Whether he was pushed from the group or left on his own, Zayne Malik may have seen the handwriting on the wall. Boys grow up.  (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Whether he was pushed from the group or left on his own, Zayn Malik may have seen the handwriting on the wall. Boys grow up. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

Zayn Malik’s departure from boy band One Direction in the middle of its Southeast Asia tour is following two story arcs at the moment and there could be a grain of truth to both. But either way, he probably got out while the getting was good.

One story line hyped by tabloids is that Malik was so deep into drugs and alcohol that he was essentially kicked out of the band.

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The other is Malik’s own take on the situation; that he got tired of the paparazzi, the endless hours and the toll on his privacy by the constant pressure from social media and fans.

In the end, however, it doesn’t really matter. One Direction is nearing the end of the life-cycle for boy bands, simply because the boys are growing up.

The story arc is very familiar. Bands like Boyz to Men, ‘N SYNC, Hanson, 98 Degrees and New Kids On the Block all went through the same cycle. The boys get older, and the band breaks up.

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One Direction was created in 2011 by rejects from Simon Cowell’s UK talent show “X-Factor.” The broke big in the United States a year later.

Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson were the reigning boy band after leaving another boy band, The Wanted, in the dust. But five years is about the life-span for such groups.

Harry has always been the star and as long as he sticks with One Direction, the band will play on. But Harry is also sending signals about doing a solo project.

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Once, he’s gone, the band will ceased to exist, even if the other members soldier on. There’s a good chance Malik saw the handwriting on the wall.

It comes as no surprise in the wake of his departure that he is working on a solo album. The fact that One Direction is still together and the controversy over his departure will give him a much needed boost.

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If Harry had dropped his solo album first, Malik and the others would have faded quickly into obscurity. A case in point is’N SYNC. Has anyone gone on to a successful solo career besides Justin Timberlake?

By leaving the group before Harry, Malik has the best chance to make it on his own. No doubt he was tired of performing in Harry’s shadow as well. Think George Harrison and The Beatles.

The boys probably never had that much personal loyalty to each other anyway, given the way the band was manufactured by Cowell. In short, they’re not the Four Season.

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Although Malik has been portrayed as a loose cannon, a drunk and a drug abuser, he may be smart like a fox. Only time will tell.

But one thing is certain, the clock never stops on boy bands.

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