Louis Tomlinson, formerly a member of hit boy band One Direction, has had a heartbreaking week in his personal life. His mom, who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia earlier this year, passed away at the all-too-young age of 43. She left behind not just Louis but six other children as well. Only days after her passing on Wednesday, Louis was set to perform on the stage that rocketed him to fame in the first place — The X Factor UK — in order to debut his new single. Nobody in the world would have blamed him should he have decided to cancel the performance and take time to grieve with his siblings, but Tomlinson kept the commitment and took the stage during the live final show on Saturday night to hundreds of screaming supporters.
Before the show, Tomlinson tweeted about the incredible show of support he had already received from fans.
The performance, although it must have been tough for Louis to get through, was an upbeat and fun display from the singer with contributor Steve Aoki backing him up from an elevated stage. It has been enough time since One Direction’s hiatus (AKA breakup, despite the fact no one has outright admitted that) that each former bandmate is reaching the point when they are ready to release their first solo material. Harry has been working hard on Dunkirk and other movie projects, Niall released his debut solo track “This Town” a few weeks back, and Zayn obviously got a head start on all of them since he left the band early. Louis’ first song is great on its own merits — and will probably be a club hit soon enough — but watching the first performance while thinking about his recent loss makes lyrics like “if it all goes wrong, darling just hold on” more poignant than they normally might sound.
After the performance, One Direction’s original champion and promoter Simon Cowell lauded Louis for performing in spite of his recent loss and praised him for the show, telling him his mom was proud of him and always had been. Cowell said,
“What you’ve just done… the bravery… I respect you as an artist and I respect you as a person. Your mum was so proud of you, Louis, she was so looking forward to tonight, she’s watching down on you now and you’ve done her proud.”
Tomlinson tweeted out afterwards that performing was much harder than he expected.
Whether or not “Just Hold On” becomes a chart-topping smash or not, Louis’ ability to push through the pain he must be feeling to perform like that deserves all of the accolades out there.