One Direction surprised fans by sneaking their new single "Drag Me Down" — their first piece of new music since losing original member Zayn Malik in March — onto iTunes and Spotify early Friday morning. It's also the band's first bit of new material after Four, the album they released last November. The single is arriving two days after Malik announced that he had signed a solo deal with RCA, one that will give him the opportunity to show you who he really is.
"Drag Me Down" is a slight departure from the music the band was making with Malik in tow, which tended toward power-pop and classic rock on their later records. There's a bit of The Police in the loping, reggae-lite bass line and guitar riffs, and the song's structure is cribbed from the last few years' finest EDM-pop crossovers. This might be the closest a One Direction song comes to having a "drop." When you fold in the melody, the whole package reminds me of Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble," and that qualifies as praise in this space.
Malik's departure from the band has come with its fair share of Twitter tomfoolery and acrimony, most of it involving British producer Naughty Boy. He tweeted pictures with Malik and leaked demos of their work together just weeks after he broke off from the band. This raised the ire of current 1D member Louis Tomlinson, who dissed Naughty Boy until Malik felt compelled to directly respond:
Malik and Naughty Boy's tentative alliance didn't last long, either. Within a few months, Malik was denouncing the producer thanks to another set of leaked solo material.
Malik has yet to release an official single, but his solo record deal is on the books now — one shouldn't be far away. His former bandmates seem to be moving on just fine without him.