Thursday, April 7, 2016

Four Problems Zayn Needs to Fix Before a Solo Flop
[Contributor: Megan Mann]

It seems that it was just yesterday that out of the blue, Zayn Malik dropped his first single, "Pillow Talk" and its accompanying video. It was followed by a release date for his album, two more singles, a slew of interesting personal choices, and a rather lackluster performance on The Tonight Show.

Now, here we are after his debut solo album Mind of Mine was released. While he’s certainly given us a diverse trio of singles, there’s are also a great deal of issues with this release and his future success.

There are plenty of people who believe that Zayn will succeed in his solo career... but I’m not in that percentage of people. Not because I’m a major One Direction fan, although some might believe that could play into my feelings, but because I’m thinking realistically. Here are just a handful of reasons why Zayn Malik either needs to get it together or understand that solo success is not in the cards for him.


Listen, Zayn has an absolutely incredible voice. His range is astounding and there are a few songs from his boy band days that could probably wake me instantly from a coma (see specifically: his two major high notes in "You & I"). When "Pillow Talk" dropped, I was hesitant to listen, but I clicked play anyway.

What made me sad wasn’t that he was pretending he was breaking free from his “wholesome boy band days” by dropping the f-bomb and making a song entirely about sex (One Direction’s lyrics, while less blatant and more double entendre, are still sexual but for a different audience). That was fine. What was disappointing was that his voice seriously was lacking. He’s free to do whatever he wants with it, yet here he is sounding like he’s only just started.

It didn’t get much better on his second single "It’s You." He still sounded like he wasn’t sure of himself and it didn’t have much going for it. Sure, his vocals got a little better on "Like I Would." I was a little more impressed, but it still made me wonder if he was just going to be lackluster throughout the entire record.

I really do believe that Zayn has an astounding voice. But if he doesn’t start utilizing it, his body of work won’t get much better and people will lose interest fast.


I have spent the last handful of summers in and out of venues and stadiums seeing multiple dates of One Direction tours. I can say with 100% certainty that Zayn lacks any and all stage presence. I’ve been far away and shrugged it off, and been right on the barricade and witnessed how ridiculously bored he was while singing. Ad once the song ended — the second the music cut — out came the ear pieces and off he trudged, hardly speaking to the audience for even a moment of gratitude.

With his new solo venture, Zayn will not be able to do that. He doesn’t have four other more lively (and appreciative of their opportunity) guys to cover for him. And Zayn can cite that he’s a shy person, but if so, then he’s in the wrong business. His performance rests entirely on his shoulders.

This is a problem made evident during his Tonight Show appearance. It was boring and lackluster and did little in the way of selling him as an artist. Sure, Adele is a solo artist, wears the same dress every night, and doesn’t move around a lot, but she’s engaging. It’s as if Zayn can’t be bothered with such a menial task. If you can’t pull your audience in and make it an intimate, worthwhile experience, you’re not going to have very many ticket sales.


As with Zayn's onstage persona, the same can be said for his interviews. As a solo act, you cannot just avoid interviews. It’s as if he’s making a point to stay out of major publications and choosing instead to be focusing on more alternative outlets.

However, without the other four guys behind him, Zayn doesn’t have someone to steer the conversations for him. He had a great deal of supporters on his side despite leaving the group, but once the interviews started rolling in and Zayn made a bevy of disparaging comments toward his former group, it was hard to want to support him.

Take a look at Justin Timberlake — the success story we all love and know. When he left *NSYNC, he never made negative comments about his experience, his time, or his former bandmates. Instead, Justin was humble and positive and wanted to focus on where he was then, rather than where he had been. He never took jabs to gain publicity, and we loved him all the more for it.

Zayn has not followed that path and has instead used the few interviews he has done to focus on what an awful time he had, how poorly he was treated, how he hated the One Direction sound, and how he wants to distance himself from it as much as possible.

... Bruh, if you want to gain fans or keep the ones you had before, don’t trash where you’ve been. Applaud them, speak positively, and move on. Don’t use them as a means to an end.


Okay, seriously. Despite all of the rude comments he has made, he still had some former fans on his side. That was until he decided that the release date of his first album was the anniversary of the day it was announced that he was leaving One Direction.

That goes to show that he’s not exactly a team player and is going to continue to take jabs throughout his career. If you can’t move on amicably and can’t quit doing petty things like that, you’re not going to be someone that people are going to want to work with.

Don’t get me wrong: I love a good solo success story. Three-quarters of The Beatles (sorry, Ringo), Ricky Martin, Justin Timberlake, that super sexual song Jordan Knight gave us, Beyonce, Mel C. — they’ve all managed to leave their former groups with as little controversy as they could manage and never went back. They didn't resort to trashing their old pals as a way to sell more records.

Zayn still has a lot to learn if he intends to stay in this business. Or, at the very least, he needs to find someone who is willing to tell him "no," or to dial the behavior way back. He needs to learn how to better handle himself onstage and in the press, otherwise people are going to very quickly turn their backs on him and become uninterested.

Zayn, boo, I loved you. I thought you were carved from stone in a Renaissance studio and had the voice of an angel to match. Now I’m worried you’re high on solo power and resting on your talent. You don’t have to be a jerk to be successful. You don’t have to hold back on your vocals to match a “specific R&B sound.” You can still be nice, be engaging, and have a voice to match.


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