So this is kind of a big deal. Not just for One Direction fans worldwide, but for everyone. Zayn Malik has released his first solo single, ‘PILLOWTALK’, since leaving 1D just under a year ago.
We’ve all been waiting to hear what the smooth-toned, chiselled twenty two year old would offer the world as just ‘ZAYN’. Not ‘Zayn from One Direction’ or ‘the fit one’. Just ‘ZAYN’. But is it everything we hoped for? Is it the smooth R&B with a pop twist, Chris Brown meets Justin Bieber with a Bradford accent breakout single we’ve all been dreaming of? Honestly? Not quite.
I mean, it is almost all those things, but it doesn’t quite live up to expectations. This was supposed to be the moment everyone went “oh my god Zayn should have gone solo years ago”. But, ‘Pillow Talk’ doesn’t quite inspire that reaction. It’s a good song, don’t get me wrong. But, Zayn is clearly new to song-writing, and it shows in this somewhat unoriginal pop/R&B number. The subject of his lyrics, sex, is just a bit obvious. So many male R&B artists have done it and continue to do it in the same way, Zayn is just joining the parade. “We’ll piss off the neighbours” he sings, “in bed all day fucking you”. Surely he could have released something more meaningful following the turbulent year he’s had; making a decision that some saw as a huge career mistake; striving to establish his own identity in the music industry; wanting to be ‘a normal 22 year old’. Sex, isn’t exactly a ground-breaking subject.
The best thing about it is that he’s managed to make a video celebrating women and their bodies without objectifying them
Having said that, he has done everything possible to distance himself from the PG world of boybands and reclaim his own identity with this single. Swearing, referencing his religion and singing explicitly about sex, all make it clear that he’s trying to show the world he is his own person and his own artist with a vision. Props to him for that. One thing that does live up to expectation is his voice, which remains as spine-tingling and effortless as ever. Nobody can say ‘Zayn Malik can’t sing’, so at least that’s one thing he doesn’t have to prove anymore.
Finally, the video. Some people have told me it’s shit, other people were clearly so overwhelmed by seeing the doe-eyed, silver-haired hunk in his own video (making out with his GIRLFRIEND) that they could hardly form an opinion on the rest of the video. Personally, I think it’s cool that Zayn’s continued his love of art into this heavily animated video, although he may have overdone it slightly. The best thing about it is that he’s managed to make a video celebrating women and their bodies without objectifying them. Zayn has always cited the women in his life, who he was constantly surrounded by growing up, as one of his biggest influences, so it’s great to see them crossing over into his art too.
In conclusion, ‘Pillow Talk’ is good, it’s not amazing, but it is good. It’s slow-burning, cool and worlds away from One Direction, it’s even been stuck in my head for some of today. But, it is by no means my new favourite song and it does not live up to all my hopes and dreams. I’m looking forward to his album, just to see if it gets better, but sorry Zayn I won’t be buying this single.