It’s only been about four months since One Direction defector Zayn Malik released his debut album as a solo artist, and already he’s back with new music. On Mind of Mine, Malik made sure we knew he is a sexually active dude, referencing his tempestuous love life on a healthy portion of the album’s 18 slow burning, R&B-leaning tracks. Even with all the commotion surrounding Malik’s official debut in March, his pop star appeal promptly fizzled out due to a lackluster album. Today Malik asks “Hey, remember me?” with two new singles.
One of the new tracks, “Cruel,” is a collaboration with British electronic duo Snakehips that finds Malik playing up his assets as he croons about a girl whose beauty is enough to distract him from the cruelty of the world. Snakehips, known for their gentler and groovy production, take a more bombastic approach on “Cruel,” opting for louder and energizing techniques that match Malik’s impassioned vocals.
Malik should have stopped there, but he went ahead and recorded a song for the new Ghostbusters movie called “wHo.” You’ll notice that Malik was allowed to keep the random capitalization shtick, which created a strange distraction from the music on his debut album. I can just see it now — “Yeah, I’ll make a sappy love song for this movie but only do it if I can keep the capital ‘H’ and the lowercase ‘w’ and ‘o’.” Whatever you need, Zayn. Whatever you need.
“wHo” is actually a pretty good song — it’s immediately catchy and highlights Malik’s powerful voice and appetite for heartbreaking ethos. It could have easily replaced one of the many songs that didn’t need to be on his debut album, but in the context of Ghostbusters, it’s undeniably lame. The song’s repetition of “Who you gonna call?” is perhaps romantic until you make the connection to the jovial Ghostbusters theme song and realize the spirit of “wHo” could not be more estranged from ghost hunting. Although I haven’t seen the movie yet, it’s difficult to imagine at what point in the movie this song fits. Are people falling in love in the new Ghostbusters movie? Malik seems to think so.