February 1, 2016

Let’s talk about sex – specifically, how prevalent it is in Zayn’s new video “PILLOWTALK”, which made its grand debut four days ago. As his first single after his departure from One Direction, it’s no surprise that “PILLOWTALK” pretty much broke the Internet. A closer look at the lyrics reveals the usual dark, aggressive romance as in most R&B tunes, but, naturally, it’s the video that’s got us hooked.

It’s trippy, experimental, and features just the right amount of nubile, naked bodies gyrating sensuously to make an artistic statement without being pornographic. But perhaps what’s most satisfying about the video is that it’s premised on the knowledge that it’s a new solo artist’s attempt to break free from mass music, shaped entirely by having to previously exist within his alma mater’s bubblegum brand of pop music.

Mind of Mine, Zayn’s debut solo album, couldn’t be more explicitly named. Kaleidoscopic Gigi Hadids aside, the “PILLOWTALK” video is Zayn’s strategic invite into what he wants his music, and his image, to be – bold, matured, and fiercely uncensored. The themes of sexuality aren’t there to be provocative. Sure, sex sells, but instead of using naked bodies as click bait, the ex-boybander harnesses it to announce his new personal branding in a way that’s both classy, and memorable (seriously though, how can one not remember the flowering genitalia?)

So, the first step in his dramatic career move involves dropping his last name, which we all know signals greatness – or an attempt at it. The next involves releasing Mind of Mine on the one-year anniversary of him leaving the band. Oh yes, you read that right. It’s not so much an act of rebellion as it is an ingenious PR move – livid Directioners are bound to remember it, and new listeners will give him credit for having a sardonic sense of humour. In any case, it’s a statement, and while we’re not expecting a Timberlake any time soon, it’s safe to say we’re officially curious.

March 25, people; mark the date.