Lets face it, we all thought Harry Styles would be the one to “do a Robbie” and breakaway in search of solo stardom. Surely his “rock-star” attitude made him the most obvious candidate? Yet in March 2015 1D’s most reluctant member did the unthinkable, breaking apart not only the band itself, but also millions of girl’s (and probably plenty of boy’s) hearts across the world. Looking back now it makes the most sense that Zayn Malik, who always seemed to think he was too cool for the teen pop produce One Direction churned out, would be the first to try the solo route. Subsequently rumours of his working alongside producer Naughty Boy flew, and a more R&B sounding Malik looked like it was on the cards. So what exactly would we hear from the Bradford bad boy, when ten months later and now going by the mononym Zayn, Pillowtalk was released?
I have to say I was impressed with the results. Pillowtalk is a strangely luscious track, building slow, grinding backdrops into powerful (for a One Direction singer) yet seductive chorus lines. Zayn definitely demonstrates a sexiness well beyond what I imagine most 23-year-old’s are capable of exuding. Sure the more X-rated lyrics “In bed all day / Fucking and fighting on / It’s a paradise and it’s a warzone” seem to have been shoehorned in to prove just how mature and adult he is now, but they fit with the song’s overall appeal. Malik seems more comfortable presenting this side than he ever did in the band (remember when he stormed off at boot camp because he didn’t want to dance?) and it shows in the way his sultry vocals handle the acrobatics of the song surprisingly well.
To be honest, the state the charts have been in at the moment, I think Pillowtalk deserves the Number 1 spot. After weeks of Bieber and a few helpings of Mendes, Zayn’s offering brings a refreshingly cool mainstream alternative to the charts. No doubt the heartthrob’s large (and probably growing) fan base has helped to propel Pillowtalk to the top, but I confess that I find myself wanting to join their ranks.
The singer’s newly emerging adult side is also evident in Pillowtalk’s video. It’s dark kaleidoscope of yonic imagery and smoky mirror effects lies somewhere between futuristic art-house and high school Photoshop project, proving that while Zayn’s aesthetic is heading in the right direction, he’s still got a little way to go. What’s more, I can’t decide whether model Gigi Hadid’s similarity to Malik’s ex-fiancé Perrie Edwards is an awkward mistake or a big middle finger up to her. Whatever the case, he clearly has a thing for blondes!
Looking towards the rest of the chart, I can’t help but feel a tad sorry for Rihanna this week. After years of building hype ahead of Anti’s release, lead single Work’s ascension to fourth place is a valiant effort considering her path has been blocked by the ex-One Directioner. And with Beyoncé’s sudden release of Formation (Dirty), the Barbadian singer probably has no hope of ever getting there. Furthermore Drake’s Summer Sixteen is sure to do well following the success of Hotline Bling. To be honest, whatever can keep the mess that is Jonas Blue and Dakota’s reworking of Fast Car off number one, even if it is Sean Mendes, has to be a good thing right?