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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: Reflecting on Zayn, ‘Mind of Mine’ and One Direction

March 25, 2015 may be just another day in the calendar for many people. But for One Direction fans, it is much more than just another date — it’s a day that will live in infamy. For some Directioners, it’s the day after which nothing would ever be the same: the day Zayn Malik, the fifth member of the world’s greatest boy band, left their source of happiness. For others, it was the day Malik was finally free to become the normal 22-year-old he said he wanted to be.

For me, it was a day of mixed emotions. I was torn apart because my favorite boy band would never be the same again, especially since my favorite member, Zayn, left. But another part of me wanted to be happy for Malik because he was finally doing what he wanted to do. 

Despite what this day may represent to different people, the anniversary came this week, and one year after leaving One Direction, Malik — who now just goes by Zayn — released his solo debut album Mind of Mine, causing the internet and the hearts of thousands of fans, to explode once more.

I found myself scrolling through my Twitter feed on a typical Thursday night only to start seeing tweets in all caps expressing emotion over Zayn’s new album. How could I have forgotten? The U.K. is ahead of us by eight hours and, there, it was finally March 25. The album was out, and I wasn’t sure whether I should have given it a listen or continued to study for my physics exam the next day.

Inevitably, the Directioner and chronic procrastinator in me took over, and I opened Spotify, desperately untangling my earphones and shutting the world out. Zayn had already released four singles: “PILLOWTALK,” “iT’s YoU,” “LIKE I WOULD” and “BeFoUr” to give fans a preview of his personal style. No longer wanting to be associated with a stereotypical boy-band sound, Mind of Mine demonstrated Zayn’s preference for smooth R&B melodies with a solid beat, accompanied by undeniable vocals.

Listening to his first new single made me realize that there was no turning back, and this wasn’t a joke—Zayn was officially never going back to One Direction. On this night, it felt as real as ever: Zayn no longer needed One Direction. Once I got past the fact that the track list looked like an early 2000s middle schooler’s Myspace page where ThEY wOUlD TyPE liKe tHiS, I played the album.

It was amazing.

Part of me wanted to be stubborn and hurt — Zayn left the band, and I should accordingly hate his work with all my might. But another part of me was completely overwhelmed by how incredible his vocal performance was. I was completely overtaken by emotions I could not describe.

The album starts off with the song “MiNd Of MiNd (Intro),” a 57-second bit that captivated me with the line “Open up and see what’s inside of my mind.” It then transitions into his first three singles, followed by one of my personal favorites, “sHe,” and “INTERMISSION: fLoWer,” in which Zayn sings in Urdu, his father’s native language.

As I reached the final seconds of the last track, I realized that Zayn’s personal sound was nothing like One Direction’s. Using explicit content and rap verses, Zayn had identified his personal sound. It wasn’t enough to listen to the album only once — I had it playing the rest of the night, constantly finding hidden meanings to lyrics I hadn’t caught the first time around.

One line in “tRuTh” stood out: “This ain’t my scene, this wasn’t my dream, it was all yours.” One Direction was never really what Zayn wanted, and that truth finally come out in Mind of Mine, loud and clear.

I must admit, I’m happy for Zayn. I wish him the best, but I will always remain a tad bit hurt by the fact that he left the band that still means so much to me. People will always criticize the One Direction fandom for acting immaturely when Zayn left the band, but hear us out — what would you do if your favorite band was ripped apart, only to never be the same again?

I will remain a fan of both One Direction and Zayn because despite what anyone says, they really do bring me happiness. 

Follow Arlinne Rodriguez on Twitter.

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