One Direction is becoming a four-member group with the announcement of Zayn Malik’s exit.
Malik spoke about his departure, saying “My life with One Direction has been more than I could ever have imagined. But, after five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right.”
As for his official reason, he says “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. I know I have four friends for life in Louis, Liam, Harry and Niall. I know they will continue to be the best band in the world.”
While it is unclear if there were any other factors that led to Malik’s choice to leave, it has been rumored that bad press concerning relationships could have played a role. In 2012, Malik quit Twitter after abusive comments were sent to him. He’s had bad press after being seen with a stripper in 2013, smoking pot in Peru, and then allegedly having an affair in Thailand.
Previously, Malik took off two tour dates citing stress, following the alleged affair.
The stress for young celebrities is infamously high, considering that most young adults make mistakes without having the entire world jumping down their throats. We’re not sure whether his departure from the group will allow him to live “a normal” life considering that he has attained celebrity status whether he likes it or not.
One Direction will continue their tour as planned, and even has a fifth album scheduled for later this year.
The band issued a statement saying “We’re really sad to see Zayn go, but we totally respect his decision and send him all our love for the future."
The group rose to fame after finishing third in The X Factor in 2010. Simon Cowell, creator of the series, said “I would like to say thank you to Zayn for everything we has done for One Direction.”