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Boy band mania spreads as One Direction conquer U.S.

By Piya Sinha-Roy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Boy band One Direction never dreamed that they could conquer the U.S. so early in their career, but after becoming the first UK group to see their debut album enter at No. 1 on the Billboard chart last week, the boys from Britain are relishing their stateside welcome.

"Since we've been out here, it's been crazy, it seems to have blown up a bit, it's been insane for us, we're just riding the wave, working hard and having a lot of fun," said band member Harry Styles.

Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Louis Tomlinson and Styles, all aged between 18 and 21, joined forces during the 2010 edition of Britain's "The X Factor," after judge Simon Cowell suggested that the boys, who were competing individually, should sing together as a band.

After coming in third place on the show, the band's debut single, "What Makes You Beautiful," topped the UK singles chart, giving them a strong foundation to bring their album, "Up All Night" - a collection of infectious pop songs - to the U.S. market.

"When you're younger, America's this huge place where you go on holiday, and now we're working out here and doing shows, it's crazy," said Styles.

The boys have become hot property in the U.S., with hundreds of excited young girls turning up to their scheduled appearances and gaining a strong following on social media platforms. More than 3.9 million Facebook fans and 2.5 million followers on Twitter, often calling themselves 'Directioners.'

"Up All Night" sold more than 176,000 copies in its first week, making chart history in the United States.

"We wouldn't have been able to get that number one without the fans. We just can't thank them enough, because it was their work as much as ours," said Tomlinson.

One Direction will be performing at Saturday's Kid's Choice Awards and said they have a special surprise up their sleeves for their fans when they sing their hit song "What Makes You Beautiful."

"We've done the song on a few different shows now, so we just wanted to make this one as big as possible, and surprise the fans with the performance side of things. We've got a big production and we want to get the audience involved with us," said Styles.

The boys will be performing alongside pop star Katy Perry at the annual awards show honoring children's favorite music, television, film and pop culture acts, with celebrities often getting slimed with a gooey green substance on stage.

The Kid's Choice Awards will be hosted by actor Will Smith, with appearances by Michelle Obama, Nicki Minaj, Zac Efron and Big Time Rush, and will air on Saturday on Nickelodeon cable channel.

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy; Editing by Jill Serjeant)

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