It’s Anti week. Rihanna’s new album is here, surrounded by leaks and drama.
Zayn, one of my favourites from 2015, is also making news in advance of his highly anticipated first solo single, Pillowtalk. Since leaving 1D, he hasn’t been shy about talking – about weed, about leaving a boy band, about his image, about breaking off his engagement to Perrie, about telling Calvin Harris to f-ck off. And Naughty Boy. And Louis Tomlinson.
Zayn LOVES to dish. That’s what makes him one of my favourites. And that’s why it came as a surprise when he cancelled his first television appearance on The Graham Norton Show due to a “scheduling conflict". I immediately thought it was a strange move, considering that it would be a major promotional opportunity for his single. ANTI is what everyone is talking about (because she’s earned it 100 times over – Rihanna is a pop/dance/hip hop/R&B superstar), so Zayn needs to make some space. Was he being shy? Difficult? Petulant? Because when you want to make a splash, promoting isn’t a conflict in the schedule, it is the schedule.
Turns out it may be more of an exclusivity thing, as he later posted a photo with Zane Lowe from Apple Music’s Beats 1. The interview acknowledges that it’s Zayn’s first time speaking on camera. (Graham Norton was his only scheduled TV interview.)
I’m not going to argue the merits of traditional TV versus Apple Music when it comes to promoting a new single – maybe Zayn and his team felt that going online, where his fans live, would be the smarter move. Great, fine. It’s not the strategy that’s the problem, it’s the execution.
Cancelling on a talk show so publicly is some Mickey Mouse sh-t. It shows disorganization – who is making these decisions? If it is Zayn – because isn’t that why he wanted out of 1D, to leave behind the machine and be his own man? – then he needs to get his sh-t together. Leaving people hanging, particularly when you are trying to prove your mettle, is not a good look.
Zayn has always come across as brooding and shy, but said that was a construct of the boy band image he wanted to get away from. But now he doesn’t have four other guys to go on The Today Show with and answer questions for him. No one to drag him down, but no one to raise him up either.
At this moment, Zayn is getting what he’s asked for – complete social, artistic and promotional freedom. If this is how he behaves when he’s setting his own boundaries, what’s going to happen if his solo career takes off and he’s saddled with responsibilities again? If he’s canceling on his one and only TV appearance, what will happen when his schedule is back-to-back with Ellen and Fallon and Seacrest? Spots many people would kill for and Zayn just has to show up for.
Taylor, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake – they don’t play like this. They show up. You know who cancels on sh-t? The Lindsay Lohans of the world. (Yes I know Biebs canceled on Colbert, but he was doing a ton of promo and went on an apology tour for his album, so it wasn’t an issue.) Canceling on an exclusive talk show appearance a couple of days before a make-or-break moment shows disorganization, at best. Can Zayn post a selfie and make it up to his rabid fans? Yes, of course. But the whole point of going solo is that he wants new fans, more fans, a larger variety of fans. That’s why he was going on The Graham Norton Show.
He’s young, he’s hot, he’s famous. He probably can’t even imagine what it’s like to not have people return his calls or jump to interview him. Ask Lindsay Lohan how that worked out.