U.K. singer-songwriter Zayn Malik is gearing up for his music comeback this year. He's already got a new single on the horizon and his second solo album to follow. In late February and early March, Malik started to hype up his next release by recording videos on Instagram of himself in the studio. The behind-the-scenes clips include Zayn rehearsing new material while playing around with live covers of his favorite artists like Michael Jackson, Prince and Stevie Wonder and surprisingly some Bollywood. As we wait for the new music, here's a ranking roundup of Malik's micro covers that pay tribute to past musicians who have inspired him across different genres.
Ok, so No. 10 is technically not a cover, but an acoustic take by Zayn of his verse on August Alsina's "Don't Matter." The remix leaked online last month so the two released it for free to fans shortly after. Malik contributes some lines that are slick and sexy and they sound all the more sweeter in this little live clip.
Malik makes Bonnie Raitt's classic "I Can't Make You Love Me" almost unrecognizable with his spacey and experimental arrangement. Like Bonnie before him though, he's a vocal force to be reckoned with once he gets to the powerhouse chorus and delivers a soaring performance.
Malik's debut album Mind of Mine was largely an R&B affair and he shows the versatility in his voice by taking on Paolo Nutini's soft rock ballad "Last Request." Zayn's heavenly falsetto finds its footing among the gentle guitar strumming as he beautifully emotes the heartache behind Nutini's words.
Compared with the other classic covers on this list, Joe's "I Wanna Know" is one of the more recent hits. Like he did on much of Mind of Mine, Malik gets another moment to flex his grown side with Joe's sensual lyrics. Zayn puts the R&B ballad to bed with his stripped-down and irresistible take.
Malik's most surprising covers include two songs by Indian artist Kailash Kher. Zayn sang in Urdu on Mind of Mine for interlude "Intermission: Flower" and he taps into his South Asian roots again on the Bollywood hit "Allah Ke Bande" and "Teri Deewani." Malik also recently recorded a song with A. R. Rahman so let's hope he continues to explore more of his cultural heritage in his music.
Malik covered Stevie Wonder's "Knocks Me Off My Feet" that was popularized by Donell Jones in 1996. He sings about falling for a girl that's got him weak in the knees and honestly, his little rendition and sweet falsetto could do the same. Once the chorus hits, Zayn delivers a knockout performance.
Malik, with the help of Mind of Mine production duo MYKL, mashed up Craig David's "Rendezvous" and Michael Jackson's "Human Nature." Zayn comes through with a breezy rendition of David's U.K. hit before switching it up with beautiful harmonies akin to Jackson's on his 1983 classic.
Another late and great legend Malik takes on is Prince and his 1984 hit "Purple Rain" from the soundtrack of the same name. Backed solely by a keyboard, Zayn goes all in to hit the anthemic highs of that massive chorus. Malik's tender take is short and sweet but just as impactful.
Following in the footsteps of Roberta Flack and Lauryn Hill, Malik does "Killing Me Softly" a capella with MYKL. His rendition is absolutely haunting from singing those chilling lyrics to that breathtaking high note section. It's been over 20 years since the Fugees version so Zayn should really record the song for #Z2.
1. Michael Jackson's "You Are Not Alone"
Malik and MYKL regroup for another classic by the King of Pop, "You Are Not Alone." Zayn digs deep in the Instagram clip to come through with a heartfelt performance. While all these micro covers seemed like studio playtime, Malik actually wanted to do right by Michael Jackson and recorded a few takes as revealed by the bloopers.