Flashing lights. Inverted colors. Kaleidoscope patterns. Dripping paint. Dangerously high ponytails.
Sitting down to watch Zayn Malik’s new music video for “Pillowtalk” feels strangely similar to walking into a ‘70s themed EDM club. The background of the action is constantly changing, everything is flashing and there is florally decorated nudity constantly thrown in your face.
This video is majestic.
It is obvious from the start of the music that the song is sexually charged, and the images Malik chose definitely follow suit. From a naked woman’s spread legs to forms of bodies pulsing against thin, striped material to blatant making out, there is no ignoring what this song means. The most prominent woman in the video is clad with a powerfully high ponytail, a tiny spandex leotard-like contraption and a choker, unabashedly resembling a dominatrix. Tears of blood indicate the roughness of the sexuality he wants to portray, as do scenes of spandex-bound women boxing and a woman’s face covered in spikes.
If the imagery is not enough to convince you of this, Malik’s lyrics certainly will be. He is evidently no longer shaping his music for the ears of the 13-year-olds who frequent One Direction concerts. Talking about his bed as a “warzone,” a place for “fuckin’ and fighting,” he does not sugarcoat his much matured subject matter.
Malik’s own appearance further marks this move into maturity. While he always had a slightly “bad boy” charm as part of the boy band, he now seems to have completed fully the transition. His hair is dyed whiteish-blond, he is clad in black and his nose is most definitely pierced. Personally, I have no qualms with these developments, and I am sure that a lot of viewers share my feelings.
Aside from the in-your-face sexuality, which could easily seem overdone for some viewers, the video’s construction is pretty damn artsy. While the all-over-the place visual stimulation can be overwhelming if you watch the video eight times in a row like I did, it is edgy and unexpected for the one-time viewer. However, there is A LOT going on at all times. At some points, the story gets a bit jumbled, and you’re really just looking at spinning beautiful people under strange filters with flowers on the side.
While my loudly and proudly feminist self was initially a bit concerned with the manner in which women’s bodies were presented, it quickly became clear that the women in this video are not passive sexual objects. They are just as passionate and just as engaged in getting down and dirty as is Malik. 3 out of 5 stars.