One Direction Shares First Track Without Zayn Malik, 'Drag Me Down'

Cal Aurand
Louis Tomlinson, Niall Horan, Harry Styles and Liam Payne of One Direction photographed onstage in 2015

Liam Payne has called it a "bit of a surprise." For One Direction's global legion of fans, the sneaky release of a new single is a lot of a surprise. Payne dropped a big one overnight when the 1D singer tweeted an iTunes link to the boyband's new single, "Drag Me Down."

"Drag Me Down" represents the start of a new era for 1D, which is now a foursome following the departure of Zayn Malik in March.

One Direction Celebrates Five Years as a Band

The new track just happened to materialize toward the end of a week in which Malik has signed back-to-back deals with Turn First Artists management and RCA Records, signaling the green shoots of his own solo career. Is 1D stealing the thunder of its breakaway star? The lads, it turns out, are full of surprises.

One Direction Confirm Progress on New Album During First TV Appearance Post-Zayn Malik

The pop juggernaut, which recently celebrated its fifth anniversary (and somewhere in the region of 65 million career record sales), is currently working on a fifth album, which is due for release in November. "Drag Me Down" is the first track from it. 

The song was written by Jamie Scott, John Ryan and Julian Bunetta, and produced by Ryan and Bunetta. And it's available worldwide on Spotify and iTunes. Payne and his bandmates Harry Styles, Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan are in the midst of their fourth North American tour, with the On The Road Again trek.