March 12, 2012 at 9:40 AM ET
TODAY welcomed British boy band One Direction to the plaza Monday morning and almost got more than anyone bargained for. Hundreds of adoring, screaming fans (mostly young women, many who had skipped school to be there) blanketed the outdoor stage area bearing signs, cameras and beaming, singing faces.
Never heard of One Direction? Well, if you're over 15 you're probably not alone. The band was assembled on the U.K. version of Simon Cowell's "The X Factor" featuring five young men (all in their late teens, all from England and Ireland) who had hoped to win the competition as solo performers. That didn't work, but they decided to perform as a group and immediately began breaking records and winning awards with songs like "What Makes You Beautiful." They only began hitting the American circuit earlier this month, but immediately drew crowds of thousands -- much like the ones who showed up on TODAY.
Check out what all the fuss was about -- and mark your calendars: One Direction is set to appear as the musical guest on "Saturday Night Live" on April 7.