of a nerd. LIAM DID THAT Y’ALL. What a rich little goober. Liam LOVES Harry Potter, you guys. He always has. Never forget his face (all of their faces really) when fetus 1D met Daniel Radcliffe. His face said that wasn’t Daniel Radcliffe. That was Harry Freaking Potter and he was DYING. His trip to Harry Potter world last summer during a tour break was the gift that kept on giving as he lost his damn mind going to Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley and Hogwarts. His birthday cakes are ALWAYS geek oriented from last year’s golden snitch and text books to his Batman cake. Bless his nerdy little heart. (Also Liam, my sister is a pretty famous cake decorator, I can hook you up, just let me know.)
What’s so delightful about Liam’s nerdiness is the fact that he’s completely unabashed about it. (We fully support that at Head Over Feels, Liam. Call us.) It would be very easy for him to pretend that he’s too cool to geek out about something. He is famous after all and the cool famous people never let their geek flag fly, right? (Wrong. All the Cool people just like liking things but that’s not the point.) Liam doesn’t roll that way though. When he loves something, he LOVES IT and lets everyone KNOW that he loves it. I would say he’s probably the easiest person in the world to shop for except for the fact that this fucker probably HAS anything cool you could think of already. My sons are SO RICH.
Also he makes up silly songs and sings them in the shower. Like Billy Madison but way hotter. Also HE’S A TEASE FOR THAT NAKED LEG AT THE LAST SECOND WHAT AN ASSHOLE.
Uncut version available on iTunes pic.twitter.com/OZmxoVykOj
— Liam (@LiamPayne) July 5, 2015
Last week there was a Buzzfeed article where commoners shared their favorite celebrity encounters. A Disney Employee shared a story about Liam coming in and buying PANDORA CHARMS. (A gift for his mum? Definitely a gift for his mum.) He had a LIST of what charms he wanted and EVER THE CUPCAKE he asked her how her day was going as she gathered up the charms for him. When she turned the question around on him, Liam replied that he was having a “magical” day. A MAGICAL DAY. Look, I can’t even think about Liam Payne, who has performed for STADIUMS full of fans, being enchanted by the Magic Kingdom because it’s too much for me, so let’s move on. –Kim
8) He Loves His Boys
A constant among all our One Direction member appreciation pieces, because it is universally true. Do not test my faith in this squad.
Baby Liam Payne wanted so much to be a solo singer. Kim spelled it out for you in #3, how hard he worked in the hopes of getting there. Then instead of setting him on the path to solo superstardom, Simon Cowell put Liam into a group of four strangers with whom he’d have to share a spotlight. Not only did Liam accept that fate, he’s given that group everything he’s got.
It’s not a secret that Liam had a tough go of it making friends as a kid. So the instant camaraderie of this new project must have been even more appealing than seeing his own name in lights. These friends – these brothers – fell into his lap, and I don’t believe Liam has ever taken that good fortune for granted. So let’s talk about them, shall we?
“Lirry is so pure” is my usual Liam and Harry tag on Tumblr. As I expressed above, I believe these two have a mischievous little brother/indulgent older brother relationship. Harry can never resist an opportunity to mess with Liam, and Liam takes the teasing for what it is: a display of deep affection. I feel like these two are the least likely to have crossed paths in life if One Direction had never been created, and what a loss to the entire concept of friendship if they hadn’t found each other. P.S. The only person more upset than me that Harry had to chop off his locks for Dunkirk is Liam.
Anyway, the only thing Niall and Liam love more than each other is SPORTZ. They are in a three-way friendship with sportz and it’s a little naughty but I gotta tell you, it’s working.
Liam and Louis will be the first to tell anyone that they didn’t get along at in the beginning. And who would have expected them to? Baby Lima, taking everything seriously because he doesn’t want to throw away his shot; and Baby Lou, taking nothing seriously because isn’t this supposed to be fun? But Liam mellowed out and Louis grew up a bit and they and landed somewhere in the middle together. They still love to get a rise out of each other, but only in water gun fights and stage banter and gloriously, that time Louis ripped Liam’s shirt open in the middle of a concert and he had to go on performing, like Magic Mike suspended mid-routine. (See the LOOK AT HIM section.) It’s not just drunken award show dates and pranking their Irish friend with Lilo. As discussed, the fruits of their songwriting partnership speak to the bond that grew out of their initial hesitancy. While I’m on the subject, so does that time they accidentally kissed on stage in the middle of a roughhousing session. Living, breathing fan fic, these guys.
I think that Liam is a person who comes to meet you where you are. And I think he very much did that with Zayn. Whatever you believe about the nature of their relationship, Zayn and Liam seemed to get each other on a deep level. Zayn exhibits several introvert qualities; and of course now it’s confirmed that he didn’t always feel comfortable on this crazy train. But Liam was always conscious of making Zayn feel included and appreciated. He understood the way Zayn expresses emotion and never made his bandmate feel like being quiet or needing to be alone sometimes wasn’t okay.
Last we heard, Liam is the only One Direction boy in regular touch with Zayn since the split. Get a load of their goodbye scene in This Is Us and you can see why they just couldn’t quit each other. (“I’ll try, but I’ll miss you too much, Lee-yum!”)
And. Well. Zayn and Liam also kissed one time, and it wasn’t exactly an accident. I love this band. –Sage
9) His Stage Charisma
My only complaint with the otherwise FLAWLESS Rolling Stone review of OTRA New Jersey is that it didn’t give Liam Payne his due. Sure, Harry Styles is a supernova on stage but I would go as far as to say that Liam’s presence ALLOWS Harry to be the maniac that he is. We’ve said it over and over in this post, but Liam is a rock. He is a constant (a touchstone) who is always there for his bandmates and the fans that came to see him. He is a generous and selfless performer who gives everything of himself to make everyone else looks good. He’s the guy you want with you on stage. Always.
Honestly, you can’t FULLY appreciate Liam until you’ve seen him live. He moves with a practiced ease and the confidence of a man who KNOWS he’s doing what he was born to do. He changes just enough notes to keep the audience on their toes. He gamely reads the audience signs every night and feigns ignorance when he reads KNOWN fandom jokes. (He once read an Always in My Heart sign, you guys. THEY KNOW. AND THEY KNOW WE KNOW THEY KNOW.) He performs with pure abandon, fully giving himself to the moment and the crowd. He’s not flashy, he doesn’t pull focus, he’s simply a consummate showman who knows how to deliver EXACTLY what the audience came to see. (Cute boys twirling and doing Magic Mike pelvic thrusts, duh.)
Also, he’s mastered the art of the microphone flip, and it’s hot as hell.
Listen, there are performers and there are PERFORMERS. Liam falls in the latter category and I just feel blessed that I’ve gotten to see him do what he was put on this planet to do. –Kim
10) Liam the Lionheart
Niall is a dyed in the wool Hufflepuff. I go back and forth with Harry. His HP equivalent is Luna Lovegood, magnificent weirdo and proud Ravenclaw; but Hazza also has the fearlessness of a Gryffindor. Louis could wear the red and gold if he chose to, but he might prefer the way he looks in silver and green. But Liam? Liam Payne, like his hero Harry Potter, is a Gryffindor through and through. (“Where dwell the brave at heart. Their daring, nerve, and chivalry set Gryffindors apart.”)
How so? I’m glad you asked.
Liam will never let you put yourself down. He thinks you are a perfect sunflower, and so you are.
So many times, Liam has stepped up to do the dirty PR work in the band. He’s towed Simon’s party line, tried and failed to reign in Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson (“I have a secret.” “Not that important.” “Trying to walk.” ETC.), and generally played the role of the grown-up. I can guarantee it’s not a fun job, but it is a necessary one. Doing what he knows someone has to do has occasionally lost Liam points with fans, but he’s more about the bigger picture and protecting his boys than he is saving face. Those, my friends, are the actions of a true Gryffindor. –Sage
What do you love about Liam James Payne? Let us know in the comments!