Published: April 13th, 2016
While ZAYN’s first solo-album, “Mind of Mine,” attempts to break Zayn Malik, former One Direction band member, away from pop stardom, it does a weak job.
Zayn Malik, as he was formally known, met the other boys from One Direction, Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne and Niall Horan, on the “X Factor UK” where judge, Simon Cowell formed the boyband. For five years, ZAYN made album after album with One Direction, not saying a word about the constraint he felt from being in the band.
On March 25, 2015, ZAYN and One Direction released a statement via Facebook announcing his departure from the band. Since then, ZAYN has tried to create a new image for himself as an R&B artist, steering himself away from what he considers the “music [he] would not listen to.”
ZAYN said countless times, in almost every interview, that One Direction’s management, Modest!, held him back from being himself and singing his songs the way he intended them to be sung. One Direction’s fourth album, “FOUR,” did not even have most of the songs he had written, presumably because of the R&B hooks and verses he used. As a result, ZAYN felt compelled to leave the boyband to sign his own record deal with RCA records.
Despite the fact that ZAYN has left One Direction, he is still seen as the dark and mysterious singer from the famous heartthrob boyband. In one interview that ZAYN gave after he left, he said that it was not about being the best anymore; it was about making music that really spoke to him. But if you look closely, all the fans he has now, his famous “zquad,” are fans from One Direction who supported his decision to leave. Obviously, this isn’t much help to ZAYN in getting rid of his acclaimed boyband image. Additionally, all the music critics are comparing his music now to his past music in the band.
ZAYN is always going to have that boyband image lurking in the shadows behind him, giving critics ammunition to fire against him. Since he had been in One Direction for so long, it is going to be hard for him to shed that image, especially since this is his first year in the music world as a solo-artist.
While he promotes his album as R&B, it ranges between many different genres. His first single, “PILLOWTALK, (also written as “PiLlOwT4lK”) stays in the pop genre while “LIKE I WOULD” veers into EDM. The album does possess some R&B tracks as well, such as “BeFoUr” and “sHe.”
However, while some of ZAYN’s songs seem nonessential, others take a more meaningful and spiritual approach.
The track that ZAYN has as an intermission song, “fLoWer,” is sung in Urdu, his father’s native language, and it leans towards the more spiritual, cultural side. ZAYN singing in Urdu makes the song much more momentous, as it strikes home and hits the heart. The lyrics are translated to mean, “Until the flower of this love has blossomed / This heart won’t be at peace / Give me your heart / Give me your heart / Give me your heart,” which is a saying in his family. This song is meant to show a personal relationship with his father while, at the same time, form a strong bond between him and his fans.
ZAYN also tried to get vulgar with his lyrics, unlike those in his former albums from the band. His song “TiO,” which stands for “Take it Off,” has the lyrics, “I just want to watch you when you take it off/ Take off all your makeup, baby, take it off/ I just want to watch you when you take it off/ Take off all your clothes and watch you take them off.” Similarly, in his song “BoRdErSz,” ZAYN sings “So take it off/ Let’s break down all of our walls/ Right now I wanna see it all/ I don’t wanna cool off/ So let’s cross the lines we lost/ Right now I wanna see it all/ You were right on the border.”
“Mind of Mine” was released exactly a year after he left One Direction, March 25. His bizarre capitalization of words also shows how hard ZAYN is working to try to be different and unique. He fails to do so with the album cover for “Mind of Mine,” as it copies earlier album covers by Lil Wayne for “The Carter III” and “The Carter IV.”
Even though “Mind of Mine” boasts some catchy tunes such as “PILLOWTALK” and “iT’s YoU,” his album doesn’t fully remove him from his past boyband life. ZAYN has made his mark as a new artist, thanks to all his loyal fans from the “zquad.” Even so, he will always be remembered as the dark and enigmatic boy in a chart-topper pop group.