The perception we get of Zayn (Zain Javadd Malik) from his post-One Direction solo album, Mind of Mine, is two-sided. One shows an artist wanting to deviate from the shadow that has consumed his image, while the other comes off as slightly vanilla, with songs resembling the work of Chris Brown (suggestive lyrics) and Nick Jonas (beats). Against these familiar-sounding compositions, the gentle deluxe track “Blue” is a bright spot on the 18-track album.
In many ways, “Blue” does for Zayn what “Blue Ocean Floor” did on Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, transplanting the artist in a completely different musical environment—with impressive results. Driven by a classical undercurrent (featuring a Bach interpolation) punctuated by quickly repeating “doodoodoo” sounds, it’s in this ballad that Zayn plays with light production and slow-moving delivery, stretching notes and words longer than done previously on the album.
Whereas the song “She” is the swagger talking, “Blue” feels far more genuine, with lyrics depicting a slightly forlorn acceptance with simplicity. When he sings “I need somebody to love,” it’s not with a suggestive overture; the lyric sounds earnest and desperate. The same goes for the line, “I’ve been doing it wrong for too long.”
“Blue” feels far more genuine, with lyrics depicting a slightly forlorn acceptance with simplicity.
In the context of the album’s R&B inclinations, “Blue” stands out, with a dissonance that keeps the album from falling into a pre-existing mold among mainstream acts. As Zayn endeavors to find his footing outside the pop realm, “Blue” joins the tracks “Befour” and “Truth” in establishing the artist’s potential for greater creative variance.
Link to NME interview with Zayn Malik