Zayn Proves His Musical Prowess With “Pillow Talk”

Where has Zayn been? Now we know!

When Zayn Malik left One Direction on March 25th of last year, there was the typical wailing and gnashing of teeth from their fans. Screams, shrieks, tears, and “Now whats?”  reverberated through the One Direction community.

(Climb on board)
We’ll go slow and high-tempo
Light and dark
Hold me hard and mellow…

How could he? Why did he? How can they go on? How could Zayn in good conscience leave this money/hit machine? Well, if “Pillow Talk” is any indication of where Zayn is going I’d not judge him too harshly just yet. With the release of the first single, Zayn has sent a very clear message that he will go on quite nicely thank you.

Pillow talk
My enemy, my ally
Prisoners
Then we’re free, it’s a thriller

Musically and structurally, “Pillow Talk” is tight, full of powerful synths, guitars, and yes, great singing. Along with co-writers Anthony Hannides, Michael Hannides, and Levi Lennox, “Pillow Talk” is a powerhouse work that has the muscle to compete with anything else that’s out there. The song will be included on Zayn’s album Mind of Mine, due to be released on 25 March 2016. Produced by Levi Lennox and MYKL, Zayn has some big guns on his side and this will surely draw a clear line between himself and the boys he left behind. The grass can sometimes be much greener on the other side.

I’m seeing the pain (seeing the pleasure)
Nobody but you, ‘body but me, ‘body but us
Bodies together

If you need further proof that he has left his One Direction days behind, then read the lyrics. This song, is what most pop music is about: sex and relationships. Zayn hits hard with a brutally-honest description of love at it’s most bare and emotional. “It’s our paradise, it’s our war zone.” goes the mantra. Yeah, we’ve heard it all before, but not from a insanely handsome former boyband member who is out to prove his worth. Especially one who has the voice to take over the male pop crown from whoever has it now. Play your cards right Zayn and you will have it in spades.

Zayn’s Vevo Channel “Pillow Talk”.

What makes “Pillow Talk” so special is the way the harmonic structure plays with the overall tonality never quite settling into a steady tonic. The intro, with its droning E Major/F#Mazayn.jpgjor drones eventually give way to the expected, that is, the tonic of B Major, but, only for a fleeting moment. From the opening it is clear that we are in for an interesting harmonic ride as Zayn and his crew have painted a picture with music of an unsettled, almost         quarrelsome quality very much in line with the text.

So we’ll piss off the neighbours
In the place that feels the tears
The place to lose your fears
Yeah, reckless behavior
A place that is so pure, so dirty and raw

The choruses explode with powerful kicks and a power chord as big as England herself. As the chorus continues the intensity builds to, well, a climax. How could I forget the verses? Well, because the are actually quite short, which only makes “Pillow Talk” even more unique and effective. Why? Because the real star of this song is the pre-chorus with it’s tug-o-war battle against the tonic, much like the relationship Zayn describes.17b1ba10a5e55e6bb35b477df5c2abf1

War zone, war zone, war zone, war zone
Paradise, paradise, paradise, paradise
War zone, war zone, war zone, war zone

First of all, it is longer than most verses and it contains one of the most effective harmonic chordal shifts in popular music. The C# Minor to E Major to B Major changes the the second time to C# Minor/E Minor/B Major. This is place perfectly at the end of each of the two pre-choruses giving a kick to the chorus that sets the song aflame. Brilliant? No. Unusual, well no. But, it was this chordal twist of fate puts this song over the top separating Zayn not only lyrically but in the way he will deliver musical material. With this very first release, Zayn has left the sugar far behind him.

I’d love to hold you close, tonight and always
I’d love to wake up next to you
I’d love to hold you close, tonight and always
I’d love to wake up next to you…

If you are a Zayn fan, you should know that he had to do something big on this first release away from his former mates. Trite and trivial music would have ended his attempt at a solo career in an instant. This discussion then, is to show that his work can be lifted up proudly as he has shown (in a relatively short time) that he is real. Moreover, he has demonstrated that that he has musical substance, and that is more than most expected.

 

It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone…
It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone…

 

-Mark Jeffery Campayno

 

 

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