Tracks of 2016: #11 ZAYN


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“Green Man” by Mark Owen. Remember it? Of course you don’t. Nobody does. I doubt Mark does (if the “green” in the title means what it likely did, check the art work.)

Not long after the slow release/rapid collapse of Take That, “Green Man” sneaked out like a fart in a church, the first full album of a former member which didn’t ostensibly represent a full-on peroxide hair dye pill-chomping breakdown. That we know about. By most measures and considerations, Owen’s stepping away from boyband unity to mucky-haired indie boy was a disaster of epic proportions: those who were convinced that the lad had musical chops on the basis of “Clementine” soon found themselves knee high in festival mud and new-age whimsy. It’s not always sensible to leave the comfort of manufactured pop *and* reinvent your output all in one go.

Fast forward to 2016, slap bang in the middle of the immediate post-Bowie aftermath indeed, and reinvention was clearly the topic du jour. Enter stage left Zayn Malik. Sorry. I mean Zayn. Sorry again: ZAYN. Capitals. Important business. Significant. Goes well with a hashtag and sans serif fonts.

ZAYN took an almighty dump on just about every element of his boyband life in the moments between leaving and releasing “Pillowtalk”. Shit dumping on this scale would usually require an expert in colonoscopy. Achingly cool to the point of parody (HE SWEARS IN SONGS NOW! HE SAYS SWEAR WORDS!) this would have been the start of something quite significant (HE SINGS IN URDU ON THE ALBUM! WITH A THICK BRADFORDIAN ACCENT! TAKE THAT BREXIT!) were it not for commercial radio to take one collective listen to the follow up single and go “…..nah, not for us.”