The Shady Side Of Zayn Malik

Zayn Malik was considered One Direction's "Bradford bad boy": The brooding, quiet, edgy member of the boy band. The vocal powerhouse was reportedly problematic behind the scenes for the group and has struggled with the pressures and scrutiny of fame — but many of his issues appear to be of his own device.

Malik's time with One Direction, from The X Factor in 2010 until his abrupt exit from the group in March 2015, was rife with drama. While a lot of the group's dirty laundry continued being exposed after Malik left, much of it was highly publicized at the time as well. In the aftermath of the Icarus Falls singer's exit, the public perception of his character seemed to sour thanks to scandals in both his personal and professional life. Though he's kept a relatively low profile since splitting from supermodel Gigi Hadid, make no mistake: Zayn Malik can be quite the shady character.

Zayn Malik's sudden, unceremonious exit from One Direction

In March 2015, a then 22-year-old Zayn Malik quit One Direction in the middle of a world tour, completely, blindsiding his four bandmates as well as their management. A possible reason? Sources told People, "Out of every one of the boys, [Malik]'s the one who struggles dealing with being in the spotlight the most." 

Malik later lamented to Vogue in December 2018 that he left the band without any lasting friendships (despite his statement when he quit saying he'd made "four friends for life"). "I ain't spoke to any of them for a long time, to be honest with you," he griped. "That's just the way it is. There's things that happen and things that were said after I left ... Snide things. Small things that I would never have expected." Publicly, his bandmates have been relatively diplomatic, like Niall Horan who seemingly defended Malik's private nature, and Harry Styles who wished him well. Louis Tomlinson, however, said he's not sure he can forgive Malik.

Liam Payne also skirted the line of criticism and diplomacy when he told GQ in late 2019 that Malik's exit was less than civil. "I think with Zayn's particular exit and the way he chose to go, we haven't really heard from him since he left. He didn't even say goodbye, if I am being honest," he said. "It was a really sordid scenario, from our side certainly. A bit strange. It's difficult."

Zayn Malik dissed One Direction's music after he left

Upon leaving One Direction, Zayn Malik took many opportunities with the press to diss his former band's craft. In his first interview upon leaving, he told The Fader, "If I would sing a hook or a verse slightly R&B, or slightly myself, it would always be recorded 50 times until there was a straight version that was pop, generic as f**k, so they could use that version. I wasn't 100 percent behind the music. ... It wasn't me."

He added, "That's not music I would listen to. Would you listen to One Direction at a party with your girl? I wouldn't. To me, that's not an insult, that's me as a 22-year-old man." He added, "I want to make music that I think is cool s**t." Malik also told Billboard that his bandmates' taste for indie rock was "never cool" where he was from and said of their post-Malik 2015 album Made In the A.M., "I'll be honest. I thought the first single was was quite cool. I heard the second single and — yeah, I didn't buy the album."

Malik even wrote a song called "BeFour" with lyrics including "So say what you wanna say, what you want / Shame is you won't say that to my face." His last album with One Direction before they became a four piece was Four ... and yet he was shocked that he and his ex-bandmates weren't BFFs anymore.

Even Simon Cowell thinks Zayn Malik is shady

Simon Cowell didn't particularly appreciate Zayn Malik's negative remarks about One Direction and their recording process. The X Factor creator and kingmaker responded to Malik's comments in The Fader, noting to The Daily Mirror, "I think once he has had a chance to reflect on everything he will probably reconsider what he's said because it was a very, very democratic process in the band. It is a bit rude to the people who wrote all the hits with them. And to the other band members—I mean they all wrote a lot of the stuff. Life could have been a lot worse, right?" 

Cowell also confirmed that Malik's 1D bandmates had no warning that Malik was quitting the band. The record exec, who served as a mentor to Malik and the rest of One Direction, added that once Malik was "sorted out" and signed to RCA, that Cowell and everyone at Syco Records effectively washed their hands of him entirely.

Zayn Malik's alleged drug use hurt 1D

Zayn Malik was accused of substance abuse while he was still in One Direction, and insiders alleged that his habits contributed to both his quitting the band and his other issues following. His alleged drug problem came to light in May 2014, when a video leaked of him and bandmate Louis Tomlinson smoking something hand-rolled. It hurt the band's reputation, with even Matt Lauer asking in November 2014 if Malik missed a Today performance because of substance abuse and not the stomach bug excuse he'd given. What's more, The Telegraph reported that Tomlinson and Malik "had to post bonds of more than £3,000 each" before they could perform in the Philippines in case they were caught with drugs in the country. (They would have "forfeited" the money if they were "caught using or promoting illegal drugs.")

While Tomlinson cleaned up his act (at least publicly), insiders claimed Malik's issues only gotten worse, and that the embarrassing clip was just the tip of a dangerous iceberg. A source told Radar Online, "Zayn's alcohol and drug use became a huge problem. He chose not to get clean and that is when they parted ways. They gave him every opportunity to clean up his act, but he just couldn't do it."

Zayn Malik didn't support Louis Tomlinson after the death of his mom

Zayn Malik and his One Direction bandmates have conflicting stories over who ended which friendships within the band. That said, Malik may have proved how petty and uncaring he could be when he was the only former 1D member who didn't support Louis Tomlinson after Tomlinson's mother passed away in 2016.

Tomlinson performed his song "Just Hold On" on The X Factor mere days after his mom's tragic death, and Liam Payne, Harry Styles, and Niall Horan were all on hand to root for their former bandmate. Tomlinson told The Dan Wootton Interview podcast (via The Sun) that Malik promised to attend and then never showed. "I had a couple of calls with him after I lost my mum and all the boys had agreed to come to that performance," Tomlinson recalled. "And he didn't show so that really bugged me. It was just seeing everyone there — Harry, Niall and Liam — that was what I needed that night, that support. So on the other end of the spectrum it kind of really showed."

A few weeks after Tomlinson's remarks on the podcast, Malik tweeted, then deleted, "I'd like [to] apologise [sic] for basically being a s**t person." The UK tabloid The Sun linked the tweet to Tomlinson with the caveat that "no specific reference was made to the intended recipient of his apology," so go ahead and take that for what it's worth.

Did Zayn Malik repeatedly cheat on Perrie Edwards?

Zayn Malik's relationship with ex Perrie Edwards sounded like a nightmare for her. He and the Little Mix singer got together in 2011, but the relationship was plagued with rumors of infidelity from just two years into the romance. In January 2013, The Sun reported that Malik hooked up with a waitress named Courtney Webb, who told the tabloid that he attempted to film her performing an intimate act on him with his phone. She claimed that when she realized what he was doing, she told him to stop and to delete it. They allegedly hooked up again the same night, and he immediately called her a cab afterward, though she says they both fell asleep before the taxi arrived. Webb said she had no idea Malik was dating Edwards at the time.

It wasn't the last time he'd be busted for allegedly cheating on Edwards. In March 2015 — just before he quit One Direction while on tour — a woman named Martina Olsson told The Sun that she hooked up with Malik in Thailand. He was also photographed with another woman, Lauren Richardson, in Thailand, but Richardson denied anything untoward happened between them. At the time of the 2015 incidents, Malik denied the cheating allegations and blamed them on "jealous f**ks."

Perrie Edwards claimed Zayn Malik dumped her by text

Zayn Malik and Perrie Edwards eventually called it quits in 2015. Edwards alleged that Malik dumped her via text message, which Malik denied, though he sounded more concerned with his own reputation than with his scorned ex's broken heart. Asking The Fader to quote him precisely, he said, "I have more respect for Perrie than to end anything over text message. I love her a lot, and I always will, and I would never end our relationship over four years like that. She knows that, I know that, and the public should know that as well. I don't want to explain why or what I did, I just want the public to know I didn't do that."

In the Little Mix autobiography Our World, Edwards claimed that after the breakup she was temporarily "homeless." She also told Heart London Breakfast (via The Sun) that the split was so bad she had a meltdown in an airport. I was like a women possessed! It was awful!" she said, adding, "I was either going to get put back on a flight back to the UK or put in a straitjacket!"

For his part, Malik may have left some hints that he cheated within the lyrics on his album Mind Of Mine, including on the track "She Don't Love Me," in which he croons, "I think I know she don't love me / That's why I f**k around." Not exactly subtle.

Zayn Malik's relationship with Gigi Hadid had a sketchy start

Zayn Malik embarked on a rollercoaster romance with Gigi Hadid — and their relationship moved very quickly. According to Us Weekly, Hadid was happily dating Joe Jonas until early November 2015, but by the end of that month, she was spotted out on the town with Malik. The speed at which Hadid moved on wasn't lost on Jonas, who told The Mirror, "I think it's interesting that she moved on so quickly, I mean it was definitely very quick." He added, "It's comical that I'm compared to him. That dude and I have been compared for years, I think it's just funny. To be honest I haven't really listened to his music, but he can sing well." Meanwhile, the Daily Mail pointed out that Malik didn't just allegedly steal Jonas' girl — he also appeared to have copied the DNCE singer's style, too, right down to hot pink tips on their hair.

The Jonas overlap wasn't the only sketchy thing about Malik's romance with Hadid. The singer has often complained about his fame, but he and Hadid shared a Vogue spread, plastered their relationship all over Instagram and worked on a Versace campaign together — all after she starred in his "Pillow Talk" music video, which indicates he's happy to capitalize on a high-profile romance when it works for him.

The beef between Zayn Malik and Calvin Harris got deep

Can someone get this guy off the Internet? In August 2015, Zayn Malik retweeted a quote from Miley Cyrus criticizing Taylor Swift's Apple Music streaming deal. Calvin Harris, Swift's then-doting boyfriend, replied to Malik with (via Billboard), "You've made your money? Cool...f**k the 99% of musicians who depend on these services to survive right? Yeah f**k em." Malik charmingly retorted, "Ha, you just made an absolute fool of yourself mate. You clearly didn't understand what I just said either, so I suggest you calm your knickers before them dentures fall out."

Swift, who notoriously dated then shaded Malik's One Direction bandmate Harry Styles, famously holds a grudge. However, luckily for Malik, the enemy of her enemy is her friend. After Swift and Harris' split, she and Malik collaborated on "I Don't Wanna Live Forever" for the Fifty Shades Darker soundtrack. Sure, it was a hit, which is motivation enough, but when you consider each of their epic levels of pettiness ... the collaboration was likely a very pointed move for both of them.

Zayn Malik's ego got out of control

In August 2015, The Sun reporter Dan Wootton wrote that Zayn Malik sent him "a flurry" of angry messages on Twitter after Wootton published a story about Malik's relationship with ex Perrie Edwards. A source told the outlet that Malik was taking some pages from a particularly troubled person's book. "He's a little boy who needs to grow up. It's really bad for him. He's turning into Chris Brown but without any hits," the insider said.

Indeed, while Malik enjoyed some solo success with "Pillow Talk" and the Taylor Swift duet "I Don't Wanna Live Forever," his other singles and second album Icarus Falls tanked on the charts, even in his native U.K., and he's canceled many of his solo live performances since quitting One Direction, citing his extreme anxiety.

"He is self-destructing right now," a source told The Sun a few months after Malik left 1D. "He's p***ing off so many people." The source, who worked for Syco Records (Simon Cowell's label that used to rep One Direction), added that "power mad" Malik dropped everyone who actually made him successful. "He has gone power crazy. You can blame other people, like his new management, but really it's him ... He has not had any success as a solo artist yet, so his ego shouldn't be that driven."

Did Zayn Malik skip his own sister's wedding?

Zayn Malik may not even have a ton of loyalty to his own blood relatives. In September 2019, The Sun revealed that Malik allegedly skipped his own sister's wedding. Safaa, 17, tied the knot three days after her birthday and later revealed she was expecting a child with her new husband, Martin Tiser. It's possible he made it and just wasn't photographed, or that he skipped the celebrations to avoid stealing his sister's thunder. 

Malik did, however, make an appearance at his mother's 50th birthday party with the rest of his family a few months later, The Sun reported, and he's generally a supportive son: He helped his relatives open a beauty salon and bought his mother a house with his earnings from One Direction. He reportedly still financially supports his entire immediate family. The outlet reported that in the documentary One Direction: This Is Us, Malik is shown handing his tearful mother her keys to their new property. "We never had enough money to buy [our] own house," she says in the doc, adding, "We always lived in rented accommodations, so Zayn knew how very important it was for me to have my own place."

Was Zayn Malik a bad friend to Naughty Boy?

Zayn Malik recorded songs with producer and one-time close friend Naughty Boy. According to MTV, Some of those tracks leaked in July 2015. One of these was a remix of Rae Sremmurd's "No Type." This apparently infuriated Malik, who went on the attack on Twitter, writing, "Someone learned how to upload a video... maybe now he should learn how to use logic ha you ain't s**t but a faker." To really drive his extremely rude point home, he added, "@NaughtyBoyMusic you fat joke stop pretending we're friends no one knows you."

Naughty Boy vehemently denied that he was behind the leak, and insinuated that his and Malik's friendship ended over "something else." He explained to The Guardian, "That was just him throwing his toys out of the pram. ... You have other relationships with lawyers and labels, etc. I don't think we actually fell out over the lack of friendship or trust. I think it was external influences." Still, the producer — who's worked with Emeli Sande, Beyonce, and Sam Smith — hinted that Malik should probably get over himself. "I think Zayn's incredibly talented and his voice is amazing and the world doesn't know that yet," he said. "I think the best thing for him to do now is to go a bit radio silent and let the music do the talking, because then he won't have to get into Twitter wars with Calvin Harris or me, or whoever."