Zayn Malik's 'wHo' Lyrics Are Smart

Merry Christmas, Zayn Malik fans. Sure, December 25 is all of five months away, but that hasn't stopped a certain ex-One Directioner from dropping two singles all at once like a musical (and much younger, svelter) Santa Claus. "Cruel" is all sorts of catchy and you should listen to it, but that's not we're concerned with here. No, the Zayn Malik Ghostbusters song lyrics have meant that I'm not even all that bothered about the endlessly exciting "Cruel" (which may or may not reference girlfriend Gigi Hadid). Malik has used original lyrics for the verses and some extremely familiar, famous lyrics for the chorus to bold new effect.

Seriously, he has done what no one else has: basically turned the 1984 Ghostbusters theme tune into a haunting love ballad. It's actually pretty clever and impressive. I wasn't expecting to love the sound of one of the best soundtrack tracks of all time being updated to a 2016 version, but you know what? Zayn, you've done a great job. Maybe this whole leaving One Direction thing is actually going to work out for you. But let's break down how he does this, by examining the new relevance old lyrics have in the context of the new verses penned here.

Verse One

When you're standing in the darkAnd you struggle to find the lightWhen you just try to find your wayBut you just can't find the timeI'll come for youYou know that I'll save you

What's interesting here is how the lyrics recall Ray Parker Jr.'s "Ghostbusters" without using any of the same words. "Is there something strange in your neighborhood/ Who you gonna call" has creates the same sense of unease as this does and like the Ray Parker Jr. song, Zayn implies the addressee of the song is going to have to look for outside help. Besides which, it also recalls another famous song in its themes, Johnny Cash's "Personal Jesus." The lover as savior seems to be being set up here — we don't know what form Zayn's assumed character takes (ghost? lover? concerned flatmate? personal Jesus?) but he seems very dedicated for being there for you, girl.


Who you gonna call, gonna call?Who you gonna call, gonna call?When you need somebodyWhen you need someoneWho you gonna call, gonna call?Who you gonna call, gonna call?When you need somebody

When you need someone

When you need somebodyWhen you need someoneWhen you need somebodyWhen you need someone

So, this is where things get interesting. Because obviously it's a word for word copy of Ray Parker Jr.'s theme tune but given the bittersweet melody and delivery, it has a totally different effect. This isn't funky theme tune music but a love ballad. The only thing ghostly here is how hauntingly Zayn intones the chorus over the backing. He shoots, he scores. It's a melodic delight.

Verse Two

When the water's just too deepGetting chased by the sharkWhen the pressure's just too muchAnd you feel it in your heartI'll come for youYou know that I'll save you

Well, these are some mixed metaphors. We're talking sharks in a movie about ghosts. Does Zayn possibly get mixed up while drafting lyrics for the soundtrack to some Jaws remake we haven't heard about yet? But even so, the theme abides. Zayn is thinking about you, girl, and he's ready to save you if need be.


And who's right?Let me knowI'll be thereI'll be closeIt's your fearThat we won'tIf this diesBe my ghost

Um, creepy. "Be my ghost"? Please never use this as a chat up line, gang. It's weird.

In summary, Zayn has decided that ghosts and being haunted is a good metaphor for being in love. Which, sure. Legit. But then he takes it a little too far. All the same, I think we can all agree, it's the smartest, most unexpected twist we've had on Ray Parker Jr.'s song so far. So snaps to Zayn for so cleverly drawing on a song that came out almost a decade before he was even born.