Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Ryan Frost
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Ryan Frost
Member of One Direction, Mind of Mine album, "Pillowtalk"
Currently Known For:
Singer and Songwriter
January 12, 1993
Member of One Direction, Mind of Mine album, "Pillowtalk"
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“We go through experiences, so we have memories and we have stories and things to write down and, you know, contemplate and think about. You get to really put your experience into something that’s going to be remembered forever.” Zayn Malik’s rise to stardom as an R&B and pop singer is incredibly unique after he first auditioned for the British series, The X Factor, at only 17 years old. Although he was eliminated from the competition as a solo performer, he was invited back to start a boy band with four of his fellow contestants on the series—a band that would soon rise to international stardom as One Direction. Spending five years with One Direction, Zayn has since launched his solo career in a move that’s turned heads thanks to his hit single, “Pillowtalk” and his debut studio album, Mind of Mine.
Hailing from Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, Zain Javadd “Zayn” Malik was born on January 12, 1993 to an Englishwoman named Tricia Brannan and her husband, a British Pakistani named Yaser Malik. Raised in a working-class Muslim family alongside his three sisters, Zayn started taking great pride in his appearance after he moved schools at the age of 12. By the time he reached his teens and attended Tong High School in Bradford, he discovered his passion for the performing arts and started taking part in school productions. In his spare time, he studied his father’s diverse record collection and learned everything he could about R&B, reggae, and hip hop. Before long, he started writing his own rap songs at school and made his stage debut when singer Jay Sean visited his high school.
Despite his passion for music and performing, Zayn never envisioned that he could build a career on stage and, instead, set his sights on a safer alternative—becoming an English teacher. However, in 2010, his dreams came full circle when he caught the break of a lifetime and saw a flyer for open auditions in Manchester for the seventh season of the popular British reality series, The X Factor. The 17-year-old Zayn confidently auditioned singing Mario’s “Let Me Love You” and earned his spot in the next round, returning week after week until he was eliminated prior to the final round. Luckily, Zayn was already a fan favorite and had made a lasting impression on judges Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell who had big plans in store for the young artist.
Cowell and Scherzinger invited Zayn and fellow competitors—Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson—back to the series to compete as a boy band known as One Direction. The X Factor not only put One Direction on the map but skyrocketed Zayn and his bandmates to stardom as they signed a record deal with Syco Records and later with North America’s Columbia Records. Fueled by social media and millions of adoring tween fans, One Direction released their debut studio album—Up All Night—in November 2011 and found international success with singles like “What Makes You Beautiful,” “Gotta Be You,” and “One Thing.”
From One Direction to a Chart-Topping Solo Artist
As One Direction followed up with their second, third, and fourth studio albums—Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, and Four, respectively—the band was at the height of stardom when Zayn stepped away from the group in March 2015. At the time, he signed off from the band’s On the Road Again Tour for six days due to stress and then made the announcement that he wanted to “live as a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.”
Despite his intentions to slow down, Zayn used the break from One Direction to launch his solo career and released his debut solo album, Mind of Mine, with RCA Records in 2016. The album debuted at the top spot in several countries including the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Sweden, Norway, and Australia with his debut lead single, “Pillowtalk” also ranking in the top spot on the US Billboard Hot 100 and UK Singles charts. The feat was certainly something to talk about since no other British singer has had a top-ranking debut single in the United States. For Zayn, it was simply about doing his own music on his own terms.
“The thing for me on the first album, I wanted that to stand alone as a body of work that I’d put together,” he said. “Before that, I’d put records out with four other guys for five years, and I wanted to do stuff that was solely me. I focused solely on the stuff I wanted to do and put some songwriter stuff on there…”
Even with his success, the “Bradford Bad Boy” did very little to promote the album aside from a few performances on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and at the 3rd iHeartRadio Music Awards. “To be honest, I don’t really want to do shitloads of promotion,” he said during a recent interview. “I’ll do the music interviews and stuff like that, that actually have something to do with what I’m doing. But, a lot of public interviews and being on TV, to me, is more about being a social character, about being a—what’s the word for it, when people are on TV but don’t do anything? Reality TV stars? I don’t buy into that side of things. I just want to do my music. If people hear about me from their friend, it’s cooler than me being in their face all the time.”
By the end of 2016, Zayn was full of surprises when he collaborated with Taylor Swift on “I Don't Wanna Live Forever” for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. Although he received some backlash about collaborating with Swift, he refused to give into the rumors and remained happy with the project. “When it comes to anything that has to do with trivia about people’s personal lives or things that’s going on in their careers, I don't necessarily pay too much attention,” he said when asked about working with Swift. “I don’t pay too much attention to what people even say about me. I just tend to take it for what it is when I meet people in real life and have a conversation with them. If they’re cool with me, then I base my relationship on that… I rate [Taylor] as an artist. I think she’s cool. I think she’s successful, and I think she deserves her success because she’s worked hard. That’s just how I look at it. I did a song with her. It was fun, she was professional… I don’t have a bad word to say about her.”
The Bradford Bad Boy Today
Keeping that same laidback mentality today, the 25-year-old Zayn continues to pave his own path as he works on new material for his second studio album, Dusk Till Dawn. In March 2017, he surprised fans when he released the single, “Still Got Time,” in collaboration with PartyNextDoor and then took the shock factor even further when he released the music video for “Dusk Till Dawn” showing a new style to his creativity. “That video was fun for me,” he said. “It’s easy to be confident when you’re being a guy who’s such a bada—and doing crazy sh-t.” Luckily for fans, the experience was so much fun that Zayn says he hopes to do more blockbuster style videos. “I’m going to be doing a lot more than I did on the last record just ‘cause I feel more at ease, a little bit,” he says. “I’m more chill this time around… I want my fans to understand that obviously I’m appreciating everything, and I’m thankful for their support, so I’ve got to show my face otherwise they’ll think I don’t really care, which I do. I need to show my face. I’m enjoying acting, so there’s going to be more of that in the videos.”
Keeping his promise and making a cameo in the 2018 blockbuster, Ocean’s 8, Zayn’s venture onto the silver screen was somewhat overshadowed by his personal life after he announced his split with American model Gigi Hadid in March 2018 after three years of dating. Meeting on the set of Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” music video, the couple appeared together on the cover of Vogue in 2017 and even did a Versus (Versace) campaign before calling it quits. “Gigi and I had an incredibly meaningful, loving and fun relationship, and I have a huge amount of respect and adoration for Gigi as a woman and friend,” Zayn posted on his Twitter account. “She has such an incredible soul. I’m grateful to all of our fans for respecting this difficult decision and our privacy at the time. We wish this news could have come from us first. We love you all.”
Currently ranked as one of the sexiest men in the world, we can’t imagine the British heartthrob will be single for long. After all, he says, “My fans can rest assured, everything is under control.”