By Lauren Lopez
When you’re a fan of an artist, dates are important things to remember. Tours, album releases, birthdays, and anniversaries. Every one means something different.
For fans of One Direction, July 23, 2010, was always the most important date, because it was the day they were formed. But soon March 25, 2015, became a more somber date to remember when Zayn Malik announced his departure from the band.
There was a lot of tension surrounding this change. Rumors spread uncontrollably, and all five artists were asked to detail what happened. At the end of the day, Malik wasn’t happy being in a boy band. He didn’t feel able to give his genuine input, because the kind of music he wanted to produce was not what One Direction was performing.
So the other four members continued to rack up dates, touring and releasing their fifth studio album, Made In The AM, until they decided to go on hiatus at the end of last year. It was then that Malik finally had one of his own. On January 29, he released his first single, “PILLOWTALK.”
After five years, Malik is finally able to make the music he has always wanted. Opening the track with the lyrics “climb on board,” it’s as if he’s inviting all of his fans, both old and new, to join him on this journey.
While the single is reminiscent of Malik’s days in One Direction, it’s all him. His high notes aren’t interrupted by four other voices singing below him. He owns the sound without being the few edgy notes interspersed throughout a pop song. It’s a fairly simple song, and probably doesn’t even begin to touch upon all that Malik is capable of, but it definitely distinguishes him as a solo artist and not just a former member of a boy band.
Malik posted the single as well as a music video on iTunes, Spotify, and Vevo, all of which are now listed under the name, ZAYN. The music video, features his rumored girlfriend, model Gigi Hadid, and actress Jodie Turner-Smith. The two women represent the conflicting situations of “paradise” and “war zone” established in the song.
“PILLOWTALK” might seem a little risqué for a former member of a boy band. While One Direction wrote their fair share of songs about sex, the accompaniment of the pop beat always made it sound innocent enough to reach a wide audience. This lack of disguise in the single is yet another example of Malik coming into his own, even if it means going from one extreme to the other.
Thus far, the fans seem to have had mostly positive responses to the single. Though not all fans of Malik are fans of One Direction and vice versa, there is a serious overlap, and the advent of Malik’s new album, Mind of Mine, in March will definitely give the fans something to listen to while One Direction is on hiatus.
No matter one’s feelings toward Malik, fans of One Direction will never forget that he started out as Zain Malik, a contestant on X-Factor. He was morphed into Zayn Malik of One Direction. Five years later, he emerges as ZAYN.