Former One Direction Star Zayn Malik Sets Records With Billboard Chart Topper

Former One Direction singer Zayn Malik has silenced his critics by scoring a No. 1 album on both sides of the Atlantic. Malik should be thrilled that his debut album, Mind of Mine, topped the charts in both the U.K. and in the U.S. in its week of release. Of course, in 2016, hitting the top spot may not tell the whole story. Malik walked out on One Direction just weeks into the band’s last tour. Zayn upset many One Direction fans when he appeared in the studio with former friend Naughty Boy just days after returning home, leaving One Direction to continue the tour as a four-piece.

As reported by the Inquisitr, over the weekend, Malik also managed to alienate many former fans when he appeared to criticize One Direction’s music and his former bandmates in interviews with Fader and Billboard. What Zayn’s interviews made clear was that he felt stifled creatively as a member of One Direction. Malik also claimed that One Direction’s management team controlled the band so closely that he was not even allowed to grow a beard. Many fans will understand Malik’s frustrations and his desire to explore a musical path that is closer to his own heart.

There is no doubt that Malik has done exactly that, and Zayn will likely feel vindicated by the fact that his debut album has topped the charts in a number of countries around the world. The Daily Mail reports that Zayn has even managed to become the first U.K. solo artist to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard chart. According to Billboard, Malik is the first U.K. artist to score a No. 1 with their debut solo album since George Michael did so with Faith, although it took Michael nine weeks to rise to the top of the chart.

Zayn may even take some satisfaction that One Direction’s Made in the A.M., their first album since he quit the band, debuted at No. 2 in the U.S. behind Justin Bieber’s Purpose, which was released on the same day. It is perhaps a little ironic that Zayn has also become the first British act to debut at No. 1 with their debut album, since he achieved the same feat with One Direction in 2012 with Up All Night.

With another in a series of firsts, Zayn is the first U.K. act to achieve No. 1 with their first album on both the Billboard 200 and the Official U.K. Albums Chart since Susan Boyle started atop both lists with I Dreamed a Dream in 2009. By any measure, Malik has achieved a hit with his album, and Zayn has every right to be very pleased with himself. That said, Malik may be more than a little worried by the sales figures.

According to the Sun, Zayn’s album sold fewer than 23,000 copies in the U.K. in making its way to No. 1, sales the tabloid described as “embarrassing.”

“Zayn might be No. 1 but the sales will give him and his team a big fright. They have only got themselves to blame. Zayn has focused most of his attention on the US market – and the album is performing really well over there.

“But he has barely given any time to pushing the record here. He cancelled a lot of his planned promo and that ultimately has cost him.”

To put Malik’s sales into context, Made in the A.M. sold just over four times as many copies in the U.K. in its first week, while Adele’s 25 sold over 800,000 copies. If Zayn expected to score big after concentrating his promo efforts in the U.S., then he is set to be disappointed again. According to Billboard, Malik sold 112,000 copies in his first week, while One Direction again sold almost four times as many with over 400,000 copies sold during the first week of release. Adele sold more than 30 times Malik’s figures with 3.4 million first-week U.S. sales.

It is perhaps ironic that Malik’s sales have been relatively poor. Zayn’s offering has been well received in the music press, and the critics have been either impressed or gushing about Malik’s music. It may be the case that Malik has alienated many of his former fans, while Zayn has been written off by the audience he wants to appeal to because of his boy-band past.

Malik’s performance at last night’s iHeart Radio Music Awards certainly went down well with the audience. You could do worse than giving Zayn Malik’s solo work a listen — you may just be surprised.

[Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for iHeartRadio/Turner]

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