One Direction Plot Post-Zayn Future With New Song 'Drag Me Down'

Pop-rock track is first song from band following Zayn Malik's departure

One Direction surprise-released their first post-Zayn Malik single, "Drag Me Down"

One Direction surprise-released their new single "Drag Me Down" Friday morning, the boy band's first single following Zayn Malik's departure.

The pop-rock track shifts the band's sound from the softer folk of their last album, Four, back to the more upbeat, electronic heavy elements of their first two albums. "It's the first song from the new album that we've been working very, very, very hard on," member Liam Payne said in a video the band posted on Twitter following the tune's release. "We can't wait for you to hear it."

The track comes on the heels of former member Malik's announcement that he had signed a solo contract to RCA Records. Right before tweeting a photo of himself signing the contract in front of a RCA sign, Malik confirmed that the launch of his solo career is why he had left the band. "I guess I never explained why I left," he wrote. "It was for this moment to be given the opportunity to show you who I really am!" He ended his tweet with the hashtag "#realmusic." 

Malik quit the band less than a week after exiting the tour due to "stress" back in March. For most of the year, One Direction have been touring the world in support of Four, beginning the North American leg in early July with support from "I Love It" duo Icona Pop.

Member Niall Horan teased the inclusion of new songs in their set list for their North American tour in an interview with Rolling Stone. "We have a few surprises," he said in June. "Most importantly, we will be rehearsing new songs which we are very excited to perform live for the first time." However, the band has yet to share a release date on their fifth LP.