rites of passage

Zayn, Today You Are a Man

Zayn, not a boy, a man.
Zayn, not a boy, a man.

In his continued efforts to distance himself from his baby-faced days in One Direction, Zayn has now released a super-sexed-up video for his new song, “Pillowtalk.” It is a song where he says things like:

In the bed all day, bed all day, bed all day
Fucking and fighting on
It’s our paradise and it’s our war zone

Zayn wants to make sure we all know how grown-up he is, which he really drives home by showcasing how much he likes making sweet love to Gigi Hadid, because he’s done sex like a grown-up, because that’s what grown-ups do.

Congratulations, Zayn! You’ve completed the time-honored ritual that all pop stars who want to transition from baby pop star to grown-ass pop star must complete: releasing the most overtly sexual video you can to signal to the world that you are no longer a child, but an adult. This is sort of like a pop-star bar mitzvah, if you will.  

But where does Zayn’s “Pillowtalk” fall in the history of artists who have made the same statement? Let’s consider:

Justin Timberlake, “Like I Love You”:
Justin Timberlake was already the sexy old soul in ‘N Sync, so his transition into adulthood was seamless and effortless. This song announced that he’d grown from “boy-band member who can dance” to “smooth man who can dance” just like we always knew he would. Britney Spears’s “I’m a Slave 4 U” and Rihanna’s “Rude Boy” had similar effects.

JC Chasez “All Day Long I Think About Sex”:
In contrast to Justin Timberlake’s efforts, there was nothing subtle about JC Chasez’s entry into the adult world. He wrote the thirstiest “Guys seriously I’m an adult because I say sex a lot while hot ladies writhe around me” anthem of all time.

Lindsay Lohan, “Rumors”:
Lindsay Lohan was once a child actress, beloved for her role in The Parent Trap. But in 2005, it became very important for her to remind everyone that she could — and would — put on a going-out top and get raunchy in Bungalow 8, because she was a grown-ass woman.

Selena Gomez, “Hands to Myself”:
Along with “Good for You,” and “Same Old Love,” this constituted a sort of trifecta of adulthood-assertion for the former Disney star. But with this song, the world really got it: Selena is a grown-up. She has breasts and underbutt and is pro-masturbation and can rent a car and vote.

Justin Bieber, “Boyfriend”:
The Biebs sure tried hard to convince everyone he was grown! He drove a fast car; he flashed his bling; he danced with some super-hot chicks like he knew what to do in a bedroom situation. Sadly, his pre-adolescent scraggle ’stache ruined any sort of  façade of adult male sexuality.

Christina Aguilera,”Dirrty ft. Red Man”:
Like your nerdy best friend Jenny who started wearing a bra over the summer and came back re-branded as “Jen the popular girl who gave someone a hand job at camp,” this song convinced Xtina’s fans to accept her adult sexual knowledge without any skepticism.

Miley Cyrus, “Can’t Be Tamed”:
Some might think Miley Cyrus grew up when she straddled a giant dildo onstage during her tour. In reality she grew up long ago: in 2010, with this video. This was the moment Hannah Montana gave way to the Miley we all know now.

Jordan Knight, “Give It 2 U”:
This video was weird because Jordan Knight was already an adult when he released the song, so going to a carnival to discuss how sexually knowledgeable he was in an attempt to distance himself from NKOTB felt … creepy. He went from New Kid on the Block to “Kids on the Block Should Maybe Stay Away From That Guy.”

Mazel tov, Zayn. You’re in great company.