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Malik had left the band's tour last week, citing "stress"

One Direction is one of the most popular bands in the world

CNN  — 

That sound you just heard was the crash of hearts breaking all over the world.

Zayn Malik is leaving One Direction.

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“After five incredible years Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction,” the band said on its Facebook page and tweeted out to its 22.9 million Twitter followers.

“Niall, Harry, Liam and Louis will continue as a four-piece and look forward to the forthcoming concerts of their world tour and recording their fifth album, due to be released later this year.”

Rumors about such a move had started since Malik left the band’s tour last week. At the time, a rep told Rolling Stone he had “been signed off with stress” after a scandal erupted following the publication of a photo showing Malik holding hands with someone other than his fiancee.

Fans on Twitter immediately responded with teary Vine videos and the #AlwaysInOurHeartsZaynMalik hashtag.

Even the Girl Scouts got in on the act with a sweet tribute to the singer.

The band’s Wikipedia page was also quickly updated with a sentence, “Zayn Malik was formerly a member.”

And Spotify said that global streams of One Direction songs were up 330% Wednesday in the hour after the news was announced – a “spike of sadness,” as the music service called it. In the U.S. alone, streams of the band’s music were up 769%. To mark the occasion, Spotify created a special playlist of 1D songs.

Malik, 22, has been part of the very popular British boy band since it was formed (at the urging of Simon Cowell, according to some stories) in 2010 after members auditioned separately for the UK version of “The X Factor.” Cowell became a mentor and signed them to his label.

The group has put out four albums, and its hits include “Best Song Ever” and “Story of My Life.” Their latest album, “Four,” came out in November.

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Fans hysterical after Zayn quits One Direction
02:09 - Source: CNN