The third single from British boy band One Direction's debut album Up All Night, finds them declaring to a girl that she's got that 'one thing' they need. The song was written by X Factor vocal coach Kotecha and Swedish songwriters Carl Falk and Rami Yacoub. The same trio also penned One Direction's debut single, "What Makes You Beautiful."
One Direction performed this song live for the first time on Capital FM's Jingle Bell Ball on 4 December 2011, at London's O2 Arena. The group debuted the tune in the United States along with "More Than This" and "What Makes You Beautiful" for the first time on the Today Show at New York City's Rockefeller Center on March 12, 2012. On April 7, 2012 the boys performed both this and "What Makes You Beautiful" on Saturday Night Live. It was the first appearance by a boy band on the show in over three years.
Despite not being released as a single, the song debuted on the US Billboard Hot 100 at #90 on the chart dated March 21, 2012. It subsequently rose higher.
Both Liam Payne and Niall Horan have said this is their favorite song on Up All Night.
Carl Falk told the story of the song during an interview with Examiner.com: "That was originally written as two different songs: One had a really, really good verse. And the other had a really, really good chorus. So we merged those two songs together. It was actually Savan Kotecha who came up with the idea. So we just merged the two songs and turned them into one song. When we did that, everything fell into place.
We all loved the verse. It almost has a lullaby feeling to it, the way it's structured. So it just made sense to have that with a huge chorus and all of that. It felt like the perfect 'sister song' to 'What Makes You Beautiful.' It was a long process of getting there, but once we got there and the song was finished, we thought it could be even better than 'What Makes You Beautiful.' In my mind, 'One Thing' is a better song. It's my favorite out of the three songs [that I have on the Up All Night album]."