The debut solo release from former One Direction-er Zayn Malik, “PILLOWTALK” gets “dirty and raw” about sex—Malik explained to The Sunday Times:

Everybody has sex, and it’s something people want to hear about. It’s part of everybody’s life, a very BIG part of life! And you don’t want to sweep it under the carpet. It has to be talked about.

Malik’s lyrics focus on both the spiritual and physical elements of sex: the pleasure and the pain, the purity and rawness, “our paradise and our war zone.”

Going solo frees Malik from the restraints of a made-on-TV ensemble like One Direction:

I’m enjoying what I’m doing. I’m not censoring myself anymore, so I’m not tired. I love it.

“PILLOWTALK” premiered on January 29, 2016, the day after an interview with Beats 1’s Zane Lowe during which he previewed the song and other tracks on his debut solo album Mind Of Mine. It later debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100.