If anyone thought people still listened to ZAYN, this album finally confirms that “Nobody Is Listening” to his music anymore.
Middle of the road. I think a lot of people can agree that the mainstream falls under that category nowadays. Most artists are not striving to make more than “the norm” of music, and they play it safe. Why does that happen? Because it works. It appeals to the majority of the crowd, and it gets streams and revenue. But there’s always an outlier who tries to break out of their shell, and try something new. We have to appreciate artists doing that, being able to take that risk to leave what appeal they had in the first place, to freshen up their style for new listeners. Multiple artists in the pop industry come to mind when I think of this topic, and ZAYN is definitely not one I thought was going to make a transition. He’s known for making laughably bad generic pop music, and coming into his 3rd album, you’d think he’d follow that same formula, and do you want to take a guess at what path he took? Well, you guessed it, the same exact pop formula the mainstream followers learned to love for years.
There’s a specific point in your career where you just have to stop and relook at your past. You’ve got to make some sort of a change in your musical style, especially when it comes out as mediocre. Zayn seems to not listen to that, and keeps going to where it makes him money. I’m not going to blame him for that, that’s his choice, but a new stylistic approach would benefit his quality greatly, but as of now, he’s come to terms with “the norm” performing with a lackluster style and not really reaching away from the bubble he’s in. He’s mixed into the crowd, he doesn’t bring anything special to the table, not even a slight twist in a different style, he’s just there. An afterthought. Someone you don’t really look to when you think of the genre, cause he’s just the background.
Before I get into the album itself, I do have to give some props to Zayn. There are some elements where I feel he does try. Where “Icarus Falls” and “Mind of Mine” fails, there’s a seemingly step up of effort to try harder from multiple fronts like the production and vocals. Although not being impressive by any means, I feel there’s still some sort of props to give the artist as it isn’t like there’s 0 improvement in between his debut and sophomore releases. Now even with that being said, this album is exactly what I thought it was going to be. An average Pop/R&B project with derivative ideas and nothing to add to the music industry.
Zayn, the reason why Nobody Is Listening is because you make boring music. When your album is 11 tracks of boring to without bringing you at least one decent/good song, you’ve failed to make an album. An album is supposed to be a collection of songs that match each other’s quality and sounds good throughout, while also being cohesive. Usually when music melds together, it’s a good thing, but when it becomes to the point where the music mixes together into one as seemingly one 35 minute song that you desperately want to end because of how little you feel from it, it’s not a good thing. The reason why everything feels like one long track is because of the little variation. The production either stays the same or is barebones. The album doesn’t have much structure or really any substance either. Even Zayn saying “I feel like something’s missing” there’s a lot missing, and it’s glaring. It’s soulless R&B, an album that you can seemingly fall asleep to because of the little detail there is. It’s completely failed to give anyone interest, and there’s no reason to listen to it, so at least Zayn did let you know that before listening to it.
The thing with NIL is that there isn’t anything outright bad about it. If you listen to all of the songs individually, I feel you would have an empty but not horrible experience with it. But when putting it into the context of a full length album with 10 other songs back to back, it comes off as bad, no effort music. Earlier in the review, I said there were some sorts of improvement, but you can only go up from “Icarus Falls”. This is only a slight increase in quality, and at that, not a memorable one. The little props this album gets doesn’t matter as it overall struggles to impress any listener. Despite all of this, this album will get streams, and it will be successful. It’s melodic chill music, it has a demographic, but it doesn’t fall under my interests at all. It’s an empty experience, you end up wasting your time after listening, and that time is wasted, you’ll never get the 35 minutes back. Unless this falls under your interests, I don’t recommend it at all.
Looking at the layers to this album, it isn’t very complex. It’s quite a simplistic R&B album. I feel people dogged on Ariana Grande’s “Positions” quite a bit last year for curating an album that didn’t really live up to the standards of great R&B music. But when compared to this album, it seems like “Positions” was godsent (and if you didn’t know, I gave it a pretty low score with a critical review). With that, it says a lot about this album. Every little detail underperforms here, from production to vocals to features, and much more.
Starting with the production, it’s the median of radio music, except worse. It’s the most barebones/skeletal/lackluster production I’ve heard in quite awhile. The instrumentals might as well not even be there as they’re barely present and add really nothing to the songs. They’re quite melancholic and simplistic, but that isn’t in a good way. If you have production like this, you have to have something else popping out, like a vocal performance, to really brighten up everything, because without anything really showing itself, it all blends together as a quiet monotonous song without any material. But with that, you know how I feel about everything else. There was nothing to pop out that basic production, and with that, it shows its true colors. It shows that it’s boring, basic, and lazy production that seems like it was recorded all in one session without any thought behind it.
This album could’ve worked on that simplistic production if it weren’t for the vocal performances. Like with the production, it’s indolent. As I said before, if you don’t have anything else popping out with basic production, it mixes together into a wearisome song without anything to say about it, and that’s what happens with this whole album. It’s the same song over and over again, and at that it’s a bad song. The vocals aren’t even bad per say, they just don’t have soul or power to keep any listener interested in the tracks. They lack emotion or care. Even the features on this album seem to put 0 care into their sound. At least they do match the song/album in the same sort of vibe it has, and at least they do outperform ZAYN making some of the more enjoyable moments on the album, but that doesn’t make it good, like at all. There’s absolutely no care put into this album, and it seems like a round 2 of “Icarus Falls”. If you don’t put any care into your own album, why should we care about it?
The album might be mediocre, but it comes off as worse than that. I think looking into the artist itself, it shows that he simply doesn’t care about his music anymore, and that he’s not putting any effort into improving it. All of the songs meld together into one prolonged obnoxious experience, with little substance in production, vocals, and features. Zayn did hit one thing out of the park with this one, the name, “Nobody Is Listening” indeed.
Favorite Tracks: None
Least Favorite Tracks: All of them