Zayn unfiltered. That is what I have always wanted, and that is what this song provides. No subterfuge. No PR or marketing ploys. Just a conflicted boy singing from his soul in 2014 when he was stuck in the middle of this weird hot/cold and romantic/unromantic dynamic with his bandmate (while secretly contemplating leaving the band.)
This will always be in my top 5 favorite Zayn songs of all time, mainly because it seems so…raw? Everything about the track feels undecorated and unassuming, and that lends to the authenticity generated by some of the most vulnerable lyrics Zayn has ever written. I read about this track somewhere and the writer described it as “elliptical” and a lightbulb went off in my head, because that word is phenomenally fitting.
“I Won’t Mind” is elliptical in the sense that it feels incomplete (both the production and the sentiment being expressed in the lyrics) but it also leaves much to be imagined regarding who and what he is discussing. That is the precise magic of this song. It emerged out of nowhere in 2015 in the wake of Zayn leaving the band, so it was summarily rejected and hated by most Directioners for this reason. They didn’t understand the power this demo held because they were still nursing their wounds from being abandoned by Zayn mid-tour, so they didn’t realize this song in truth had zero to do with Zayn pursuing a solo career.
In my assessment, this track is unspeakably romantic, because it was not recorded with high-level production, nor was it ever marketed, and Zayn himself has never spoken about it. It just feels like this open secret floating around in the ether, which has never been properly addressed by its creator, and in the end all of this adds to its elusive quality. Basically it feels like we the public were allowed to peer in on a private conversation between two unwitting lovers who never anticipated their feelings would see the light of day.
Perhaps more fittingly, it feels like a love letter the world somehow intercepted and published of its own accord, regardless to whether the writer wanted it to be known or not. Or maybe it was fate? Because a love like this simply deserves to be known? Regardless of the reason it was leaked in 2015, we now have it for all of eternity to dissect and speculate on and celebrate, and I selfishly don’t regret that it was leaked.
A part of me even surmises Zayn may have leaked the track himself as a reminder to Harry of his love after he left the band. We all remember how he wore a Green Bay Packers sweater for Harry on March 25th, so the idea that he leaked IWM himself mere days later is not so far-fetched. (Gosh, Imagine Harry’s surprise when immediately after he lost Zayn in 2015, he logs in online to see a private demo that once only belonged to him being passed around the internet; losing it’s original meaning like a game of Chinese Whispers or Telephone, and being reported on by mainstream media. That had to be a mind-blowing day for him.)
For many reasons, I truly truly feel this song was never meant for public consumption. In my heart, I am certain this track was written and recorded for one person’s ears only. (“For your eyes only…”) And we actually have proof that the intended recipient did hear the song in 2014 (when it was written and recorded) long before the public was made aware of it in March 2015.
Let’s take a look back at March 30, 2015, the day it was actually leaked. Zayn had left the band on the 25th, and Naughty Boy (prominent UK producer + Zayn’s BFF at the time) was getting into his first verbal spar with Louis on Twitter, which resulted in him bragging about his working relationship with Zayn, and releasing IWM on Sound Cloud.
Naturally, this fueled a war between “Zaughty” (Zayn + Naughty Boy) and Louis. The mindless foot-soldiers in that war included Zayn’s new solo stans (eyeroll) and the OG Directioners. I say “eyeroll” because honestly phuck his stans (even though I do take Zayn’s side in the 2015 Twitter wars against Louis like I always have.)
In any case, the Sound Cloud link was released, and the fans and media went insane (for varying reasons) but within 24hrs the track was removed. It wasn’t a good look, especially not days after he had left the band under the premise of “wanting to live a normal life.” At this time, Zayn and his team were still operating under the narrative that he did not leave the band to pursue a solo career; although that was demonstrably false.
Zayn had been working with Naughty Boy and MYKL (UK producers) writing and recording music since early 2014, and had already signed to a new record label with a solo record deal by July 2015 (a mere 4 months after he left the band.) So to pretend a solo career wasn’t always in the works since he met these guys in 2014 is just disingenuous.
Here’s the problem with “I Won’t Mind.” It is clearly an earnest and confessional song, speaking to someone who remains a mystery to the world (not to us) about their secret relationship. How can we be so sure?
1.) The song was written and recorded in 2014 WHILE ZAYN WAS ENGAGED TO PERRIE. Zayn met Naughty Boy at the Brit Awards in February 2014 and from then on spent a lot of his free time during breaks in the tour at the studio with him and his crew.
The tweet above is proof the song existed in 2014. We also know that it was written and recorded in 2014 because it was recorded with the batch of songs Zayn created for the FOUR album such as “One Chance To Dance” which were ultimately left off the album. Problem is, Zayn and his team tried to pretend “I Won’t Mind” was also intended for the Four album once he got tons of backlash for recording solo music when the song leaked in March 2015. But it’s clear from the lyrics and based on a tweet from Louis that “I Won’t Mind” was never a rejected 1D demo.
2.) “I Won’t Mind” becomes an even more troubling track when you take a closer look at the lyrics.
In 2014 when this song was written, Zayn was engaged to Perrie. IWM is undeniably a heartfelt tune that meant something to Zayn at the time. It’s all in his voice. That is the most striking aspect of that song, not just the lyrics, not just the lack of production, not just the raw authenticity, but the emotion prevalent in his delivery. So why is Zayn singing in such a heartrending way about someone never being his, when in fact he was engaged to the theoretical love of his life at the time and had been since mid-2013??
That answer is easy. As with all of Zayn’s deeply emotional and ill-timed tracks, it proves they were not written about Perrie. Zayn seems to have had a secondary love that is hinted at strongly in all of his music, such as “Too Much” and “Fingers” and “Common” and “Dusk Till Dawn.”
It’s the reason he writes a song like “Pillowtalk” about extreme sexual chemistry that he can’t live without while Perrie is subsequently writing about how she faked it in bed with him. It’s the same reason he voluntarily dumped Perrie (likely by text) in 2015 the exact same month he signed to a new record label, then got a finish line tattoo after doing so, while also writing “Intermission: Flower” about a love deterred and a love still waiting to blossom so his heart can be at peace. How on earth could either of these songs (written and recorded in 2015) be about the girl he voluntarily and conveniently dumped when he signed to a new record label??? THEY’RE NOT ABOUT HER.
Zerrie were not on the same page in their relationship at any point, because Zayn was always emotionally and physically preoccupied with someone else. That’s why many people call Zerrie and the engagement fake, just like Zigi. Whether all parties involved in Zayn’s two major public relationships realize it or not, their relationship with Zayn was/is PR-driven, lacks integrity, and is apart of a major love triangle in Zayn’s life.
3.) Then you have to consider the fact that in IWM Zayn mentions having someone’s back from the start, and it is similar to the language Harry uses in “Sweet Creature” where he references a coming of age love with someone he “started” out with living in the same house. For me the “start” in both songs references the greatest journey both have taken in their lives, which is music. They both got their start together in music at the same time, growing, learning, traveling the world and falling in love.
Some try to pretend IWM is about Liam and “Sweet Creature” is about Louis because it is evident in those songs that both Zayn and Harry are referencing their time in the band (and therefore a relationship with a bandmate.) But Ziams and Larries fail to realize that all solid, consistent, mutually derived, reliable, irrefutable evidence leads to one conclusion: Zayn and Harry were involved with each other, off and on, rather intensely, and on a romantic level since Day One.
Three of the boys in question have had children with women, so mentioning Zigi having a baby is completely irrelevant here, especially because gay and closeted men have babies ALL THE TIME. What cannot be refuted or ignored or buried are the many ways in which Harry implicated Zayn in his latest musical offering Fine Line (as in every song he has ever written tbh.) Especially mentioning how his lover is afraid to be open, while Zayn is telling us in “Tightrope” how afraid and conflicted he is, and how he was running from his one truth, which Harry faced in “Lights Up.”
PAGE TWO: I Won’t Mind, Someday Maybe, & Tightrope