Zayn Malik broke teenage hearts everywhere in late March when he made the decision to leave One Direction, the wildly popular boy band that he and his four friends had formed in 2010.
In a statement released at the time, Malik said, “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.”
It looks like the former Directioner has had enough time to rest – Malik announced on Wednesday via his personal Twitter account that he is officially starting a solo singing career.
Malik has been signed to RCA Records, the same label that has signed Justin Timberlake, Usher and Britney Spears. Malik posted a photo of himself signing a contract at the record label, followed by another tweet reading, “#REALME.”
Some fans read the “real music” and “real me” mentions as digs at One Direction, but Malik retweeted a message from a fan, explaining what he really meant:
Simon Cowell, creator of the televised British music competition “The X Factor,” similar to “American Idol,” also tweeted his support of Malik. Cowell was instrumental in One Direction’s rise to fame, signing the band to his record label, Syco, after they placed third in the competition in 2010.
No word yet on when we can expect Malik’s first solo album, but the remaining members of One Direction are currently touring North America.