Ten months and four days. Not even a whole year has gone by since Zayn Malik departed One Direction to “be a normal 22-year-old” and simultaneously pursue a solo career. Twenty-eight days into the new year, Zayn Malik has released his first track from his highly anticipated debut solo album, Mind of Mine (2016). And after listening to “Pillowtalk” just once, I can say that the thought of One Direction isn’t even near my mind anymore.

Many fans have been waiting for “Zolo Zayn” for months, ever since a video leaked of Zayn covering Rae Sremmurd’s “No Type,” and subsequently signed to RCA Records, home to artists like Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson, Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, and many others. Others have been waiting since One Direction’s debut album, or even earlier, when Zayn auditioned for the UK X-Factor back in 2010. Either way, it would be an understatement to say the upcoming album is anticipated.

If you are expecting a “What Makes You Beautiful” pop song, don’t listen to “Pillowtalk.” If you are expecting the rock feel of “Drag Me Down,” don’t listen to “Pillowtalk.” Instead, think more along the lines of Majid Jordan meets The Weeknd meets FKA Twigs — R&B with a little pop sprinkled into it. It’s catchy but not overdone, constructed but not manufactured. It’s not something I ever thought I’d expect from him, but at the same time it makes perfect sense. When I first heard the song, the very first thing I thought was Drake’s “Now and Forever,” which quickly became a comparison to “Right Now” by PARTYNEXTDOOR, before its ideation transformed into its own, a Zayn original.

The video, released on Vevo shortly after the track, was an overwhelming graphics experience, to say the least. There was a lot going on at once, and at times seemed more like an art installation than a music video. Nevertheless, it marked something important, a new era for Zayn.

And that’s all he is now: Zayn. Releasing music under a mononym, Zayn has joined the likes of Beyoncé and Madonna. And like Beyoncé and Madonna, he is climbing up the ladder of success, becoming a household name. While his past in One Direction is still stuck to him, he is making a strong effort at a new identity. Many fans have called 2016 “The Year of Zayn,” and with just one single released thus far causing this sort of response, that title could hold up to be true.

You can buy “Pillowtalk” on iTunes and stream it on Spotify.

Article by Leka Gopal

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