Zayn Malik iHeart Radio Music Awards: Former One Direction Member Impresses With His First Solo Performance

Zayn Malik just proved he’s better off solo. During his first-ever awards show performance during the iHeart Radio Music Awards, Zayn killed his solo “Like I Would” and everyone was on their feet.

Zayn has been criticized, mostly by loyal One Direction fans, when he decided to leave the group. When asked why he left, Zayn said that he was no longer making real music there.

Zayn ventured out in the solo scene with so many naysayers behind his back. However, people started to tone down their attacks on Zayn after they heard his recently released album Mind of Mine.

Zayn’s new album, Mind of Mine, quickly reached the top spot of Billboard 200. Though the album has only been released last March 25, it already earned 157,000 equivalent album units by the end of March 31. In total, he had “112,000 in pure album sales.”

Zayn was made to be on the iHeart Radio Music Awards stage. Even Zendaya pointed out that Zayn did well during his performance. According to Teen Vogue, the Nickelodeon teen star said that “he naturally lived up to the hype.”

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 03: Recording artist Zayn Malik performs onstage at the iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on TBS, TNT, AND TRUTV from The Forum on April 3, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)

Zayn’s performance was a breeze. He charmed the audience throughout the song. Though the song was upbeat, Zayn still managed to showcase his iconic falsetto and his vocal range at the end of the song.

“He left it all on the stage tonight — it’s clear that his first four years as one-fifth of One Direction was merely a warmup act…even if it was one of the best crash-courses for musical superstardom ever.”

Zayn as The Solo Artist

In an interview with Billboard, Zayn had decided to bare it all out. After some time of hiding the truth from the media, the former One Direction member said, “I’m not censoring myself anymore.”

“My fans are giving me s**t every day,” he said. “Like, ‘Where the f*** is your music? You’ve been at it for months. Give us something.’ ”

Though he left the group, Zayn noted that these guys are his “four friends for life.”

“The truth of it is you can think one thing about a situation and the total opposite can happen. I had every intention of remaining friends with everybody, but I guess certain phone numbers have changed and I haven’t received calls from a lot of people. I’ve reached out to a few of them and not got a reply. Certain people have pride issues, but it’s stuff you overcome in time.”

Zayn said his creativity was clearly limited when he was in the group. He added that they were not even allowed to say “words the way we would want to.”

“I’d sit and wonder, ‘If the fans knew how it worked, what would they think?’ My argument was: People are more intelligent than that. They want to hear what’s real, so why don’t we write some stuff that we’re actually going through?”

Thankfully, for Zayn, this bravery paid off. Even RCA Chairman/CEO Peter Edge acknowledges Zayn’s unique talent. With the new Mind of Mine album, Edge said that he can remember Zayn with One Direction before.

“When Zayn was in the band, he had all these songs he was writing, and plans to do his own music. It just feels like maybe he’s further along than the others.”

Zayn has been working very hard to create the new album. Though he admits he still had bad days while creating the new album, he generally enjoyed the creative freedom.

“That’s because I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m not censoring myself anymore, so I’m not tired. I love it.”

Watch Zayn’s breakout performance during the iHeart Music Awards below:

[Image credit: Rich Polk/Getty Images for iHeartRadio/Turner]