Zayn Malik’s new song BeFoUr and the dissolution of One Direction

Zayn’s new song discusses his decision to leave the boyband that found him fame.

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As the Zaynaissance continues, and the release of his first solo record Mind of Mine on 25 March grows ever closer, Zayn Malik has dropped another single from the upcoming record: “BeFoUr”.

It’s probably the most tightly-constructed and slickly-produced of any of his releases yet, the most R&B-influenced, and contains one of Zayn’s most popular hallmarks from his One Direction days: one long and impossibly high note. (Flashing liiiiiiiights!).

Lyrically, “BeFoUr” has been highly anticipated: the title’s spelling caused many fans to assume that the song would be about Zayn’s decision to leave One Direction. (Be four, as in, “Go on, be a four-piece, I’m outta here!”).

That’s definitely the case: the song begins with Zayn crooning “I’ve done this before,” but “not like this”. “If there’s something I want,” he continues, “I take all the right wrongs.” Fans and bandmates may have felt wronged by his departure, but it was for the right reasons.

“I’m gonna stay in my zone
“I’m tired of picking that bone
“And I can’t be bothered to fight it no more”

He’s taking the high road of a) following his dreams and b) staying firmly in his zone. Is this his creative zone? His metaphorical lane (no shade)? One thing we all know with this guy is that it certainly won’t be his comfort zone, am I right? Anyway, he’s also not picking bones (with Louis et al), or fighting “it” (his solo creative genius?!) anymore. Good on him.

If this seemed far too veiled to be conclusively anything to do with One Direction, then wait for the chorus, my friends:

So say what you wanna say
What you gotta say now
So say what you wanna say
What you want
Shame is you won’t say that to my face now”

Yes, this could be the classic song against the haters/music critics, a la Taylor Swift’s Mean and Shake it Off. But to me, the line “Shame is you won’t say that to my face” seems pointed, since despite multiple comments from Zayn and One Direction touching on the subject in the press, both sides have confirmed that theyre no longer in contact.

Zayn continues to hint at his unhappiness in the band in the second verse, insisting it was “Time for me to move on,” and that, now, there are “No strings for you to pull on.” He’s nobody’s puppet now, okay?! Plus, the bridge talks about setting things on fire (burning bridges, anyone?!) In any case, this is probably the closest well get to a diss track from Zayn, so lets just be sure to enjoy what weve been given.

Fortunately, this is his best song yet. Ill take that as some small comfort as I weep into my 2012 One Direction collages, whispering “back when we were all happy...”

Anna Leszkiewicz is the New Statesman's deputy culture editor.