Taken from this week’s Future Pop mailer. Click here to subscribe.

The 1D solo era is now in full swing, and so far it’s been pretty predictable. Zayn is the ‘edgy’ one whose well-hidden bad attitude is shining through, Niall is sweet but dull, Louis’s steering sensibly clear of singing and Harry’s taking the time that only he can afford to get it right. The unknown quantity is Liam Payne. As the member who already had a solo following before the band, was hesitant to give that up to join the band, and has always been known as the ‘Barlow’, there’s a lot riding on this for him. Unfortunately, he can’t match Gary’s vocal and songwriting talents, and is pursuing a risky R&B route. Zayn has already gone that way, with much more authenticity than ‘nice guy’ Liam will be able to. Collaborating with Pharrell might sound impressive, but is he going to get a ‘Sing’ or an ‘I Was Gonna Cancel’ out of it? I suspect the latter. Nonetheless, I’m featuring him here because every big band’s solo era has its surprises, and Liam might just pull something out of the bag. With little expectations compared to Harry and Zayn, he could be the underdog that surprises everyone.