The overnight release of “Drag Me Down” came as a surprise to fans. The timing, though, wasn’t too surprising.
On Wednesday, Malik — who left One Direction in March — announced he had signed a solo record deal with RCA Records. On Twitter, he appeared to take a shot at the group that made him famous by adding the hashtag “#real music.”
Both RCA Records and One Direction’s label Columbia are owned by Sony.
One Direction’s new single “Drag Me Down” will be on the foursome’s fifth album, which is due in November. The track was written by Jamie Scott, John Ryan and Julian Bunetta.
Members of One Direction tweeted out news of the song’s release early Friday.
One Direction is currently on the North American leg of the On The Road Again tour. They perform Aug. 20 in Toronto; Sept. 5 in Montreal; and Sept. 8 and 9 in Ottawa.