Zayn Malik’s Best One Direction Moments
We're still working through the fact that Zayn Malik pulled a Geri Halliwell and left One Direction earlier today (March 25), but rather than focus on our more easily accessible, surface-level feelings (anger, hurt, sadness, anger, betrayal, anger, rage) we're trying to see through to the positive. We decided to take a look back at some of our favorite Zayn-centric moments from his all-too-brief stint with the band, because if we don't keep it cute we might light something on fire just to feel feelings again.
From his modest beginnings as an X Factor contestant with subtle star potential to his dweeby home videos and all the way up to his Mariah-style live performances with One Direction, every facet of Zayn (not to mention his otherworldly good looks) will be sorely missed. Read on.
That time Zayn auditioned for 'X Factor.'
Let's be real -- there's nothing too impressive about this baby-faced possum murmuring his worst through a Mario song. From his ill-fitting jeans to the most tragic t-shirt/blazer combination we've seen since Ryan Seacrest's early days on American Idol, this iteration of Zayn is so far removed from the style icon he grew to become in later years. But he manages to impress the judges somehow, marking the beginning of a five-year-long journey that will have us all in tears by its end. Because he quit the band in the middle of their world tour. Today.
That time Zayn refused to dance.
One of the most memorable boyband moments in history is the time Zayn was almost kicked off X Factor because he didn't want to embarrass himself -- the way Liam and Harry did -- by dancing like no one was watching. He couldn't get the choreography down, so he didn't show up and hoped no one would notice his absence.
He made a valiant effort to disappear, but it didn't work because X Factor is a television show and he talked about it backstage with a crew member on camera. Simon Cowell eventually convinced Zayn to give it a try. He did and it was bad, but it was something. The best part of all this? That single moment provided One Direction fans with the most oft-muttered, Zayn-centric inside joke of all time:
Now it looks like we'll never really know the answer to that question.
The time Zayn covered Taylor Swift.
Do you guys remember when Zayn covered Taylor Swift's "You Belong With Me" in his bedroom at home? He changed the lyrics to "Cause he wears Ray-Bans / I wear glasses / He wears sweats and / I wear chinos." The best part of the video is when someone walks into Zayn's room and he puts his hand up to silence them, all the while singing loud and singing proud. Because in that moment, a 90-second cover of a modified Taylor Swift song was the most important thing in the world.
That time Zayn and his friends filmed the "Asian Persuasion" video.
If you weren't endeared to Zayn before his friend, Danny, uploaded the above video to Facebook, you definitely were after you watched it -- unless you are a member of the Wanted. Recorded while One Direction were on a break, Zayn and his buddies, Danny and Ant Riach, filmed themselves lip syncing, dancing and eating string cheese in time to Usher's "That's What It's Made For." Because during his time off from being in the world's biggest boyband, Zayn liked to pretend he was in a boyband.
That time he held that "Tell Me a Lie" note.
The first of many legendary high notes from Zayn came toward the end of the Kelly Clarkson-penned "Tell Me a Lie." Fans looked forward to that moment for the entirety of the Up All Night tour, until the song was unjustly retired and never heard live again. It was, however, the pinnacle of Zayn's vocal prowess at the time. He somehow only managed to improve.
That time he was DJ Malik.
During One Direction's first headlining tour, Zayn took on the moniker of DJ Malik. While they were changing the set by moving a giant red couch on or off stage, Zayn stood behind a makeshift DJ booth and jumped up and down while Calvin Harris and David Guetta songs played in the background. He sporadically shouted things like "Woo!" "Yeah!" "All day! All night!" and "Who wants to stay Up...All...NIGHT!?" at the crowd. DJ Malik retired midway through the United States portion of the tour, with no explanation as to where he went or what we did to deserve that loss. His last appearance took place at the Patriot Center in Fairfax, Virginia. Yes, we were there.
Zayn's overwhelming reticence mixed with his propensity to eat while he sleeps always made him one of the group's most relatable members, at least to us.
That time Zayn took a bite out of Harry's candy thong.
A fan threw a candy thong onstage; Harry decided to wear it. Sure, Harry put the thong on, but Zayn took it to the next level when he put his face close enough to Harry's crotch to bite off a piece. The Internet exploded shortly after.
That first time the world heard his glory note in "You & I."
That time Zayn embodied the James Dean daydream at the 2014 AMAs.
That time he bought his family a house.
Praise Simon Cowell this moment was captured on film.
That time he encouraged fans to buy 'Up All Night' at Walmart.
That time he told this PopCrush Editor that he loved her hair.
The year was 2012, the location was New York City's J&R, the occasion was escorting my friend's little sister to One Direction's Up All Night signing. Full disclosure: I was low-key obsessed with them already, so I was just using a 13-year-old as an excuse to meet One Direction, you're welcome for the transparency. After waiting in line for four hours and having Louis interrupt my conversation with Harry, I was shoved toward Zayn. He looked down at the stream of albums he was signing and I felt Touched By an Angel to be breathing his air. The four-hour wait was worth it, just to see the way the unflattering fluorescent light fell across his cheek bones.
Just as I was getting ready to drop to the floor in a heap of unworthy, human flesh, he looked up at me and smiled, saying, "Hey babe! How are you? You alright?" and with those stock phrases the sky parted and a light shone down upon me. I replied with a truly enticing blank stare followed by, "I'm great." Still smiling, he responded, "I love your hair, babe. It's very rock n roll." As I tried not to throw up in my hands, I realized he was waiting for a response. My mind went blank as I said, "Thank you! I like your....uhhhhhhhhhhhhh... eyes.....?"
Side note: I have the vocal expression of April Ludgate on sedatives, so there is no way I sounded sincere (even though I was). I was overcome with embarrassment, but he laughed and winked at me as my soul left my body and ascended to Heaven.
We'll leave you with the most depressing (and appropriate) One Direction track we've ever heard, "Spaces." We already miss you too much, Zayn.
See One Direction Through the Years