Hailing from Wolverhampton in the West Midlands, Payne first became involved with entertainment and the arts when he was a member of the Pink Productions Theatre Company at the age of 12, going on to develop a magnetic stage presence. He first made his foray into the public eye when he auditioned for the 2008 season of The X Factor with his rendition of Frank Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon." Initially unsuccessful, he was advised by judge Simon Cowell to "come back in two years." The young vocalist did just that, and returned to the show in 2010, flooring the panel with his performance of Michael Bublé's version of the classic American torch song "Cry Me a River."
Payne subsequently failed to progress to the Boys category at the judges' houses but following a suggestion from guest judge Nicole Scherzinger, he was placed in a group with four other boys who had not progressed to the Boys category either. This led to the formation of what would become One Direction. Payne and fellow contestants and future bandmembers Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson, and Zayn Malik spent the following weeks rehearsing and getting to know one another. After their qualifying song (a cover of Natalie Imbruglia's "Torn") propelled them further on the show, the group quickly gained widespread attention and popularity throughout the U.K.
One Direction went on to experience success after they signed with Cowell's Syco imprint in 2010, with their first studio effort, Up All Night, arriving the following November. Subsequent years saw the release of Take Me Home (2012), Midnight Memories (2013), Four (2014), and Made in the A.M. (2015), all of which were monumentally successful and charted at number one. Payne was lauded for his eclectic vocal range and songwriting skills (as one of the principal songwriters for the group).
During the summer of 2014, Payne founded Hampton Music Limited, his own creative umbrella for future non-One Direction-related material. He decided to work as a producer using the moniker "Payno" (and occasionally "Big Payno"). He teamed up with production duo AfterHrs, and they remixed Cheryl Cole's 2014 single "I Don't Care." Payne also received co-writing credits on some of the material from the accompanying album Only Human. The mid- to late 2010s saw him release solo material and make other independent endeavors. He collaborated with a host of various artists such as fellow English songwriter Jamie Scott (on the track "The Night We Met") and Irish pop outfit Hometown, and was featured on the track "You" with rappers Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J.
In May 2017, Payne put out his first official single, "Strip That Down," a slow-burning, midtempo trap- and R&B-inspired cut he co-wrote with Ed Sheeran and producer Steve Mac. The track also featured rapper Quavo. After appearing on Zedd's "Get Low," Payne released another single, "Bedroom Floor." In 2018, he teamed up with Rita Ora for the steamy single "For You," which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Fifty Shades Freed. Another collaboration arrived that year in "Familiar" with J Balvin, which peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 chart. His debut EP, First Time, was issued months later. The short set featured guest French Montana on the title track. Additional collaborations followed, including "Polaroid" with Jonas Blue and Lennon Stella and "Stack It Up" with A Boogie wit da Hoodie. These songs -- as well as his previously-released hits with Quavo, Zedd, Rita Ora, and J Balvin -- all landed on his official debut album, LP1, which finally arrived in December 2019. ~ Rob Wacey, Rovi
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