The world has had 24 hours to process the fact that Zayn Malik has formally left One Direction, but it took less than 24 seconds for BSB fans to dredge up their feelings from when Kevin Richardson left the Backstreet Boys in 2006. Some fans have compared the two occurrences, some fans say there is no comparison, some fans are reaching out to comfort the 1D fandom, and some fans don’t care at all – they just want more selfies from Nick Carter.
So what’s to consider before you send out that raging tweet about how Kevin was more important or how fans should calm down? We’ll tell you why you should think twice.
1. The Official Statements.
Here is Kevin’s official statement upon leaving in 2006:
“After 13 years of what can only be described as a dream come true, I have decided that it is time to leave the Backstreet Boys. It was a very tough decision for me but one that was necessary in order to move on with the next chapter of my life,” said Richardson, 34, adding that he’s leaving to pursue other interests.
“I would like to thank the Backstreet fans for all the beautiful memories we have shared together and look forward to including you in the next phase of my life. I wish my brothers continued success and look forward to their new album.”
Here is Zayn’s official statement upon leaving in 2015:
“My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight,” he said.
Calling Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson his “four friends for life,” Malik added, “I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”
Here’s the thing, friends – Kevin’s statement, while it outraged us, gave us a sense of peace. Kevin ensured us that he was pursuing other interests and that we would be included, softening the blow of his absence a little. With Zayn openly stating that he wants to move away from the spotlight, fans are obviously reacting differently. One Direction fans are not sure if/when they’ll ever see Zayn perform again and that’s tough to swallow.
2. The Age Difference.
Kevin was 34 when he made the decision to leave the group. He had been married for 6 years and had openly expressed his distaste for their record label at the time as well wanting to pursue an acting career. While his leaving was something that was tough to cope with, it was not as shocking as Zayn’s departure.
Zayn is 22 with a lot of life ahead of him and has stated that he wants time to be normal. While his normal 22-year-old self may not be able to ever be completely void of the celebrity that he has achieved, it will take a good while before he can be out of the public eye.
The age difference also refers to the fans. While a lot of BSB fans were older when Kevin left (it wasn’t 1999!), the 1D fans (for the most part) are still fanbabies. These girls are still enjoying the innocence of life and put One Direction on a pedestal that they can do no wrong. Zayn Malik leaving is literally changing their worlds and it’s a tough heartbreak.
3. The Other Boys.
Both Kevin and Zayn consented to their bands continuing as a foursome, but the response is different. While the remaining Backstreet Boys were always very adamant about leaving the door open for Kevin’s (eventual) return (“The door will always be open for him to return to the Backstreet Boys. We wish him the all the best in his future endeavors”), the remaining boys of One Direction seem a little stunned by their bandmate’s departure. While they are committed to continuing their tour and going forward with their planned projects, nothing has been stated about how the band would feel about Zayn’s return if he ever changed his mind.
While the news is still fresh and Harry, Liam, Niall, and Louis haven’t had much time to process it, we’re sure that the uncertainty of the entire situation has left the hole in the hearts of Directioners a little wider. We didn’t know if Kevin would ever return, but we were sure that the remaining Backstreet Boys were his biggest supporters.
4. The Era.
The two bands are in totally different parts of their career at this point.
In 2006, the Backstreet Boys fame had died down from the Millennium era, they had come back from a hiatus to release and tour for Never Gone, and things were generally pretty quiet when Kevin decided to leave. The media reported it, online message boards were blowing up, and girls were on their phones crying about it. The difference is, that we had time to get used to the idea of the Backstreet Boys as a foursome before we had to see/hear them in their Kevin-less state.
One Direction has only been together 5 years, has released 4 albums, been on a constant worldwide tour loop and their fame is still as big as ever. Zayn’s leaving comes mid-tour and months before a new album drops. This is the equivalent to Kevin leaving during the Millennium tour. Our hysteria would have been much more immense. There’s also the social media factor. The news is like wildfire and it’s not dying down. Consider this next time you think 1D fans are overreacting.
5. Fan Heartbreak Is The Worst And We Should All Feel For Each Other.
Backstreet Boys fans have been through it, guys. Album highs and lows, marriages, babies, rehab, arrests, accusations, Lou Pearlman, long breaks, a member leaving and returning and all of it has rocked us, shocked us, and made us lean on each other a little more. It doesn’t matter that the BSB have been around for 22 years and that 1D has been around for 5 years. It doesn’t matter that they don’t dance. It doesn’t matter that they were formed from a reality show and shot straight to the top while BSB took years to even be recognized. There’s need to shove one fandom into another fandom’s face or claim one band is better than the other. Because honestly, we sound like our parents (“Well all of their music sounds the same! Back in my day, the Beach Boys wrote their own music…”)
At the end of the day, there are millions of us that love two different sets of 5 different boys in a band (or maybe we love them all). We’ve been there and we do know how it feels, but we should also be considerate of all of the above. Don’t make promises that he’ll come back (because that SUCKS) and don’t play the “I’m not surprised” game (because that makes you rude), just be understanding. 1D fans don’t care that Kevin left once upon a time, but they might care that we survived dark times and that BSB would have gone on as a successful foursome even if Kevin didn’t come back.
Stop judging. Stop comparing. Just feel for your fellow fangirls. It’s good for the world. ❤