When Zayn Malik left One Direction, it was a media blowout. Fans mourned. Talking heads debated if this was the untimely end of the boy band or just Malik's own musical aspirations.
But they proved wrong on both counts; One Direction remains a group not to be trifled with (although breakup rumors continue to abound), and Zayn Malik is releasing his very first solo album. Fans are excited to see what the crooner will be bringing to the musical world—and how much influence the boy band has had on his solo musical direction. Here are the best moments leading up to the release of Zayn Malik's new solo album, Mind Of Mine.
After his departure from One Direction, fans were unsure what Malik's next move would be. Would the singer follow in the footsteps of his former bandmates, or would his musical influences take him down another path? Most significantly, would he still possess the power to win over fans? Those questions were resoundingly answered with the release of his single "Pillowtalk." With intense vocals, a catchy beat, and a surprisingly sexy video (featuring Malik's main squeeze supermodel Gigi Hadid), Zayn proved that his solo move was going to be anything but boring.
The Looks Have It
A photo posted by Zayn Malik (@zayn) on Mar 21, 2016 at 6:59am PDT
In the post 1D time, Malik has been surprisingly candid about his reasons for leaving the boy group. He expressed frustration that he was not allowed to experiment musically (something he is determined to rectify on his solo debut), as well as the limitations placed on his looks. According to the pop star, he was not allowed to dye his hair or keep a beard, as people were worried the effect would leave him looking distinctly older than his bandmates. Now free of such constraints, Zayn is happily rocking blond tips and a healthy five o'clock shadow—both to great advantage (and don't worry, the head tattoo is fake).
Zayn Malik on distant One Direction relationship: 'Nobody's reached out. So... whatever' https://t.co/iJ8hFULBgd pic.twitter.com/gTPNO4agjh — NME (@NME) March 23, 2016
Out of all the post-One Direction revelations Malik has offered during his publicity tour, perhaps the most shocking is that he hasn't spoken to any of the band members since he left. In the 12 months since he parted ways with them, not a single one of his former bandmates has reached out or tried to contact him in any way. It's a disheartening statement, particularly for fans that were clinging to hope that a reunion could be in the cards. But Malik definitely has his eyes on what the future holds (particularly when it comes to Mind of Mine) and little time to dwell on past altercations.
If you're going solo, go big: that is how Zayn Malik handled his first ever television performance without One Direction by his side. In February he gave a stellar performance of "It's You" on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, backed by The Roots. It was the first time the song had been performed anywhere, and marked Malik's return to live music. Moody and soulful, the song bids goodbye to the boy band innocence of his past and opens up a whole new world for Malik's musical future. Now that's how you do a solo career.