Source: @zaynmalik on Twitter
Coming from a world-renowned boyband, One Direction, Zayn Malik is always being closely watched by the world. His debut single, PILLOWTALK, dominated charts and proved Zayn’s capability as a solo artist in the industry.
As someone who was a fan of Zayn during his One Direction days, I felt like Nobody is Listening is not the best work coming from him, but there are songs I could definitely go back and listen to.
The album opens with an intro called “Calamity”, where he talks about his life, his newborn daughter and longtime relationship with model Gigi Hadid. Zayn does not sing in this opener; he mostly talks in a rap-like pace behind a melodic beat and I think it is the most open he has been in his music. It is more of a message, telling his fans his true feelings since being under the spotlight at a young age.
“Better” and “Vibez” are the two singles Zayn chose to release with Nobody Is Listening. Although both songs are the typical pop-R&B tracks you would hear on the radio, I can’t help but think that these are the best from the album. At first listen, it may seem bland and boring, especially after listening to previous songs from Zayn’s first album, Mind of Mine, but these songs are definitely not something you should only listen to once because the charm comes when you listen to them the second time. The catchy beat from “Vibez” and the relatable lyrics from “Better” all make the first listen worthwhile.
Usually, Zayn’s fans do not want to associate his new music with his days in One Direction. While understandable, in order for him to be recognized for his own art, I cannot help but think of One Direction as he opens the song “Outside”. The first verse reminds me of some of the band’s side tracks from their old albums but as the song progresses, it morphs into a “Zayn” type of music. It has his signature R&B slow beat with a touch of falsettos. It is a song that has more plays on the album, besides “Better” and “Vibez”, and I can definitely see why.
The rest of the songs in the album, such as “Sweat”, “When Love’s Not Around”, and “Connexion”, are ones I do not feel strongly about. I have definitely heard worse songs in my life, which is why I do not think they are terrible; but Zayn’s other songs like “I Don’t Wanna Live Forever” and “Dusk Till Dawn” make me think that he could produce something with much more life to them. I do like how one of the lines in “When Love’s Not Around”, which he sings with featuring artist Syd, follows the melody of “Foolish” by Ashanti. Another good, consistent quality in Zayn’s songs is his lyrics, which teenagers and young adults alike can easily relate to.
Until now, I cannot completely decide on what I feel about Nobody Is Listening. I have always expected something different and real from Zayn, and there is no doubt that this album was something raw for his fans. However, most of the songs feel like something you would hear on the radio and I cannot find anything that could have listeners telling it apart from other generic R&B albums.
I do still think that Zayn is a talented individual with amazing vocals and that Nobody Is Listening is only a step into what he is capable of and who he is as an artist.