It’s been over a year since these two called it quits, but sometimes it takes a fresh start—like a New Year’s Day—to finally open up again. After taking a break from music, Hailee Steinfeld’s “Wrong Direction” lyrics about Niall Horan mark a thoughtful and impassioned return to the field—and the first time she’s sharing details about what happened between her and the former One Direction star.
Fans first learned about Hailee’s new song after the Dickinson actress announced she was going to release new music in early 2020; yet many didn’t take that so literally as to mean the first day of the year. We’re not complaining, though. “Wrong Direction” is a pleasant surprise, and with it, we have more insight into her relationship than ever before.
Hailee and Niall quietly dated for a year before splitting in December 2018. Some sources claimed that their breakup was a result of the common “busy schedule” excuse: At the time, 22-year-old Hailee was busy on her press tour for Bumblebee, whereas 26-year-old Niall was making up for lost time, as he went full-throttle on his solo career after his boyband, One Direction, called it quits in 2015. Yet it seems there might have been more reasons brewing beneath the surface.
Shortly after their split, fans were convinced that Hailee hinted Niall was a narcissist. She shared Julia Michaels’ Instagram Story about dating narcissists to her own account in January 2019, but she shut down the interpretation that she was shading her ex. “No hidden messages, my loves,” she tweeted at the time. “Just reposted an interesting read that I’m sure some of y’all can relate to. Nothing but love!”
Now, however, “Wrong Direction” seems to suggest their was a grain of truth to fans’ suspicions. While Hailee has yet to confirm the lyrics are entirely about Niall, the timeline of press interviews and this song’s release seem to add up. Check out some of the most compelling lyric interpretations below.
Watch the lyric video here:
“Loved me with your worst intentions / Painted us a happy ending”
Many are already beginning to read into Hailee’s lyric about “painted us a happy ending,” referencing the fact that Niall has gone on to address their breakup in relatively matter-of-fact terms. In December, the star told The Tonight Show‘s Jimmy Fallon, “It’s not all sad, all the time. When you break up with someone, it’s not just like, I’m sitting at a window. I’m looking out. I’m feeling sorry for myself. It’s raining against that window,” suggesting that his recent split from Hailee ended amicably enough to feel little grief over it.
“And it’s so gut-wrenchin’ / Fallin’ in the wrong direction”
I mean, if you need any confirmation that this song is about Niall, look no further than this lyric. “Wrong Direction” is a total play on Niall’s former group, One Direction.
“Everyone thinks that you’re somebody else / You even convinced yourself”
Whew. Delusion is a sure sign of narcissism, and while we know Hailee shut down the backlash she received over last year’s repost, there’s a pattern here with lyrics about high ego and a heightened sense of self.
“I just wanted to believe that you were out sleepin’ alone”
Did Niall cheat on Hailee, too? While all signs are pointing to the possibility of bad behavior on his part, this is an added layer than many didn’t even stop to consider until now—making the potential reason behind their split more egregious than expected.