For thousands of teenage girls around the world, March 25 marked the end of a short-lived era in the reemergence of boy bands in pop music. That Wednesday, amid the peak of the Asian leg of their On the Road Again tour, One Direction officially published a statement on their Facebook page that the band would continue on as a four-member group without Zayn Malik.
Malik, One Direction, and Simon Cowell released individual statements, all citing their sadness at Malik’s departure. In his statement, Malik apologized to any fans that he let down in his decision to leave, but justified doing so because he wants “to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” In response, the remaining four members of the band published a joint statement highlighting their optimism for the future saying, “We’re really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future. The past five years have been beyond amazing, we’ve gone through so much together, so we will always be friends. The four of us will now continue. We’re looking forward to recording the new album and seeing all the fans on the next stage of the world tour.”
Since their creation and subsequent third place finish during the 2010 season of the British television singing competition The X Factor, One Direction has achieved immense global success and recognition by both fans and the music industry at large. The announcement of Malik’s exit comes as a shock to fans around the world. One Direction is also in the process of recording their fifth studio album, and will have to continue without Malik, who chose to leave despite in the midst of the album’s creation. Though many fans took the announcement in stride, news of Malik’s departure is still surrounded by mixed emotions. One Direction fans immediately took to social media to express their reactions, some going as far as to post videos and picture updates of themselves leaving class to cry.
Overcome with emotion at the loss of Malik, known within the band for his outstanding vocal range and chill-inducing falsetto, numerous fans felt Malik could have waited until the end of the tour and recording of One Direction’s fifth studio album. Others staunchly disagree. Others support Malik’s decision, saying that they want what’s best for him, firing back in Malik’s defense by stating that his unhappiness in continuing on would have revealed itself over time to the disappointment of both the band and fans alike.
Though many fans knew that the band was going to break up eventually, none had anticipated that it would be at the peak of One Direction’s fame. Others, however, allege that the signs of Malik’s leave were already present, since being plagued with scandal in previous months that caused stress for Malik, another reason he cited for his withdrawal from the band. The most recent scandal comes in the form of cheating allegations, as Malik’s official exit comes directly after accusations of unfaithfulness to his fiancé that caused the Bradford-born singer to announce a leave from touring. Initially thought to be temporary, Malik’s time off forced him to return home to supposedly handle the situation with his fiancé of nearly two years, Perrie Edwards, a member of pop girl group, Little Mix. Among these cheating rumors continuing to swirl in the tabloids, Malik and band members Louis Tomlinson and Harry Styles were reportedly seen tearing up on stage the night before the official announcement during their final show together in Jakarta, Indonesia. Some of the public response did have positive feedback for the band. In the day immediately following the news, streams of One Direction songs rose an astounding 769 percent, according to Spotify.
Many wonder how the band will cope with the sudden departure of one of their most admired members, but in One Directions’s first interview since Malik’s controversial exit, the band discussed their future plans with optimism. Speaking exclusively to British newspaper, The Sun, Tomilson stated that however difficult it has been to see Malik go, the remaining four band members are “100 percent committed to staying in 1D.” Band member Liam Payne added, “It’s been a tough few weeks, probably the toughest since the band was formed five years ago. We’re gutted that Zayn chose to leave, but now after a few performances as a four-piece, we’re feeling confident and are determined to carry on stronger than ever.”
It seems that Malik is doing well otherwise; he was seen working in London recording studios less than a week after his pop group exit with British producer Naughty Boy .Malik has made it apparent that he wants to continue a career in music, perhaps as a solo artist, much to the continued ambivalence of fans and to One Direction member, Louis Tomlinson. Earlier this week when Naughty Boy publicized a teaser demo with Malik titled “I Won’t Mind,” a brief feud on Twitter ensued between Tomlinson and the producer. The track has been removed from Soundcloud less than 12 hours after it was posted, but fans are remaining vocal with their opinion that this move was inconsiderate on both Malik and Naughty Boy’s behalves.
Though differing opinions amongst fans and those in the music industry persist over Malik’s controversial departure, we can still look forward to new music from both One Direction and Zayn Malik in 2015.
Photo Courtesy of MTV