For a group that has announced its desire to take a break, the guys of One Direction clearly want to make the most of the time left before their year-long hiatus begins early next year. For last week’s release of Made in the A.M., the massively successful boy band’s fifth studio album, and first since the departure of Zayn Malik, 1D unleashed the gale force of its fan-powered social media machine and took to the talk show circuit to prove that the love of their legion of Directioneers remains strong.
On “Ellen”, the now-quartet played the confessional game “Never Have I Ever,” reviewed clips of their biggest on-stage tumbles, and performed two songs – “Perfect” and “Drag Me Down” – on an outdoor stage to a massive crowd.
For Thursday night’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the show essentially shut down Hollywood Boulevard so that the group could perform a five-song set to another huge crowd (see news clip, above), with two – “History” and “Perfect” being broadcast nationally. The four singers also chatted with Kimmel and, in the weirdest proof yet of 1D’s social media muscle, Kimmel introduced “the newest member of the 1D family”, a Russet potato (yes, you read that right, a tuber purchased at a local market for 58 cents) which (who?) already has over 581K followers on Instagram and over 17,000 on Twitter.
While Louis Tomlinson, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Niall Horan were working the national media with their typical charm offensive, Zayn Malik made headlines in a more defensive mood, teasing his upcoming solo release with a short, noir-ish video and a cover story for Fader magazine’s Dec/Jan issue.
The photo shoot shows him dressed (partially) in leather, riding a motorcycle, shooting a crossbow and rarely smiling, while the article describes him smoking (spliffs and cigarettes) in a funky British home that sounds like bad boy paradise, with graffiti-covered old cars, an arrow-ridden target torso and a garden shed-turned-pub on the grounds.
In a conversation peppered with four-letter words, Malik distances himself from the pop that made him famous, including a few snarky remarks. “There was never any room for me to experiment creatively in the band,” he explains, describing how his best R&B-tinged vocals were recorded over and over until they were “generic as f***.”
The article and short film soundtrack hint at a more chill, electronic vibe for Malik’s solo album, with his voice (capable of a beautiful falsetto, and often described as the strongest in 1D) crooning in the manner of The Weeknd. Of his 1D catalog, he says, “As much as I was in that band, and I loved everything that we did, that’s not music that I would listen to… If I was sat at a dinner date with a girl, I would play some cool sh**, you know what I mean?”
In total, the article is a thoughtful and thorough piece about a young man at a creative crossroads, determined to prove himself a serious artist, even if it means avoiding the joyful camaraderie still displayed by his former bandmates. Maybe Malik thinks that dismissing the past is a good way to build a future but, in the words of a wiser wordsmith, he “doth protest too much, me thinks.”