As a member of One Direction, Zayn Malik was expected to be squeaky clean. The boy band did not pose shirtless or sing about fornication. The group was marketed to pre-teens as a bunch of well-behaved lads having a laugh. But now Zayn's with a new solo track, "Pillowtalk," it looks like he's ready to be more than a teenage heartthrob. He's prepping to become a sex symbol.

On Sunday night, Zayn tweeted out an announcement for the new single; the steamy album art features Zayn reclining, shirtless, with come-hither eyes and beckoning body language. Gone are the bright colors of his pop music career—the black and white shot adds a stark sexuality to his already impressive physique. When he was in 1D, Zayn Malik surely had someone picking out his clothes; for his solo vision, his choice of shirt is no shirt at all.

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Since his departure from One Direction, Zayn's talked a bit about his solo career. In November, he told Fader that his new album was almost completely mapped. Still, there was some mystery about what direction Zayn would take: Would he try and emerge as a cunning R&B artist? Or a smart pop star? Would he sing dance music or sultry grooves?

Here's the "Pillow talk" video:

On Wednesday, in addition to the album art, there was a profile in The Sunday Times, and Zayn made the big reveal: His debut album is gonna be all about sex.

"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," Zayn told the Times.

Nothing could be more predictable than this decision, but at the same time we could not be more here for it. Making a sexy solo album is a right of passage for any young pop male pop star. Take your shirt off. Make some sultry eye contact. Let the world know you're having sex via a young (preferably also famous) girlfriend. And make your fans think you want to have sex with them. It's almost de rigueur.

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Let's look at a few examples:

Justin Timberlake, "Like I Love You"

Ain't nobody love you like I love you
You're a good girl and that's what makes me trust ya
Late at night, I talk to you
You will know the difference when I touch you

Justin Timberlake's boy band-to-pop superstar trajectory was a huge success. When Timberlake broke away from *NSYNC and released his debut solo album, Justified, in 2002, he brought with it a heaping dose of sex appeal. He'd split with Britney Spears, and even included a break-up anthem ("Cry Me a River") on the album. From the album's start, with "Seniorita" the tracklist is chock-full of sex appeal. The lead single from that album? The incredibly sexy "Like I Love You." Not a bad example for Zayn to try and follow.

J.C. Chasez, "All Day Long I Dream About Sex"

Feel the rhythm, hit the spot, getting hot
All night long

All day long I dream about sex
And all night long I think about sex
And all the time I think about sex with you, with you

J.C. Chasez was so desperate to play the sexy solo artist after his stint in *NSYNC that he completely forgot to try for even an ounce of subtlety. "All Day Long I Dream About Sex" is a song Chasez probably wishes he could forget, but that I literally never will.

Nick Lachey, "Shut Up"

Cuz
When we take our clothes off
Don't you know the world stops
When we touch, when we kiss
When we shut up for a moment
We are minded by the one thing
You on me or nothing

Remember Nick Lachey? Did you forget about his debut solo album Soulo? Though some of the songs on that album (looking at you "This I Swear" and "Can't Stop Loving You") are unbelievably sappy, the lead single was definitely trying for a sexy vibe.

Omarion, "O"

O, in the mornin', O, in the night
You sayin' O means O is hittin' it right
O, O, O, you can't get mad at me
I'm just aimin' to please, let me hear you scream O

Omarion is much more famous for his solo work ("Post to Be"!) than for his earlier position as the leader of R&B group B2K. The lead single on his Grammy award-winning debut album O is a seriously sexy jam, and one that Zayn could easily mimic in "Pillowtalk."

Jordan Knight, "Give it To You"

Baby you know I can give it to you
I can't deny I'd do it right
Just let me know and I'll give it to you
Show me where I'll taste you there

I don't even know where to start with Jordan Knight's breakway from New Kids on the Block. The 1999 release was one of the first modern-era boy band breakout singles and boy, is it a doozy. There is a line in this song that states, "Anyone can make you sweat, but I can keep you wet." It does have some severely rape-y undertones, but it's certainly a play for the same sexy individuality as the rest of these.

Nick Jonas, "Jealous"

'Cause you're too sexy, beautiful
And everybody wants to taste
That's why (that's why)
I still get jealous

More recently, Nick Jonas broke away from his Jonas Brothers past with the single "Jealous." The song isn't nearly as sexy as some of the others on this list (or at least, it's a lot less explicit), but the concept is the same: The best way to launch a solo career is with some sex appeal.

Some wondered if, as one of the few practicing Muslim celebrities in a particularly islamaphobic period of history, Zayn would depart from typical pop formats to make some kind of statement but it's obvious that he's not going to do that with his music. "I would never be trying to influence anything or try to stamp myself as a religious statement or portrayal of anything. I am me. I’m just doing me,"  Zayn told Fader.

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Even though Zayn tweeted on January 16 that he was "setting trends," the promotion and hype around this debut single plays right into an already well-established format for young male stars. And that's a smart move for him. We are on board for the arrival of sex-appeal Zayn.

Kelsey McKinney is a culture staff writer for Fusion.