The first solo single from any of the One Direction boys stands the test of the time and remains the best. Only a few months passed in between when Zayn officially left the band that made him a star and when he released his debut song under his own name, and when he did, it made an enormous splash right out of the gate. “Pillowtalk” debuted at No. 1, and it helped his first album Mind of Mine do the same shortly thereafter. It’s sexy, bombastic, and surprisingly well done.
Part of what helped all the members of One Direction do so well as solo acts is the fact that they didn’t step on each other’s toes, at least not musically. Each of the five guys picked a different style of music, and Harry Styles went with rock. His debut album was inspired by throwback guitar tunes, and his first song on his own, “Sign of the Times,” is a grand gesture and a respectable rock track.
Liam Payne might not front this single, but he provides the vocals, and to be honest, it’s the best thing he’s done since launching his solo career. Zedd’s production wizardry does most of the heavy lifting on this party track, and while Payne’s role probably could have been filled by many other male vocalists, he’s the one they chose, and the final product is a bop.
Between the music, Sia’s soaring vocals, and the action movie-esque video that accompanied the single, “Dusk Till Dawn” is easily the most dramatic release from any of the One Directioners. Meant to resuscitate Zayn’s not-yet-released sophomore album, his latest project might not have been the smash it deserved to be, but it’s still massive.
While Zayn was busy selling sex and Harry was looking into the past for inspiration, Niall Horan picked up a guitar and decided his best chance at success was as the boy next door...and it worked. “Slow Hands” is a surprisingly sensual song from the Irish member of the group, but thanks to the acoustic strumming and his sweet delivery, he got away with some very hot lyrics.
Never released as a single, Zayn’s Mind of Mine album track “sHe” (that’s how he spells it, by the way) had the beat, the snaps, and the drop necessary to make it a hit single. But sadly, it was never given the chance. “sHe” perfectly blends pop, R&B, and even electronic elements into something unique, and it is one of many standout songs on Zayn’s 2016 LP.
The latest release from the five former boy band members, Louis Tomlinson’s “Miss You” is the first from any of them to drift into pop-punk territory. Sure, it’s tough to imagine the young dad moshing, but the track is a lot of fun. And if you can hear past the fact that Tomlinson has probably never been to a real rock show, there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Styles released this song as a promotional single just before he dropped his self-titled album, and it showed that he really was going after all things ‘70’s, from anthems to intimate, acoustic moments. The song is simple and sweet, and he pulls it off with ease, proving that in a past lifetime, maybe Styles really was a rock star.
One of the Flicker tracks that actually features a beat, album opener “On The Loose” isn’t a massive pop banger, but rather an über cool, laid-back jam. It sounds much more adult than Horan looks, but he pulls it off very well, and it’s a solid intro to his debut record.
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