Welcome to the Glory Days, where Little Mix are entering into the new era of their fourth album (out on Friday... woo!) and using former lovers as musical inspiration. With the release of "Shout Out to My Ex" in October, the British singers were making jabs at their exes and coming out on top. And for those who followed the romance of member Perrie Edwards and former One Direction singer Zayn Malik since the beginning, the song came full circle.
Zayn and Perrie (lovingly nicknamed Zerrie) met in 2011 when One Direction performed on the U.K.'s X Factor, the show that Little Mix won that year. Zayn proposed in 2013, and all seemed well. He got a tattoo of Perrie and bought her mom a house. They moved in together and adopted a puppy. But while on tour with 1D in 2015, he was spotted with a mystery girl, causing cheating rumors to fly. He jetted back to Perrie and quit the band. Five months later, Zayn had signed a solo record deal and broke up with Edwards. Two months later he was dating supermodel Gigi Hadid.
I'm 22 years old... I love a girl named Perrie Edwards. And there's a lot of jealous fucks in this world I'm sorry for what it looks like x— zayn (@zaynmalik) March 18, 2015
Since then, Malik released Mind of Mine, an album flecked with personal recollections of his relationship. So it only makes sense that Edwards gets to tell her side now, right?
That's where fans of both Zayn and Little Mix are torn. Should they be pressured to take a side? Should they support one or the other? Are their favorite singers being petty?
We checked in with four fans to see what life on the internet is like for a Zerrie fan in 2016, long after Zerrie continued to be. Click through the slides to get their stories.
Best Part of Being a Fan of Both: "The best part of being a fan of both is definitely the music. Mind of Mine was on repeat in my car for months, and I know Glory Days will be the same way. I enjoy riding the roller coaster of their careers through the good, the bad, the ugly, and the uglier. It's truly never dull!"
Worst Part of Being a Fan of Both: "For me, the worst part of being a fan is the constant feeling of guilt. I feel guilty for liking both! I love Perrie. I love Zayn. I think it's important for me to acknowledge that Zayn hasn't made the best decisions and he is far from perfect. Perrie is an amazing and strong woman, and I admire her so much. While it's hard to do, I try not to let my personal feelings interfere too much and focus on the music. P.S. Buy Glory Days November 18th!"
Best Part of Being a Fan of Both: "Besides being blessed with bop after bop from LM and Zayn, the best part of being a fan of both artists is that it’s a weird kind of catharsis. I feel like I lived through their breakup vicariously. It continues to be a hot topic in several of my group chats. We get all the 'benefits' of dealing with drama—hot gossip, mainly—without any of the real emotional consequences. (Important to note that I realize that reveling in a stranger’s emotional trauma makes me a garbage human, but aren’t we all a little garbage at our core?). But truly deep down, the main benefit is just really great music. I love them both as artists."
Worst Part of Being a Fan of Both: "With Zayn and Perrie (and by extension, Little Mix), it's hard to know where you land when they’re taking very public shots at each other. In March, when Zayn was on his 'I love and respect Perrie' press tour for Mind of Mine, I thought, 'Wow, can you believe that this tiny boy is still trying to be a gentleman even though it didn’t work out?' (Never mind that he wrote a song about having sex with his fiancé Perrie Edwards, then dumped her and cast his new girlfriend supermodel GIGI HADID to make out with him for the video.)
But then I couldn’t really forgive him because my girl Pez is out here crying on stage singing 'The End' at a fan event. But then Little Mix releases 'Shout Out to My Ex' which 1) I really don’t love tbh and 2) is a very transparent grab for headlines and makes pointed jabs at Zayn ('four years,' 'tattoos,' 'some other chick'). I think that it’s kind of a potshot but at the same time I’m still here for Pettie Edwards? Like if my fiancé dumped me via text, I would want people to cut me some slack if I wrote a diss track about how bad he is in the sack. But also, I kind of want her to take the high road and just write it off as an experience and be a Professional™. Which is maybe unfair to ask of her, because I understand that feeding the tabloids is a big part of selling records. But it also feels a little like kicking Zayn when he’s down? Considering he’s cancelled appearances because of his anxiety, he’s probably not in the best place and I can’t imagine this is helping. But also, maybe he deserves it? Because he sounds like he was kind of a dick to her?"
— Kate (@k8mcgarry)
Best Part of Being a Fan of Both: "Both of these artists make me feel a passion for the music they create. I’m not musically talented myself, but have always enjoyed the music that both Little Mix and One Direction have put out since their formation. Having followed both Perrie and Zayn since their early days, the most satisfying thing has been able to see their personal growth. While I’m sad my two faves weren’t the perfect match, I’ve never been a huge fan of celebrity news anyways. I’m just happy that they are both flourishing on their current projects ('Shout Out to My Ex' was glorious, sing it girl!) And while I may not care for Gigi Hadid, my heart is happy for Zayn’s success in his first solo album, autobiography, and personal development through anxiety and eating disorder."
Worst Part About Being a Fan of Both: "I feel like I have to pick loyalty to one artist. It’s like when two of your best friends date, and the whole time you try to maintain a healthy neutrality, but when it’s all said and done, you have to pick a side. On one hand, I feel like I relate to what Perrie must be going through more, but then again, we’ll never really know what happened between the two of them, so I’ll just keep supporting both."
—@tayloredtweets, who adds:
"This video that just encompasses every emotion we could have felt when 'Shout Out to My Ex' dropped":
The Best Part of Being A Fan of Both: "I think Zayn and Perrie are two of the best voices in pop music right now especially when it comes to live performance. They were kind of this generation of pop's Justin and Britney. They were great together (I feel like 15 years from now we’ll talking about that photo of the two of them in black evening wear at the This Is Us premiere, as much as we talk about that photo of Justin and Britney in the head-to-toe denim outfits, today) and they’ll be great apart. Also they’ve both taken the experience of this very public breakup and made great music, there are a lot of lyrics from Mind Of Mine that reference Perrie, and ‘Shout Out to My Ex’ is Perrie/Little Mix’s ‘Cry Me a River’ and I can’t wait to hear the rest of Glory Days."
The Worst Part of Being A Fan of Both: "The worst part, is that right now, it kind of feels like we’re a fandom of divorce. Mom and dad broke up, mom got primary custody, and I see dad and his new girlfriend on the weekends. I’m very much on #TeamPerrie when it comes to the breakup, the 1D fandom are super sleuths and there were rumblings of Zayn cheating on her with multiple girls for over a year before they broke up, and then he ended it over text message. One of the reasons I love Little Mix so much is because of their friendship, and that they remind me of my friends and I. So I’m protective of Perrie much in the same way I’d be protective if the same thing had happened to one of my friends. But I do still love Zayn, his music with 1D and his new album, and I’m excited to see what happens next. But being a fan of both is difficult, because very quickly after this breakup everyone seemed to pick a side, so it’s not fun to engage on Tumblr anymore when there is frequent fighting (especially with the release of 'SOTME') about Perrie and Zayn, most people saying that Perrie and Little Mix would be nothing without Zayn, and the publicity from Zayn and Perrie’s relationship is what made them popular, and not their incredible talent. This is something I 100 percent disagree with and it infuriates me to see these opinions, especially coming from fellow young women. Perrie is SO much more than Zayn’s ex-fiancé, and she should not be reduced to that."
—Bri Mattia (@brimattia)