Auditions for the seventh season took place throughout June and July 2010. Simon Cowell, Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole returned as judges, along with special guest judges that were brought in to replace Dannii Minogue, who was on maternity leave. Cheryl missed the auditions in Manchester and bootcamp because she had malaria.
Liam Payne's audition took place in Birmingham at the LG Arena. Before his audition. He spoke about his first appearance on The X Factor in 2008 at the age of 14 in the show's fifth season. He made it to the judges' house, but Simon felt he was not ready for the competition, and asked him to come back in two years. He returned for the seventh season in 2010 and performed "Cry Me a River". He received a standing ovation from guest judge Natalie Imbruglia, Simon, and the audience; he was unanimously put through.
Harry Styles auditioned in Manchester at Manchester Central at sixteen years of age. Before his audition, he spoke with Dermot about wanting a professional opinion on his singing because up until then his mom was the one telling him he was a good singer. He performed "Isn't She Lovely" by Stevie Wonder and received positive comments from Simon and Nicole Scherzinger, while Louis Walsh had doubts on whether he was ready to progress in the competition.
Niall Horan auditioned in Dublin at the Convention Centre Dublin at sixteen years old on June 28, 2010. At the audition he spoke about what he hopes to accomplish, and comparisons he's received to Justin Bieber. Later on in the documentary One Direction: A Year in the Making he revealed that he felt like he had no hope in making it through among all the other people auditioning. He sang "So Sick" and received mixed opinions from the judges. Louis Walsh was in his favor, but Cheryl Cole and guest judge Katy Perry felt he needed some time to grow. Simon voted to let him through, Cheryl said no, and Louis quickly added in his yes, and left Niall 's fate up to Katy. She was hesitant and felt he was too young, but decided to vote yes and told him, "Don't let us down."
Zayn Malik's audition was not initially broadcast, but was later shown on The Xtra Factor. He auditioned in Manchester at Manchester Central at seventeen years old. Zayn later revealed in One Direction: A Year in the Making that all he hoped for from the audition, was for someone to tell him he could sing. At the audition he sang "Let Me Love You" by Mario. All three judges present — Simon , Louis , and Nicole — gave him a yes and put him through.
The bootcamp stage of the competition began on July 22, 2010 at Wembley Arena in London. One the first day, Simon and Louis Walsh split the 211 acts into four categories: Boys (at time, Zayn, Harry, Liam, Louis and Niall's category), Girls, Over 25s and Groups. Each act received vocal coaching and later performed one song: the Boys sang "Man in the Mirror", the Girls sang "If I Were a Boy", the Over 25s sang "Poker Face" and the Groups sang "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now". At the end of the day, the number of acts was cut to 108.
On the second day, everyone was given dance lessons by Brian Friedman. Zayn was noted for refusing to dance because he felt he would embarrass himself. However, by refusing, he was running the risk of elimination. Simon noticed him missing from the dance routine and went backstage to convince him to return.
Nicole Scherzinger returned as a guest judge on the third day. Each act performed one song from a pre-determined list of 40. Liam and Harry both selected "Stop Crying your Heart Out" by Oasis. Niall selected "Champagne Supernova" and Louis sang "Make You Feel My Love". Zayn's performance wasn't broadcast.
All five boys failed to qualify for the Boys category and were eliminated. Harry, Liam, and Niall were shown on camera upset and crying after leaving the stage. However, since the groups category was the weakest, it had been decided that five rejected soloists from the Boys category and four from the Girls category would be asked to form two groups. Harry, Liam, Louis, Niall and Zayn were called back to the stage, and the judges told them that they were too talented to let go of. The groups were given five minutes to decide whether they wanted to go home as solo artists, or be put together in a group to stay and compete. They all agreed to compete as a group. The name "One Direction" was suggested by Harry, while all boys were texting each other with names that would sound good being said by the The X Factor live shows announcer. All the boys agreed that it would be the perfect name
After bootcamp, each judge was assigned a category to mentor. Dannii received the Boys, Cheryl was assigned the Girls, Simon got the Groups (One Direction's category), and much to his dismay, Louis Walsh received the Over-28s. Cowell also mentioned that when he found out he was going to mentor the Groups he thought "I really got the worst one ever. I don't want to work with people I don't believe in (Simon gave negative comments to most of the Groups in their auditions). I think there's some potential"
The group was initially worried about whether bandmate Louis Tomlinson, who had stepped on a sea urchin earlier in the day, would make it back from the hospital in time to perform. The rest of the members of the group practised without Louis, but were very nervous because the song wasn't working without him. Harry said "The clock is ticking and it's getting closer and closer to our performance, so we're really just waiting around, hoping that he turns up". Tomlinson made it in time. The rest of the group hugged and carried him inside. They sang "Torn" by Natalie Imbruglia (X Factor Guest Judge).
In the Judges' Decisions Episode Simon told the band: "My head is saying this is a risk, and my heart is saying you deserve a shot, and that's why it's been difficult. Guys, I've made a decision. I've gone with my heart. You're through". The excited group hugged and Harry snuck over to hug Simon.
On the First Live Show the group sang "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay. Harry was overcome by stage fright in rehearsals and fell ill, but pulled through in time for the live performance. Zayn was nervous, too, as he was off time during practice and couldn't afford to make a mistake. Vocal coach Savan Kotecha told the rest of the members to help him out while on stage. Judge Louis Walsh said they could be the next big boyband, with a lot a work. He mentioned he wasn't very happy with the styling. Simon completly froze while the audience booed Walsh. Cheryl Cole and Dannii Minogue gave positive reviews, saying that they made the song their own and were meant to be together as a group. Cowell said it was brilliant and that when one of them started to lose his timing, Liam stepped in and they all solved it, as good bands do.
The Video Diaries are a series of videos released by One Direction during their time on the X-Factor. During the Video Dairies, the members would entertain their viewers by answering questions from the fans and doing a variety of activities.