One Direction loses fan favorite Zayn Malik

The end of an era arrived for One Direction fans around the world when Zayn Malik announced he was quitting the band on March 25. The other members of the band will continue their worldwide stadium tour “On the Road Again” and will also finish recording their fifth studio album. For those unfamiliar with the boy band, One Direction was formed on the United Kingdom television show “The X Factor” in 2010. Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson were strangers to one another before their “X Factor” stint. Although they came in third place in the competition, they generated a worldwide fan base that quickly launched their careers.

One Direction announced Malik’s permanent departure on their Facebook page.

There, Malik commented, “I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.” The rest of the band followed, posting, “We’re really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future.”

Realistically, Malik’s resignation shouldn’t have come as much of a shock to fans. He’s known for being the quietest of the five boys, preferring to keep his life private rather than relish in the spotlight. What should have really tipped off the fans was when Malik’s rep confirmed that he was taking a “hiatus” from the tour due to stress just days before One Direction announced he was done for good.

This stress was likely sparked by rumors that Malik cheated on his fiancée Perrie Edwards—member of British girl group Little Mix—after photographs surfaced the Internet of Malik looking cozy with another woman. Malik defended himself on Twitter, but leaving a tour immediately following the emergence of these rumors doesn’t help his case.

After Naughty Boy—a producer Malik has been working with—leaked a solo track by Malik called “I Won’t Mind” on Monday March 30, fans are questioning Malik’s true reasoning behind his decision to leave. How does someone quit a band to escape the attention, only to immediately go to the studio and record songs of his own?

It’ll be interesting to see whether or not One Direction fans support Malik’s prospective solo career. From the looks of Twitter, many fans are siding with Louis Tomlinson who called Naughty Boy “inconsiderate” in a tweet responding to a video posted by Naughty Boy where the producer claimed that he and Malik are a force to be reckoned with. It appears that fans are mostly disappointed, however, in Malik’s silence throughout these events.

Boy bands breaking up is not a new concept—New Kids on the Block and NSNYC fans can attest to this fact. Perhaps in a decade or so, Malik will return to One Direction for a comeback performance, like NSYNC did on the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. For now, however, Directioners will just have to stay tuned and see what else Zayn Malik has up his sleeve.