No longer part of squeaky clean One Direction, Zayn Malik on Friday reintroduced himself as a solo artist – sexy with an urban vibe.
The former boy band star, now simply calling himself Zayn, announced his first solo album, “Mind of Mine,” which is released 25 March, and released its first single, “Pillowtalk.”
A far cry from the innocent tracks of One Direction, “Pillowtalk” features sex, profanity and a racy video in which Zayn dances intimately with model Gigi Hadid – the American model he’s rumoured to be dating – in various states of undress.
Zayn promises in the song to “be in bed all day,” taking a lover to “a place that is so pure, so dirty and raw.”
“It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone,” he sings.
In a striking lyrical touch for one of the most prominent Muslims in Western entertainment, Zayn uses religious imagery to further the song’s theme.
“Pillowtalk — my enemy, my Allah,” he sings.
The 23-year-old British-Pakistani singer recorded the album largely in Los Angeles with the producer Malay, who is best known for his work with Frank Ocean.
In a likely sign of Malay’s influence, the music on “Pillowtalk” is noticeably inspired by urban American R&B, moving away from the bubble-gum pop of One Direction.
The album will come out exactly one year after Malik left One Direction, the band that emerged from “The X Factor” television contest in 2010 to become one of the world’s best-selling acts.
Despite packing arenas full of screaming teenagers, Zayn said in an interview just ahead of the release of “Pillowtalk” that he had long been unhappy in One Direction.
“I never really wanted to be there in the band,” he told Zane Lowe, the head DJ for Apple’s Beats 1 radio.
“I just gave it a go because it was there at the time and then when I realized the direction we were going in — pardon the pun — with the music, I instantly realized it wasn’t for me,” he said.
“I couldn’t put my input in, I couldn’t give my opinion on this or that, because it didn’t fit,” he said.
Zayn’s former band mates in November released a first album without him, “Made in the A.M.,” and went on an indefinite hiatus, with member Louis Tomlinson last week becoming a father.