Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Music & Theatre
18 March 2016updated 27 Jul 2021 7:18am

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.

By Anna Leszkiewicz

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.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

“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”

Content from our partners
Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis
Data on cloud will change the way you interact with the government
Defining a Kodak culture for the future

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…”