#Pillowtalk was trending on Twitter this morning. Of course it was – it’s the name of former One Direction member Zayn Malik’s debut solo single, the video for which has just been posted online. The boyband, who have been a four-piece since Malik departed in March and who will soon embark on a two-year ‘hiatus’, can’t sneeze without the social media kraken awaking to pore over the event.
And the pop star has ensured this is a highly anticipated release, which is perhaps odd since he announced he was leaving the band “to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight. Instead he focused that spotlight on a grown-up, ‘credible’ imaging, promising The Sunday Times his upcoming single would be about “dirty and raw sex”.
‘Pillowtalk’ certainly ushers in an entirely different Zayn Malik to the one who walked tentatively onto The X Factor stage to warble his way through ‘Let Me Love You’ by R&B singer Mario in 2010. The video features the eye-brow-raising image of a naked woman with a flowering unfurling from her crotch and Malik snogging his real-life girlfriend, the model Gigi Hadid.
The music itself, however, is anything but eyebrow-raising. A dastardly combination of airy R&B in the verse and overblown power balladry on the chorus, it lacks anything resembling a memorable hook or noteworthy line. That is, if you discount his recycling of the phrase “dirty and raw” and the way he emotes the words “fucking and fighting” like David Brent grunting “argue, fuss and fight” in his version of ‘If You Don’t Know Me By Now’. There are some neat touches in the production, with that scratchy percussion and those snatches of eerie vocals wafting about in the background, but the attention to detail seems unwarranted on such a mediocre track.
At the end of last year, Malik spoke toThe Fader about his thwarted creative ambitions in squeaky-clean One Direction: “To me, it’s like I stood in front of a canvas for about five years, and someone said like, ‘You’re not allowed to paint on this canvas… Now someone removed the plastic and was like, ‘Alright, you can now paint.’ Let’s hope his upcoming album depicts him as someone more closely resembling a pop star with longevity.