Zain Javadd "Zayn" Malik (born 12 January 1993), who records mononymously as Zayn, is an English singer and songwriter. In 2010, Malik auditioned as a solo artist for the British reality television music competition The X Factor. After being eliminated as a solo performer, Malik was brought back into the competition, along with Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson, to form the boy band One Direction. During his time in the group, Malik and his bandmates released the albums Up All Night (2011), Take Me Home (2012), Midnight Memories (2013), and Four (2014).
In March 2015, Malik's representative announced the singer's departure from the band. Malik signed a solo recording contract with RCA Records in 2015, with his debut studio album Mind of Mine scheduled to be released on 25 March 2016. Its release was preceded by the lead single "Pillowtalk", which debuted at number one in a number of countries, including the United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, and Ireland.
Zain Javadd Malik was born on 12 January 1993 in Bradford, West Yorkshire, England, in a working class neighbourhood. His father, Yaser Malik, is British Pakistani, and his mother, Tricia Brannan Malik, is English and part Irish, and converted to Islam upon marriage. He has one older sister, Doniya, and two younger sisters, Waliyha and Safaa.
Malik grew up in East Bowling, located south of the Bradford city centre. He attended Lower Fields Primary School and Tong High School in Bradford. Malik has said that he did not fit in at his first two primary schools due to his mixed heritage of Pakistani and English. Malik has stated that he started taking pride in his appearance after moving schools at the age of twelve, and as a teenager he took performing arts courses and appeared in school productions. He sang on stage for the first time when singer Jay Sean visited his school.
In 2010, 17-year-old Malik auditioned in Manchester for the seventh series of reality-television competition The X Factor. He sang "Let Me Love You" by Mario as his audition song and was accepted into the next round. Upon auditioning for The X Factor, Malik stated that he was "looking for an experience". He was eliminated before the final round of the competition, but judges Nicole Scherzinger and Simon Cowell grouped him with fellow competitors Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson to form a new act for the remainder of the show, the boy band that would become known as One Direction. The group quickly gained popularity in the UK, finished in third place, and were subsequently signed by Cowell to a reported £2 million Syco Records record contract. They subsequently signed in North America with Columbia Records.
A book licensed by One Direction, One Direction: Forever Young (Our Official X Factor Story), released in February 2011, topped The Sunday Times' Best Seller list. The same month, the boy band performed for 500,000 people throughout the UK as part of the X Factor Live Tour. The group's debut studio album Up All Night was released in November 2011. It topped the charts in 16 countries. The lead single, "What Makes You Beautiful", was an international commercial success, reaching number one in the UK and number four in the US; it has since been certified four and six times platinum in the US and Australia, respectively. Subsequent singles, "Gotta Be You" and "One Thing", became top ten hits in the UK. The band's second studio album, Take Me Home, was released in November 2012. The record sold 540,000 copies in its first week in the US and went to number one in 35 countries. The album's lead single, "Live While We're Young", became One Direction's highest peaking song in a number of countries and recorded the highest one-week opening sales figure for a song by a non-US artist at the time.
One Direction's third studio album, 2013's Midnight Memories, was a commercial success as well. Its number one debut on Billboard 200 made One Direction the first band in history to have their first three albums all debut atop the Billboard 200. With their fourth album, 2014's Four, they extended the record to four consecutive number-one albums. As of March 2015, the band has sold 6.49 million albums and 23.7 million singles in the United States. The group has sold more than 50 million records globally. Malik quit the band on 25 March 2015, citing his desire to live as a "normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight", after signing off from the band's On the Road Again Tour for an indefinite period six days prior due to stress. He denied rumors of any rift between the members, explaining that the band had been supportive of the decision. His last public performance in the name of One Direction was On the Road Again Tour in Hong Kong on 18 March 2015 in AsiaWorld Arena.
In March 2015, Malik was seen at a London recording studio with producer Naughty Boy, leading to speculation of the pair working on music together. Following his departure from One Direction, Malik alluded to the potential of a solo career, with the release of his first solo studio album to be released under the Syco label in 2016. On 31 March 2015, Naughty Boy released on SoundCloud an early demo of Malik's song "I Won't Mind". In June 2015, British rapper Mic Righteous leaked Malik's "No Type", featuring Mic Righteous and produced by Naughty Boy, a cover version of Rae Sremmurd's hip hop song.
On 29 July 2015, Malik announced he had signed a recording deal with RCA Records. Later that year, Malik gave several interviews where he talked about his debut solo studio album and revealed part of the tracklist: "Befour", "She", "iT's YoU", "Wrong", "I Got Mine", and "My Ways". Talking with The Fader, he stated "life experiences have been the influences for the album and just stuff that I've been through, especially in the last five years". He says musically the record leans towards R&B, but will cover different music genres, with some tunes leaning more towards R&B-rock or reggae. In a conversation with Billboard, Malik's main collaborator for the album James “Malay” Ho said they have gone to unusual lengths in pursuit of inspiration during recording sessions, for one “we went camping for a week in the Angeles Forest - set up a generator and a tent so we could track in the woods." Malay is a Grammy Award winning producer, whose past work includes Frank Ocean's Channel Orange and Big Boi's Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. In his first solo on-camera interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music's Beats 1, Malik revealed Mind of Mine as the album's title. The album includes 17-18 songs written by Malik, whittled down from 46 tracks he wrote; one of the songs on the album features American R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani.
The album's lead single "Pillowtalk" was released along with its accompanying music video on 29 January 2016, described by music critics as a downtempo electronic R&B slow jam, leaning towards PBR&B, or alternative R&B. The song debuted at number one in a number of countries, including the UK Singles Chart and the US Billboard Hot 100; on the latter, it became the 25th song to debut at number one, making him the first UK artist to debut at number one on the Hot 100 with a first charted single. The single's performance propelled Zayn to number six on the Billboard Artist 100 chart. The album's second official single "Like I Would" was released on 10 March 2016, and is an electro-R&B dance track. Both "Pillowtalk" and "Like I Would" received favourable reviews from music critics.
The album Mind of Mine was made available for pre-order on 25 February 2016, along with the digital release of the promotional single "iT's YoU" and its music video, the latter as an Apple Music exclusive. The second promotional single, "BeFour", was released on 17 March 2016, and has been described as smooth R&B. Both "iT's YoU" and "BeFour" also received favourable reviews from music critics.
On 25 February 2016, "Pillowtalk (Lil Wayne Remix)" was released, featuring American rapper Lil Wayne; it is a hip hop remix that features rapping by Lil Wayne along with rapping and rap-singing by Zayn. The following day saw the release of Chris Brown's R&B song "Back to Sleep (Remix)" featuring Usher and Zayn, which had strong US sales that helped "Back to Sleep" reach number 5 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart and number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The album Mind of Mine is scheduled to be released on 25 March 2016. On the same day, Malik is expected to make an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, perform at the iHeartRadio Theater in New York City, and discuss the album with radio host Elvis Duran. The release party and show will stream across iHeartMedia contemporary hit radio and rhythmic contemporary radio stations and websites. Zayn has also been announced as a performer for the 3rd iHeartRadio Music Awards.
Malik cites urban music as his main musical influence, having grown up predominantly with R&B, hip hop, and reggae, as well as bop and Bollywood music. He was influenced by his father's urban records, including R. Kelly, Usher, Donell Jones, Prince, 2Pac, Biggie, Gregory Isaacs, and Yellowman, as well as Chris Brown. Malik originally auditioned to be a solo R&B singer, before becoming part of One Direction. His R&B singing style stood out compared to the band's pop style; he later cited creative differences as a reason for leaving the band. He was regarded as the band's strongest singer, with the widest vocal range. He has a wide tenor vocal range, and is known for his belting and falsetto singing techniques and hitting high notes with his vocals. He has worked in different music genres, with his One Direction work leaning more towards pop and rock, while his solo work leans more towards R&B and alternative R&B; he has also released an electro-R&B dance track, "Like I Would", as well as a hip hop track "Pillowtalk (Lil Wayne Remix)", where Malik is rapping and rap-singing.
Malik was known as the "Bradford Bad Boy" of One Direction, due to his mischievous behaviour, many tattoos, graffiti art, and rock star hairstyles. Since prior to X-Factor, Malik has been a fan of tattoos, saying that he likes "getting tattoos and that he loves the whole culture behind them." His first tattoo was revealed on his Twitter account. Malik got his maternal grandfather's name inked in Arabic: والتر (Walter). Since then, Malik has had several more tattoos. Discussing Malik's possible solo career after leaving the boyband, Billboard editor Joe Lynch described him as "the quiet one in the group never the one to grab the spotlight during interviews. He typically saved his words for the songs, not for media soundbytes."
In 2011, he was ranked number 27 on Glamour's "World's Sexiest Men" list. In 2014, Malik was voted British GQ's best dressed male. In 2015, he was voted the "Sexiest Male In Pop" in a poll by British radio network Capital, voted the "World's Sexiest Asian Man" in a worldwide poll by British newspaper Eastern Eye, voted second place in a poll of the "World’s top ten bachelors" by Manchester's Crown Clinic, and ranked number six on MTV's "50 sexiest men alive" list. In 2016, he was ranked number five on Glamour magazine's "100 Sexiest Men" list.
Malik dated fellow X Factor contestant Geneva Lane, former member of Belle Amie, in 2010, and then Rebecca Ferguson for four months. He dated actess Stephanie Davis for five months in 2011. He began dating Perrie Edwards of Little Mix in early 2012; they got engaged in 2013. On 4 August 2015, Malik's representative confirmed that the couple had ended their engagement. Since November 2015, he has been seen on dates with American model Gigi Hadid.
Malik is Muslim. He is an official ambassador of the British Asian Trust charity group. He speaks English and Urdu, and can read Arabic. He has received abuse in the form of anti-Muslim slurs, which led to him deleting his Twitter account in 2012. During the 2014 IDF siege on Gaza, Malik posted the message "#FreePalestine" on Twitter, resulting in him receiving angry responses and death threats. He has said that his biggest fear is water.