Lyrical Lasso
Let's dissect those fan theories that Zayn Malik might release a country album.

Here's Why Fans Think Zayn Is Going Country With His New Album

Did not see this coming from him.

The “yeehaw agenda” is in full effect. It seems 2024 will be a fascinating year for country music, which has been riding a resurgence wave for quite a while. Not only are the genre’s usual stars making moves, but unsuspecting artists (hi, Beyoncé and Lana Del Rey) are embracing more rustic sounds on their upcoming albums. Now, fans believe Zayn Malik might also release a country record this year.

So, let’s backtrack a bit. It’s been nearly three years since Malik released his last album, Nobody Is Listening. Similar to his first two solo albums, that release also found the singer thriving in his comfortable bubble of R&B-pop. He’s shown his feathery falsettos mesh and age well — ahem, 2016’s Mind of Mine era — with this production, so it surprised fans once he announced his new music would have a different direction.

In July 2023, Malik teased his untitled album’s theme on the Call Her Daddy podcast. “I’m doing a record I don’t think people are really gonna expect,” he said. “It’s a different sound for me. And it’s got some more narrative going on, like real-life experiences and stuff. My daughter’s mentioned in there a couple of times.”

Malik’s comment made fans wonder how far he might step away from his signature sound. And seven months later, they got a small glimpse of an answer. In February, Rolling Stone exclusively confirmed the “Pillow Talk” singer co-produced his new album with Dave Cobb, who’s known for producing country hits.

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In the Rolling Stone report, Cobb teased the upcoming record is an intimate insight into Malik’s life — both as a performer and human. “What got me about Zayn was his voice, you can hear love, loss, pain, triumph and humanity in it,” Cobb said. “I feel as if this record is removing the glass from his spirit directly to his fans. Zayn has really created his own universe on this record, he really has no fear and is speaking straight from his soul.”

That source of vulnerability would pair well with a genre shift to country, which has always been rooted in telling touching and realistic stories. Rock (and all its glorious variations) also has that allure, and Cobb has recently worked with artists in that genre. With that said, there’s a chance Malik’s album could be a blend of those two sounds with a hint of R&B.

Neither Malik or Cobb revealed the genre of the album; however, that didn’t stop fans from speculating it might be country. Some even wondered if his time in Pennsylvania — where he currently lives — inspired this new era.


Fans also believe Malik subtly confirmed his upcoming pivot on X, formerly known as Twitter. Shortly after Rolling Stone announced the singer’s album, he liked a few supportive tweets, including one that noted his voice would adapt well to the genre’s more “soulful and bluesy” flare.

It seems this fan was right on the money, as Malik’s latest snippet for his single, “What I Am,” has traces of that modern tinge. The teaser’s visuals also have some country elements, such as scenes of Malik walking past a barn and fields of crops.

While Malik’s new era already has some mixed reception, it’s intriguing to see him lean into a different sound so far.