Zayn Malik’s departure from boy band One Direction in March 2015 was one of the year’s largest pop culture stories, sparking more than 4,600 tweets per minute on the topic and breaking the hearts of teenage girls everywhere. Once the world recovered from the initial shock and accepted Malik’s desire to explore a solo career, it set to anxiously awaiting the release of his independent music. On Jan. 29, Malik delivered. His single “PILLOWTALK” was released with its accompanying music video, sparking yet another frenzy of Internet chaos. Now recording under the name ZAYN, the pop star used this new video to distinctly separate himself from his past as a preteen icon.
Between racy lyrics, such as “So dirty and raw / Be in the bed all day,” and clips featuring nude female models, the video is beyond anything a “Directioner” would be able to view past their underage web sensors. “PILLOWTALK” embraces the track’s raw sexuality with images of flowers blossoming in front of actresses’ most x-rated features, intimate scenes between Malik and rumored girlfriend Gigi Hadid, and 3-D outlines of female bodies pulsing toward the screen.
The sensuality of the video, however, is not its most commanding aspect. “PILLOWTALK” is crowded with visual manipulations that mimic Photoshop on a 2006 MacBook—after every few frames, the screen transforms from a kaleidoscope of Malik and his models to a color wheel of pixels dragging behind the heartthrob’s deliberately “sexy” movements. From “Greyscale” to “Night Vision,” the sheer amount of optical effects is overwhelming,not to mention the disturbing graphics of thick, colorful tears pouring from Malik and Hadid’s eyes, and clips of beautiful women screaming into the air in apparent emotional agony.
After almost a year of anticipation, ZAYN’s fans had a lot to process with the drop of the “PILLOWTALK” video. The racy visual and lyrical content made it clear that Malik wishes to be treated as an adult rather than a boy band member, yet the production of the video appeared much closer to the work of a middle school student’s first trip through iMovie. ZAYN might have bitten off too much in his first video as a solo artist. While the single is impressive, the video is debilitating.
Featured Image By RCA Records