ENTERTAINMENT: Zayn Malik Hits Right Notes With Debut Album

(Photo courtesy telegraph.co.uk)

(Photo courtesy telegraph.co.uk)

By Nisali Fernando – Staff Reporter

From mesmerizing falsettos to mind-bending musicality, Zayn Malik proves his worth in the world of music.

Zayn Malik released his debut album, “Mind of Mine” on March 25. “MoM” allows listeners a walk through his mind and it’s a sort of jumbled yet, organized mess. He manages to compress a story of love, lust, heartbreak, and carelessness into 18 well-crafted songs (included in the Deluxe version) Over the course of a year, Malik has managed to compose, arrange, and release an album that sets the bar incredibly high for pop music. Yet the 23 year old Brit is no stranger to the world of music, having only a year prior been a member of the boyband, One Direction.

When Malik left One Direction, speaking behalf on every One Direction fan in the world, there was a lot of crying. A lot of crying and a lot of anger. He was a driving force in the boyband and one cursory Facebook post later, he was gone. “After 5 incredible years, Zayn Malik has decided to leave One Direction…” In the months following this break Malik revealed those years weren’t all that incredible. He exposed the truth behind the censorship of the band’s ability and spoke out on his unhappiness in the group; which led to even more crying. Many fans have been unable to forgive Malik for his departure, but it’s obvious Malik will never apologize for his choice.“MoM” offers a sense of closure to fans and an invitation to join him on his new journey. It’s obvious Zayn is happy, and the 1d boys are too. The world of music has changed since March 25, but there’s no reason to cry anymore over Malik; it’s all jubilance as listeners delve into “Mind of Mine”

“Pillowtalk,” the first single off the album, was released on January 29. The track itself is quite self-explanatory, Malik dives head first into this world of maturity and sexuality, and listeners are left aghast. He uses his newfound freedom to his best ability, and presents the artistry that survives in “the bed all day.” His vocals cut like glass through an intense synth beat, and the somewhat repetitive lyrics make the song unforgettable. Malik’s vocal ability cannot be contested, and the effortless blend of RnB and techno are unlike anything he’s ever released. He croons, “It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone,” and listeners cannot help but feel at ease. The track may be littered with mature/explicit language, but it managed to debut at Number One on the Billboard Hot 100 (25 songs have done so in the past). According to Billboard, “Pillowtalk also opens atop the Digital Songs and Streaming Songs charts, with 267,000 first-week U.S. downloads sold and 22.3 million U.S. streams.”

“Intermission: Flower” is definitely one of the best tracks off of the album, and it’s not even in English. Malik recounts a tale of unrequited love entirely in Urdu, “Until the flower of this love has blossomed, this heart won’t be at peace. Give me your heart…” Somehow the English translation isn’t as transcendent, but he shatters the expectations of transition music in an album.  Supported only by a sitar, Malik’s vocals carry the track to another level.

“She”  is one of the more fast-tempo tracks of the album. Malik combines RnB and dance perfectly, and leaves listeners bopping their heads. The track isn’t meant to be emotional or open to interpretation, he sings about a back and forth romance. A sort of, ‘should I stay or should I go,’ situation with a girl who, “wants somebody to love, to hold her. She wants somebody to love, in the right way. She wants somebody to love, to kiss her.” The track isn’t innovative lyrically, but the laid back vibe of the song invites listeners to let loose and dance.

“Bordersz” is a soulful, sultry track about intimacy in a relationship. Malik asks his partner to, “break down all of our walls.” He confronts the boundaries and insecurities in their relationship and says, “right now I wanna see it all. I don’t wanna cool off, so let’s cross the lines we lost.” He serenades listeners with his soothing voice demands, “all of you.” (Hopefully consensual)

“Fool For You,” starts as a soft, silky piano ballad and transforms into a full fledged power ballad backed by powerful guitar chords. Malik stuns listeners with his vocal range, the track is overwhelmed with riffs.  Every lyric has a stunning vibrato and it’s obvious that Malik will never hold back again. He belts, “Cause I’m a fool for you and the things you do. I’m a fool for you and the things, the things you do,” and there’s nothing left to do but sway alongside his harmonious voice.

“Befour” is one of the more easy-going tracks of the album. The mid-tempo, percussive track addresses the hate towards Malik. Electronic, drum music floods the track as he claims, “So say what you wanna say, what you want, shame is you won’t say that to my face.” He understands the consequences of leaving One Direction, but refuses to apologize for it. He is no stranger to the world of music and public scrutiny but for the first time in his life he is allowed to be unapologetically himself.

Some say his abrasive nature is off-putting. Malik rushes into this sense of maturity and sophistication. He incorporates sex and obscene language into his music without blinking an eye. For those who know him as the quiet, shy boy from One Direction, this bad-boy, uncensored Malik is a little overwhelming. (According to my mother, a diehard Malik supporter, “the cursing and F-bombs are just too much.” He seems desperate to do whatever’s possible to get away from the “boyband” image.)

Yet behind this “badboy” persona and inappropriate language, Malik’s talent still shines through. There is no arguing Zayn Malik has one of the most unique, well-rounded voices of this generation. From the momentous crescendos in “Wrong” to the impressive ragas (a type of riff/vibrato specific to South Asian music) in “It’s You,” Malik exceeds expectation for “Mind of Mine”. He has a long way to go to rebrand himself away from “that kid who left that boyband.” If that means cursing or singing about sex, (probably every song on the radio) it’s a small price to pay to be able to see Malik reach his true potential.

Zayn Malik may no longer be part of One Direction, but his career is headed in the right one.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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