The Week in Gossip: Zayn Says Good-bye to One DirectionJamie McCarthy/Getty Images
Heartbreak of the Week: Zayn Malik Quits One Direction
Where were you when you found out Zayn Malik was leaving One Direction? I was buying a bagel and coffee — an otherwise delightful meal I shan’t soon forget. Let us begin with the facts.
Zayn is, or was, the most talented vocalist in the group. He never seemed destined for solo fame like Harry Styles, but he was a solid role player. He never pretended to play a musical instrument in any capacity like Niall Horan the Irishman, but why should you, when your natural singing ability is clearly superior to the rest of your cohort’s? The fact is, unless you are a teen, a parent of a teen, or an overgrown teen, you probably don’t know Zayn by any one description. In One Direction: This Is Us, he buys his mom a house and she cries. Perhaps you heard about that. Another fact about him is that he is engaged (for now) to Perrie Edwards, a pleasant blonde from Little Mix, another X Factor band of Simon Cowell’s creation. Zayn is known to have a predilection for tattoos. He was caught on video smoking a joint. All of these disparate facts about him speak to why the group can soldier on despite his departure. Zayn never had a narrative — until earlier this week.
The official reason for his departure, according to the band’s Facebook page, is his desire for normalcy: “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.” That’s a reasonable desire, but Zayn and the band are downplaying some recent events. The initial firestorm ignited earlier this week when he was photographed in Thailand looking too comfortable with a blonde who was not his fiancée. Her name is Lauren Rich, which will be valuable information one day, just as knowing the name “Wade Robson” might win you a bar trivia night.1 The incident forced Zayn to immediately break away from the band’s tour commitments in Asia to fly back to the U.K. At the time, the 1D publicity machine cited “stress” in a statement released via TwitLonger. We must credit Simon Jones of Hackford Jones PR — even under duress, he never lost sight of the audience here: a social-media-savvy teenaged army that need not go to Us or People or CNN for clarity. The firm couched it as a temporary break, an occurrence so minor that no lengthier statement was necessary.
The most devout Directioners were deeply upset today, but really, no one should be surprised. Back in the fall, just as the band’s album Four was being released, Zayn missed a high-profile appearance on national TV: Today moved its whole set to Universal Studios in Orlando, 1D rode to the set via pontoon, and the band performed a mini concert. Matt Lauer asked the band if there was any truth to “rumors of substance abuse” on Zayn’s part, and Liam shot back, “No, he’s just got a stomach bug. He’s OK. He’s just at home. He just needs to rest. He’s OK.” OK, sure. At least we learned back then that Zayn was fragile and the most controversy-prone of the five. Of course, we already knew the latter, thanks to the aforementioned joint. Zayn and Louis Tomlinson — arguably the least talented member of the band — were caught lighting up. They didn’t respond when the news broke, except for an official statement saying they were investigating legal action because the damning footage was stolen from Louis’s phone. In a few small but crucial moments, Zayn was breaking from the script. This blind item, very much NOT explicitly about anyone in One Direction, suggests that perhaps his problems are more dire.
Devoted fans were not the only ones crying in the wake of yesterday’s announcement. The show must go on, and so 1D keeps on touring. Harry and Louis cried onstage at their Jakarta show, and now the Internet believes they knew Zayn was leaving even though it hadn’t yet been announced. Given the short life cycle of the average boy band, this development is not a positive one, and the other lads must know that. Maybe that’s why they were crying. This moment feels eerily similar to when Backstreet Boy A.J. McLean entered rehab in the summer of 2001, just before the Black & Blue tour kicked. BSB were beyond their peak at that point. The remaining four members of One Direction, and 1D stakeholders worldwide, may need to acknowledge a similar reality here. Godspeed, One Direction. Godspeed, Directioners. Godspeed, Zayn.
Love Triangle of the Week: Lil Wayne, Drake, and an Ex-Girlfriend of Weezy
Lil Wayne is shopping a book proposal. It’s a memoir that covers his time in prison on Rikers Island. The proposal details the time Drake came to visit his mentor in lockup and admitted to knowing Wayne’s girl biblically. Wayne explains that Drake actually coitused the woman the day before Wayne met her, so there’s not necessarily any bro-code violation. Nonetheless, Weezy was deeply upset.
Ugly Divorce of the Week: Jeremy Renner and Sonni Pacheco
Jeremy Renner’s divorce from Sonni Pacheco began as weird, but it’s now moved into a dark phase. This week, he’s claimed that she threatened to extort him with “intimate videos” if he didn’t help her get a green card. “Initimate videos” is clearly a euphemism for something sexual, but merely using that euphemism raises suspicion further. Why not just call it a sex tape? Those are a dime a dozen, and there’s hardly an audience for one starring Hawkeye. The latest court filing has Renner accusing Pacheco of neglectful parenting and contains multiple references to their “roommate.” The “roommate” accuses Pacheco of doing coke and quitting breastfeeding because she wanted to drink more alcohol. Presumably, the “roommate” has a name in the court documents. Why didn’t TMZ publish his or her name if it’s in the public record? Why do these adults have a “roommate”? A follow-up post, in which Pacheco denies most of the allegations, references Renner’s “business partner” instead of a “roommate.” Stick to one amorphous signifier, TMZ.
Breakup of the Week: Bradley Cooper and Suki Waterhouse
Does anyone actually care whom Bradley Cooper is dating? It had been Suki Waterhouse for the last couple of years, but they barely did anything of note, despite his relative ubiquity ever since Silver Linings Playbook. The breakup has unleashed a few fun ancillary stories, though. Waterhouse is getting over it by playing Clueless dress-up with her friends, while Cooper is hitting the publicity trail. He and Jennifer Lawrence are promoting their latest project together, Serena. They were photographed leaving a hotel together, leading to speculation that perhaps they were sleeping together, too. J-Law insists they are not. After three movies together, I think we can believe they are just friends.