“Strip That Down” by Liam Payne

Of all the former members of One Direction, Liam Payne has definitely had the least interesting solo career. Harry Styles, Niall Horan, and Louis Tomlinson have all released at least one absolutely fantastic song since the band broke up. Even Zayn Malik, who released some perfectly awful material like “Pillowtalk”, also put out some gems like “It’s You”. Payne’s only real hit since the breakup, on the other hand, was this song, which doesn’t even have the distinction of being outstandingly terrible. The song was co-written by Ed Sheeran, and it’s basically a less interesting copy of “Shape of You” (which wasn’t really Sheeran’s best work to begin with). As for the lyrics, they’re all about how Payne wants to shed his boy-band image and basically become a Club Rapper. The problem is not so much that he is inherently unconvincing in the role (with the right execution, he could probably pull it off), but that the song comes across as him openly pleading with the audience to see him in this new light, which completely undermines the self-assured swagger he’s trying to project here. As I said, this isn’t exactly awful, but next to his bandmates’ “Sign of the Times”, “This Town” and “Just Hold On”, it definitely makes it seem like Payne is underperforming here.

Verdict: Mildly bad and extremely disappointing.

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