9) Get Low
Bottom of the heap, a casualty caught in the crossfire of Payne’s move from polished but enthusiastic boyband pop to wannabe serious RnB bad boy, Get Low is unconvincing.
Working with DJ and producer Zedd, he falls a bit flat with the repetitive attempted summer anthem.
8) All I Want For Christmas
Payne dropped his sad, sad Christmas love song yesterday in the ramp up to the release of his debut solo album, LP1.
A surefire Directioner crowd-pleaser, the piano-laden ballad ticks off the usual romantic clichés — pining, whining, break-up fears versus wanting to mend the relationship, rhyming “together” and “forever” — efficiently.
It’s nothing much to write home about and, though it’s bound to chart well with the support of his legions of fans, is unlikely to rival its namesake, Mariah Carey’s timeless classic.
7) Bedroom Floor
Still undergoing growing pains on his route from One Direction to self-styled RnB stud, 2017’s Bedroom Floor comes off a bit wannabe Justin Timberlake.
An awkward tension between sexually-charged lyrics and an unshakable Disney boy-plays-bad makes for a clumsy and somewhat forgettable end product with an insipid chorus.
6) For You
Teaming up with Rita Ora for an addition to the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack resulted in one of Payne’s more convincing performances.
Having a dramatic story to draw on — in both the music video and song — he seems to find his comfort zone character-wise.
Forgetting, for a moment, his slick RnB/Reggaeton-leaning brand being cultivated since 1D’s split, he settles back into a more mature version of the bright-eyed, middle-of-the-road popstar hopeful first seen auditioning for X Factor in 2008 (and then again 2010 — hello, One Direction!). And he’s good at it.
Liam Payne is set to release is debut solo album
Liam Payne and Rita Ora teamed up on For You
Last year, Payne teamed up with DJ and producer Jonas Blue and Canadian singer Lennon Stella (one half of sister duo Lennon & Maisy) on club-friendly Polaroid, which narrowly missed out on making it into the top 10 on the UK chart.
As with For You, he seems more at ease in his role playing it straight as a polished (if slightly vanilla) popstar — Polaroid is Payne secure in his position as an ex-boyband, now solo artist who’s sticking to his established lane, simply hoping to push on forwards in it.
4) First Time
In August 2018, with the lead single from his EP of the same name, Payne consolidated his move into the Latin pop-infused sound which has since become his staple on First Time, featuring French Montana.
For the *ahem* first time in his solo career, there’s a sophistication to his sound — newly matured and trying out a lower, slower vocal style as he lays back on the beat.
It does, however, hammer home the fact Payne’s solo material has rarely been truly solo and rather is heavy on collaborations.
Only LP1 will tell whether or not he can prop up a full album as a solo artist.
Liam Payne released his debut solo single Strip That Down in 2017
Liam Payne recently released catchy track Stack It Up
3) Strip That Down
A respectable third place on the list goes to the former Michael-Bublé-crooning X Factor star’s debut solo single.
Penned by Ed Sheeran, the danceability is strong with this one.
Strip That Down got a bad rap critically but is a seriously catchy track, albeit tinged with cringe.
The simplicity of its let’s-get-laid message and the popstar’s octaved performance of the chorus delivers an irrepressible hit.
And the fact it’s by far Payne’s most successful solo song to date, peaking at number three and spending 25 weeks on the chart, is unavoidable.
2) Stack It Up
Payne’s latest release comes in second as he capitalises on Ed Sheeran’s ability to deliver undeniable bangers, albeit a string of virtually identical ones.
With the idiosyncratic Sheeran creation, Payne gets in on the action recently being shared between the likes of Sheeran and Camila Cabello’s South of the Border and Little Mix’s Woman Like Me with a distinctly Latin feel.
Liam Payne’s best solo song to date is the Reggaeton-infused Familiar
Lyrics about money and “flexing” tire quickly under scrutiny, but the beat and hook bear it to great pop status.
Side note: There’s also an ever more Sheeran-heavy acoustic version out there, for those who’d rather forget it’s Payne altogether.
Quite why Payne so desperately needs to be topless in the mega old-school girls and cars music video is a mystery, but Familiar is obsession-inducingly brilliant.
The man behind Little Mix’s Wasabi, Mike Sabath, even manages to imbue Payne’s music with genuine sex appeal.
The boyband alumnus has Sabath to thank for the swagger the song has (and the video so bitterly lacks), while the addition of Colombian star J Balvin doesn’t do any harm in adding a level of authenticity to the Reggaeton sound he’s been trying to give his solo material.
Familiar is irrepressible, smouldering and demands repeating over and over again.