Zayn Malik vs. One Direction
Malik's split from One Direction seemed as amicable as it could be when he first announced his departure in March 2015. He cited a desire to step back from the spotlight and be a "normal 22-year-old," but eyebrows arched when he was photographed just days later in a recording studio with producer Naughty Boy. Louis Tomlinson began a heated Twitter exchange with Naughty soon after the split, citing his "inconsiderate" choice to retweet a video which the One Directioner believed was "clearly trying to wind the fans up" in the wake of the band's personnel change.
Malik himself managed to stay out of the conflict at the time, but that would change that May when Naughty tweeted a photo of the two together with the caption "Replace this." Tomlinson, believing the message to be a thinly veiled dig at rumors that One Direction were planning to replace the departed Malik, did not bite his tongue. A lengthy back and forth with Naughty culminated in Tomlinson writing, "Jesus, forgot you were such an in demand producer ... How does it feel to be riding on the back of someone else's career?" Unamused, Malik replied to his former bandmate: "Remember when you had a life and stopped making bitchy comments about mine?"
For fans, the feud was a sad reminder that Malik, who had just purged his social-media bio of any reference to his prior band, was unlikely to return to the fold in the foreseeable future. In the coming months he was brutally honest about One Direction's new output. "I heard the second single and yeah, I didn't buy [their] album," he told Billboard in January 2016. He elaborated in an interview with Fader: "That's not music that I would listen to. Would you listen to One Direction at a party with your girl? I wouldn't."
Relations between the former friends grew still frostier that winter. "The truth is I haven't spoken to any of the boys at all really," he told L'Uomo Vogue that January. "I tried to reach out and be their friend, but they haven't even replied to any of my calls or texts."
Ultimately it was tragedy that helped restore relations. After Tomlinson's mother died that December, Malik reached out to offer his condolences and support. "[Zayn and I] got back in touch with each other and kind of cleared the air and talked everything through," he said on Andy Cohen's radio show in August. "So we're mates again, I suppose."