Zayn Malik is in a new music era.

Zayn Is Kinda Going Country, But He Describes It More As Blues

He’s going in a new direction.

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What a time to be a fan of mysterious artists. In the last year, the industry’s quietest singers have come out of their shells to release new music — or give an oddly pleasing performance at Coachella. Now, Zayn Malik has fittingly announced his return. After three years of silence, Malik recently revealed his new album, Room Under the Stairs, will drop on May 17.

Sonically, Room Under The Stairs is a notable departure for Malik. After five years of wavering through pop and R&B, the singer is exploring a different genre: blues. On Apr. 9, he revealed he first toyed with that sound when he recorded “Alienated,” the first track he wrote for the album.

“[“Alienated”] helped me mold and shape my own voice and other things, like the guitars,” he said in a Instagram video, which features a snippet of the folksy song. “I don’t even know what to call it genre-wise because I don’t want to say country — I don’t think it’s country. I think it’s my version of blues. You can’t really put [this album] into a genre. It’s influenced by other music, but it’s my version of it.”

Malik’s statement seems aimed at the original fan theories that he was going down the country/indie-rock route for this album. It’s an understandable speculation, as folk and country have always been closely connected. However, similar to the genre-defying ethos of Beyoncé’s Cowboy Carter, it seems Malik’s adopting the roots of blues — which has its own umbrella of sounds — to create his own vision.


This genre announcement is the latest of many details Malik has revealed about Room Under the Stairs. On March 14, he shared three different angles of the album’s cover art on Instagram. True to the title, one photo sees an empty room hidden in a blue outline of his face. The other two designs show the room is actually a studio, a place Malik revealed he spent “the last six years in.”

“I recorded most of [Room Under The Stairs] in a tiny shoe cabinet in my house,” he said during his recent appearance on “Hot Ones.” “I felt like it was fitting to name it after that room, so that people could get even more sentiment into what the whole idea behind it was.”

In the same interview, Malik also shared this album has a different sound from his previous albums. “It’s just really raw and honest. I hope people get that when they listen to it. I hope they get some insight into how I’m feeling and things I’ve been going through over the last six, seven years that I’ve been writing this record. That’s the most important thing to me. I want people to really feel a connection to this record,” he said.

Here’s everything to know about the album, so far.

Room Under The Stairs Is In The Final Stages Of Construction

Malik’s upcoming album will release on May 17.

Malik’s In His Blues-y Poetic Era

On Apr. 10, Malik revealed the emotive tracklist for Room Under The Stairs on Instagram. It features its two lead singles, “What I Am” and “Alienated.”

  1. “Dreamin”
  2. “What I Am”
  3. “Grateful”
  4. “Alienated”
  5. “My Woman”
  6. “How It Feels”
  7. “Stardust”
  8. “Gates Of Hell”
  9. “Birds On A Cloud”
  10. “Concrete Kisses”
  11. “False Starts”
  12. “The Time”
  13. “Something In The Water”
  14. “Shoot At Will”
  15. “Fuchsia Sea”

Malik Isn’t The Only Producer On The Album

In February, Rolling Stone exclusively confirmed Malik co-produced his new album with Dave Cobb, who’s known for his ear in country music. Cobb has also dabbled in rock. This collaboration was the first clue for fans that Malik would pursue a drastically different sound.

Hm, Is There A 1D Connection Here?

JMEnternational/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

OK, probably not. Nonetheless, it’s interesting seeing Malik take an Architectural Digest approach with this album theme. Not only is it new territory for him, but it lines up with the titles of his former One Direction member’s latest albums: Louis Tomlinson’s Walls and Harry Styles’ Harry’s House.

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