From a tabloid perspective, the spiciest part of Payne’s Impaulsive interview was ostensibly his comments about inter-One Direction drama. He shared a story about an argument he had with an unnamed bandmate, whom Payne said “threw me up a wall” (Payne then claimed he told this person, “If you don’t remove those hands there’s a high likelihood you’ll never use them again.”)
On top of that, Payne spoke a bit about Zayn Malik and his past controversies, including a feud with Paul’s brother, Jake Paul, and last year’s allegations that Malik pushed Gigi Hadid’s mother during an altercation (Malik ultimately pleaded no contest to charges against him). While Payne said there were “many reasons why I dislike Zayne,” he noted there were also “many reasons why I’ll always, always be on his side. If I had had to go through what he went through, his growth and whatever else… My parents are overly supportive to the point where it’s annoying at times. Zayn had a different upbringing in that sense.”
To be fair to Payne in this regard, it’s incredibly reasonable for a person to have complex, even contradictory, feelings about a person with whom he spent a lot of time within the incomparable crucible that is being in the most popular boy band on the planet. Arguably less defensible was the general levels of cringe Payne exuded throughout the interview, which fans pored over and thoroughly roasted him for on social media. Hell, not only did One Direction’s old X Factor friend Cher Lloyd take a jab, but Payne’s ex-fiance, Maya Henry, seemed to sneak a shot as well (the couple split at the end of May after an alleged cheating scandal).
Elsewhere, one fan highlighted the mortifying way Payne preceded his story about the backstage argument with a little attempt at chest-puffing (“I think it was well-known within the band that I don’t like taking shit,” he said rather stiltedly). Another went beyond the 1D comments to Payne’s bold claims about getting in the boxing ring with the Paul brothers and KSI, another internet celebrity and occasional fighter.
But the remarks that really seemed to earn the biggest pushback were Payne’s rather wild claims about his post-1D solo career. While chatting about his solo debut, 2017’s “Strip That Down,” featuring Quavo, Payne boasted about the song’s streaming success and quipped, “I think it outsold everybody within the band, and I was the last to go [solo]. And I never expected that.”
Liam Payne believes his debut solo single ‘Strip That Down’ outsold the other One Direction members:
“First song, billion streams. I think it outsold everybody within the band.” pic.twitter.com/Gr3c5UEczP
— Pop Base (@PopBase) June 1, 2022
Sure, “Strip That Down” has done numbers with over 886 million streams on Spotify and 365 million on YouTube, but it did not manage to best the chart success of the first solo songs released by either Malik or Harry Styles. The former’s “Pillowtalk” went to Number One in the U.S. and U.K. and has been certified five-times platinum by the RIAA; the latter’s “Sign Of the Times,” went to Number One in the U.K., Number Four in the U.S. and has been certified four-times platinum by the RIAA. “Strip That Down” topped off at Number Three in the U.K., a respectable Number 10 in the U.S., and has been certified three-times platinum by the RIAA.
Those numbers, of course, are only the tip of the iceberg, and it’s probably not in Payne’s interest to discuss things like album sales in comparison to Malik, Styles, or Niall Horan. Though to be fair to the lad, even he seemed to acknowledge this, admitting after his billion-stream boast, “How do you go from there? I still don’t know who I am, I replicate different people on a daily basis.”
For Payne’s sake, we hope he figures out who he wants to be soon — and that it’s not the same man who woke up and chose violence on Logan Paul’s podcast.