"Infinity" is without a doubt a breakup song.
But is the second single from One Direction's fifth album, Made in the A.M., about a girl … or maybe about founding member Zayn Malik's decision to leave the band?
Let us first ponder the more obvious interpretation of this sad, EDM-infused ballad, then circle back to the hypothesis some 1D fans are floating.
Will It Hurt Forever?
Saying good-bye to someone you once loved is one of the most soul-wrenching tragedies in life. And in the immediate aftermath, it can feel like the pain will go on forever.
That's exactly the emotion the four remaining lads from One Direction are trying to unpack on "Infinity," the word they've seized upon to try to articulate just how badly the separation hurts. "How many nights does it take to count the stars?" the chorus asks. "That's the time it would take to fix my heart." A few lines further, that titular reference to an unending universe of hurt turns up again: "I never counted all of mine/If I tried, I know it would feel like infinity."
Limitless ardor turned into limitless anguish. It's no wonder we hear this bit of scorecard-minded backlash: "Oh, baby, I was there for you/All I ever wanted was the truth."
Well, the truth is now all about the pain as even acrimony is mostly submerged beneath waves of despair-drenched regret ("Eyes can't shine/Unless there's something burning bright behind/Since you went away, there's nothing left in mine/I feel myself running out of time/ … And now I'm one step closer to being two steps far from you").
Apart from the song's overall spirit of deep melancholy, the only thing that could be heard as suggestively problematic is this line: "How many nights have you wished someone would stay?" Stay where? In the relationship? Or for the night? Either interpretation seems plausible.
So Is It About Zayn? It Is, Isn't It!?
The same could be said for some fans' hushed conspiratorial whisperings regarding the song's "true" subject. So is it really about Zayn?
Well … it certainly sounds like it's about a girl. I mean, seriously, how many guys call their friends "baby"? So if it is about Zayn (and the band's not sayin'), then it's more metaphor than specifics, a veiled reference to the pain of One Direction's fellowship being torn asunder.
What is clear here is that it hurts to lose someone we love—whether to a falling out, a breakup, a divorce or death. And the band's doing its best to put words and melody to what that pain feels like. What we don't get in this mournful bit of music is much reflection about what it's going to take to lift heads and hearts again and move forward in, well, you know, one direction or another.