Liam Payne's Most Controversial Moments

Like his fellow bandmates, former One Direction member Liam Payne began making a name for himself as a solo artist after the group split. The pressure of being in such a successful boyband seemingly took a toll on all of the members, but Payne has been one of the most vocal about his experiences. Who could forget the iconic lyric "You know, I used to be in 1D. Now I'm out free" from Payne's debut single, "Strip That Down"? It seems safe to say that the musician isn't afraid to speak his mind.

In 2019, he opened up about the good and the bad of being in One Direction in an interview with The Guardian. "It was a point where every day, you didn't know whether it was going to be the end," Payne said of the band's final days. "It was so touch and go, at every single show. I was slowly losing the plot." The "Get Low" singer made similar comments on Logan Paul's "Impaulsive" podcast in 2022, and said comments ended up rubbing a lot of people the wrong way. This wasn't the first time the former One Direction member made headlines for the wrong reasons. Keep reading to revisit Liam Payne's most controversial moments.

Liam Payne's polarizing Impaulsive interview

When Liam Payne appeared on YouTuber Logan Paul's "Impaulsive" podcast in 2022, he did not mince words when it came to the other members of One Direction. Now, what he said about Louis Tomlinson, for example, wasn't so bad. "He's my best mate now but in the band, we hated each other," Payne shared. "Like, come-to-blows hated each other. It was close." 

However, according to Payne, he did have a "come-to-blows" incident with another unnamed band member. "I think it was well known within the band that I don't like taking s**t," the singer said, setting up the scene. "There was one moment when there was an argument backstage and someone, one member in particular, threw me up a wall. So I said to him, 'If you don't remove those hands there's a high likelihood you'll never use them again.'" Whoever the culprit was sure got Payne fired up.

The "Bedroom Floor" singer also got a lot of heat for his controversial comments about Zayn Malik's childhood. "My parents are overly supportive to the point where it's annoying at times," Payne said of Malik. "Zayn had a different upbringing in that sense." The musician also left fans scratching their heads when he said his debut single, "Strip That Down," was a bigger commercial hit than all of his former bandmates' first solo songs. Payne later issued an apology for all of his remarks about Malik.

There were questions about Maya Henry's age

Liam Payne was 26 when he first went public with his then-19-year-old girlfriend, Maya Henry. The questionable age gap didn't stop the couple from professing their love for each other on social media. Payne took to Instagram in 2019 to share a photo of him and Henry getting close. In the caption, he thanked the model for her support, writing, "then last but not least this one @maya_henry for always keeping the biggest smile on my face through all the stress and making me realise how perfect my life really is." The couple would go on to get engaged in 2020 but ultimately go their separate ways.

Throughout the course of the relationship, Payne was criticized for pursuing a teenager. Some people even dug up information that they alleged proved Henry was only 17 years old when she began dating the former boyband member. One Twitter user shared screenshots of articles from a number of sites, including Daily Mail and Famous Birthdays, that alleged Henry was a year younger than she later claimed to be. In one tweet, the user wrote, "In 2016 an article about her 15th birthday party was posted in the Daily Mail which stated she was a freshman in high school. Which would put her in the graduating class of 2019." The thread gained so much attention that Payne tweeted, "19 don't believe everything you read on the internet."

Liam Payne reportedly cheated on his fiancée

Liam Payne and Maya Henry's relationship problems were publicized from the start. The on-again, off-again couple's relationship really hit the skids, however, when a cheating scandal reportedly ended things once and for all. Chaos erupted in 2022 when model Aliana Mawla shared a photo of Payne with his arms wrapped around her to her Instagram Stories, per Us Weekly. The picture was reposted by a fan and many were quick to point out that the woman in the photos was not Payne's fiancée. It seems Henry was bombarded with messages about the post because she took to the comments to ask that people stop sending her the photos. "This is not me and it's hard enough knowing this has happened without seeing it," the model wrote.

It appears that Henry has been able to move on because she later poked fun at the situation. The Texas native posted a TikTok using the infamous audio of influencer Tana Mongeau exclaiming, "We team Bryce out here." In case you missed the punchline there, Payne discussed the possibility of participating in a boxing match during his "Impaulsive" interview, and influencer Bryce Hall responded by challenging the musician to a fight. We wonder how Payne felt watching his ex-fiancée side with his potential opponent — yikes. While the "Get Low" singer has yet to respond to Henry's TikTok, Mawla's representatives denied claims that Payne and Henry were still together while they were involved, per Us Weekly.

His many thoughts on Harry Styles' style

Liam Payne's thoughts on Harry Styles' fashion evolution have raised an eyebrow or two. The musician first shaded Styles during a 2017 interview with Glamour UK after being asked about the possibility of the "As It Was" singer babysitting his son, Bear. Payne said, "I couldn't rely on Harry 'cos I feel like my child would come out dressed in something that I just wouldn't understand." Eesh.

The former One Direction star tried his luck again during an interview with The Face in 2019. Touching on their artistic differences, he said, "I mean, look at the stuff I put out, and the stuff Harry puts out. Polar opposite. I'm like the antichrist version of what Harry is." When asked about Styles' fashion, he was a bit more forgiving this time. "For me, it's a case of fair play to him for doing what he f**king wants," Payne told the outlet. "If he wants to wear one earring and go to the Met Gala wearing something unexpected, what of it? Fair f**king play. I couldn't put myself in that. I'd look f**king... It'd look weird." 

Payne addressed Styles' sartorial moves yet again when the latter appeared on the cover of Vogue in a dress in 2020. When asked about the much-discussed look, Payne said on "Capital Breakfast" (via Us Weekly), "Oh I thought it was great. ... And you know I just think that people don't need to be so bothered about stuff." Hear, hear.

He excluded former One Direction bandmate Zayn Malik

It seems that Liam Payne wasn't happy with Zayn Malik's abrupt departure from One Direction because he often excluded him from the praise he gave his other bandmates. For example, he once left Malik out of a tweet that congratulated his fellow group members on their victory after fans got the hashtag "#OneDirectionBestFans" trending as part of a contest. "@NiallOfficial @Louis_Tomlinson @Harry_Styles can you believe this after so long?!!!" he wrote. "Thank you so much you guys are unbelievable."

On a separate occasion, the father of one took to Twitter to share a photo of him and his fellow bandmates holding up a One Direction poster. On first glance, it seems harmless enough, but if you look closely at the snap, you'll notice that Payne is using his hand to cover up Malik's face on the poster. Thankfully, the former boyband member made it clear that the tweet was meant to be lighthearted, writing, "#makinglightofasituation sorry for the laughs guys." Still, there may have been some truth hidden in that joke; Payne mentioned on the "Impaulsive" podcast that he and Malik weren't always close. "There's many reasons why I dislike Zayn and there's many reasons why I'll always, always be on his side," Payne said.

Fans accused the star of writing biphobic song lyrics

Liam Payne received backlash for vulgar lyrics in his single "Both Ways," a song that gets into intimacy with a bisexual partner. Needless to say, the song wasn't well-received — at all. Fans took to Twitter to share how they felt about the song's lyrics and even created the hashtag "#liampayneisoverparty" to drive their point across. One user wrote, "This is what happens when you fetishizes bisexual women and treat them like object to fulfill your fantasies #liampayneisoverparty." Another shared, "#liampayneisoverparty stop treating bisexual girls like sexual toys, they're not here for your disgusting 3some fantasies, zayn would never do this."

Payne later issued an apology for the song during an interview with Daily Star. "It was never my intention with any of the writing or things I was doing. I was just challenging myself in different areas," he said. The star went on to suggest that he was presented with the song idea and decided to move forward with it. The success of "Strip That Down" drove the musician's team to pitch songs that were similarly provocative. "I was pigeonholed into this kind of thing and of course, I am a young guy I am interested in that sort of stuff," Payne claimed. "I like the idea of the songs and the grooves or certain vibes so I was like "Ok let's go for it."

He's traded jabs with Justin Bieber

Liam Payne has also had ups and downs with Justin Bieber. One Direction and Justin Bieber were among the most successful teen pop idols during the 2010s, so it is perhaps no surprise that there was a bit of competition. Take March 2015 for example, when, in response to a fan's question about Payne's career versus Justin Bieber's, Payne tweeted, "How many times have I been arrested." (As you may recall, Bieber was arrested in 2014 for driving under the influence.) And in September 2015, Bieber took to Snapchat to suggest that his album, which was set to release the same day as One Direction's new project, would earn more sales. At the time, a source told HollywoodLife that the Snap was all in good fun. When Biebs went on radio show "Smash! The Edge" the following month, he said that while wasn't upset about it, he did believe 1D chose the date to drum up press.

Payne shared his perspective of the drama during his "Impaulsive" interview. He explained that he had a one-on-one conversation with Bieber to squash the beef, noting that he empathized with the solo artist because unlike the guys of 1D, Bieber had to navigate sudden and immense fame on his own. The musicians walked away from the conversation on good terms with one another. That said, when Logan Paul suggested Payne take on Bieber in a celebrity boxing match, the former boyband member suggested Bieber wasn't qualified to take him on in the ring. 

He shared personal details about Cheryl Cole

Liam Payne shares his son, Bear, with fellow musician and TV personality Cheryl Cole. For years, much of the couple's journey to parenthood remained a mystery. It seemed that they both chose to keep the more intimate details of their relationship private. Payne shockingly revealed information about Cole's difficult delivery and the couple's relationship dynamic during his interview on "Impaulsive." "To be honest with you, yeah, it ruined a relationship for me in that point but for all the right reasons," Payne told Logan Paul. He went on to share previously unknown details regarding Cole's pregnancy. "His mom, she hemorrhaged quite badly in birth so she was asleep the whole day," he said, adding that he was alone with his son for the first full day after Cole gave birth. Payne may have painted this picture to show how determined he was to be a good father, but his transparency later backfired.

Cheryl Cole reportedly wasn't happy to find out that Payne let the world into their past relationship. According to Closer, a source claimed, "She was quite shocked and disappointed about Liam's oversharing interview, giving away extremely personal info about her — given he knows how private she likes to be. She's chatted things through with him since, hoping to re-establish their privacy boundaries." The source also said Cole was unsettled by Payne's sudden split from Maya Henry, as the cheating rumors are cause for concern.