Since parting ways with One Direction less than a year ago, Zayn Malik has dropped several hints about what to expect from his newly-minted solo career. He spoke about adopting a more R&B-influenced sound. He pursued an edgier aesthetic. He craved authenticity and creative control. And damn it, he wanted to sing about sex.
Well, turns out he really wasn’t kidding about that last bit. Despite the forewarning that this was going to be a “dirty and raw” debut, Zayn’s first solo single, “Pillowtalk,” eclipses all expectations for just how libidinous his music could be. The loud, sexy track has F-bombs and heavy beats galore, but Zayn’s vocals stand front and center, shining on one hell of a towering chorus.
Zayn released “Pillowtalk” and its accompanying video late Thursday night, less than 24 hours after revealing the title of his upcoming album, Mind Of Mine, in an interview with Beats 1. In that same interview, the 23-year-old was curiously tight-lipped about his rumored girlfriend, Gigi Hadid, murmuring something about being “good friends.” But, uh, you can go ahead and squash any leftover doubts you may have had about their coupledom, because #Zigi is here. #Zigi is now.
In the vid, Zayn and Gigi navigate a kaleidoscopic paradise and war zone, where they make out, make up and cry black tears as Zayn sings, “So we’ll piss off the neighbors/ In the place that feels the tears/ The place to lose your fears/ Yeah, reckless behavior/ A place that is so pure, so dirty and raw/ Be in the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day/ F–king you, and fighting on/ It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone.”
In an interview with Sunday Times Culture magazine earlier this week, Zayn described “Pillowtalk” as “so pure, so dirty and raw” (little did we know he was actually quoting the song at the time), adding that he’s not glazing over its explicitly sexual theme.
“I think I’m pretty black and white about what it’s about,” he said. “Everybody has sex, and it’s something people wanna hear about. It’s part of everybody’s life, a very big part of life! And you don’t wanna sweep it under the carpet. It has to be talked about.”
Though “Pillowtalk” is the first full single we’ve heard from Zayn, a snippet of a new song called “Befour” was previously featured in a video accompanying his Fader magazine profile. Both tracks are expected to appear on Mind Of Mine, which is due to arrive March 25 (exactly one year after leaving 1D).