The demo of Zayn Malik’s first solo song - released by its producer, Naughty Boy, on Tuesday - moves him in a very different direction.
In its raw, initial form, “I Don’t Mind” is a moody, acoustic piece
that holds far more gravity, intensity, and intimacy than anything this
boy band member has ever recorded.
Malik’s vocal has a huskier texture than before, which he uses to inhabit the song with complete confidence.
Countering the dewey and sweet sound he most often used with 1D, Malik
sounds more like a dusty troubadour here. He even bares a resemblance to
esteemed neo-folk singer Damien Rice.
In his rasp, he recalls the Scottish neo-soul star Paulo Nutini.
It’s a far more promising, if inadvertent, start to Malik’s inevitable
solo career than the light-weight ditty released by Harry Styles (“Don’t
Let Me Go”) back in 2013.
In fact, Malik has always been One Direction’s strongest singer. His
solo parts have long shown more maturity than his four group-mates.
Still, “I Don’t Mind” augers well for the 22 year old to be taken
seriously by grown-up listeners, not just the teen dream set. One hopes
the official version doesn’t cover up the demo’s raw allure.