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Room Under The Stairs: Are we facing a new beginning for Zayn Malik?

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Among the series of releases in May, Zayn Malik marks his return with the album Room Under The Stairs! In addition to a somewhat significant change in musical style, the singer also changed his method of promotion and even opened up to new means of interacting with the public in this new era!

It can be said that Zayn, without a doubt, marked a generation with his departure from one of the biggest boy bands in the industry, One Direction. After a sudden and completely unexpected departure, he became a very reserved artist and recluse from the spotlight, distancing himself greatly from mentions of the band and his former bandmates. Even with the hits he achieved at the beginning of his solo career, successful feats with artists like Sia and Taylor Swift, and the hype of being the first member to leave the band, Zayn developed some trauma due to Oned’s heavy work routine, and anxiety attacks that separated him from the mainstream media, which mainly prevented him from returning to the stage.

And then comes the first big change for the singer’s fourth studio album: his desire to perform again! To the delight of his fans, Zayn said in an interview with Call Her Daddy: “I’m still nervous because it’s been a few years since I’ve been on stage, but I also have this energy, like I have something to offer and I want to get on stage. Being there and feeling it.”

The singer also faced difficulties when deciding to give interviews after six years, talking about his private life and his relationship with his daughter. The most surprising thing was that he presented a positive vision of the band’s time with a more mature look – can we start dreaming about the comeback?

Solo career

Zayn began his solo career in 2016 with a style far removed from his work in the band, with a sound completely focused on R&B and sensual lyrics. Now, the singer returns intending to transmit more personal and vulnerable songs, in addition to not focusing his songs so much on the musical genre he started with. “I think the intention behind this album is for the listener to gain more insight into me personally as a human being – my ambitions, my fears, and for them to have a connection to that,” Malik points out.

And he opened up. The album’s lyrics convey enormous melancholy and he begins to address issues that go beyond those portrayed in his previous works. The most beautiful theme of the album is his love for his daughter with model Gigi Hadid, Khai, a person who seems to inspire him deeply. In pre-release interviews, Zayn spoke a lot about the love he feels for the child, including that she is the reason he returned to giving interviews. “Since my daughter was born, the most important thing in my mind is trying to be a good example for her, and that’s why I’m doing this interview. I used to have a lot of anxiety about conversations like this, but I want her to look at me and realize that I’m succeeding”, said the artist.

The song “Grateful” is the first that seems to have the little girl as its muse, and it is a beautiful statement that says: 

“I see your mother’s shine in your eye  

I know that you’re mine and I’m cryin’ 

Tellin’ you the things that are on my mind  

When I think of you  

Yeah, I’m grateful for you

And apparently, that wasn’t the only song Gigi was indirectly mentioned. In “Shoot At Will”, a song with a very country influence and lyrics that are more interesting than the melodic construction, Malik talks about a dream that went wrong, specifically about a relationship with someone, which ended with him trying to drown his sorrows in some bar. Again she talks about Khai’s similarity in appearance to her, and asks: “do you also see me when you look at her?”

“When I look at her, all I see is you

When you look at her, do you see me too?

Does it not occur to you?

Do you not prefer the truth?

I was in love with you”


The first single released on March 15th was the song “What I Am”, which has sad and very vulnerable lyrics. It is one of several songs on the album that address alcohol as an escape from reality and illustrates a person who has difficulty opening up and having sincere conversations, but who asks to be loved the way he is.

“I’ve been drinking absinthe

I just did the math, it ain’t adding up

I’ve had enough of running ’round this borin’ game

You can know your own name, I won’t give it up”

This song is light years more interesting than the second, “Alienated”, which is repetitive in terms of composition and becomes boring after the first minute. At least the song served to set the tone of the project, as it was the first to be written on the album and gave the project a country-rock rhythm that intertwines with the R&B already known to the Brit’s listeners.

One, two, three, go

The track that opens the album, “Dreamin”, brings jazz influences that combine with Malik’s drawling voice in a blues style, bringing a lot of quality in terms of production. A track that explores a genre that is further away from Zayn’s solo career is “Stardust”. A soft pop with an accentuated guitar bridge, it’s the type of song that could go along with a trend on TikTok and has the potential to become the most commercial on the album.

The work as a whole has a very melancholic, solitary perspective, even with moments of redemption and opening new paths. Songs like “Birds On A Cloud”, a dance cry as the singer begs for one day of happiness for his partner; “Gates Of Hell”, an instrumental with only acoustic guitar and lyrics full of bitterness – “I don’t like you very much/ But I keep putting up with your shit” -; “Fuchsia Sea” has an opening that recalls the singer’s work on Mind Of Mine, but lyrics that reveal the tiredness of a toxic relationship – “How can you break when you’re broken, to begin with?/ I can’t see it with you, I can’t live with you” -; And “Concrete Kiss”, in which the composer seems to have gotten used to the pain, and tries to alleviate it while affirming that everything is fine – “Beginnings have a habit of endin’ / Purgatory, I’m stuck here in misery / This might doesn’t sound right, but it’s alright, it’s real.”

A negative point of the album, in general, is the lack of really striking songs, which make the listener want to listen in a loop, or lyrics that bring many points to analyze and identify with in a personal way. Some highlights of the album come, for example, in the production of “Something In The Water”, in which Zayn finds a fine line between all the styles he worked on the album. “My Woman” is a song that has exceptional vocal use and a strong chorus that goes along with the song’s instrumental. When he talked about creating a rawer album, he probably thought of the song “How It Feels”, and what weighs on the song is precisely the singer’s faithful interpretation. “False Starts” is the true peak, the discreet production combines Zayn’s voice with techniques very inclined towards his famous falsettos, not to mention the lyrics that are divided into pain for the end of a cycle with the agitation and the need for a fresh start.


It is very interesting that Malik is providing an opportunity for closer interactions with his audience in this new era and is moving into segments that go beyond his well-known R&B. The album as a whole can become boring due to the melodic set and position of the songs on the tracklist, but it feels more like the timid beginning of truly promising future works. It’s not the singer’s best project, but it marks the beginning of new work that could reintroduce Zayn Malik to the mainstream media.

The article above was edited by Isabelle Bignardi. Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus Cásper Líbero home page for more! 

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