During the Thursday, December 19, episode of Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, a fan called in to ask Payne, 26, what he thought of Styles’ opening monologue on SNL, in which he called Malik, 26, the “Ringo” of their band.
“I think it’s just a funny joke at the end of the day,” Payne said on the talk show. “Obviously, Zayn’s circumstances for leaving were his own and it’s a different situation for all of us and I suppose we deal with it in a different way.”
He added: “I thought it was quite funny.”
One Direction, which originally consisted of Payne, Styles, Niall Horan, Louis Tomlinson and Malik, announced their hiatus in August 2015. Us Weekly broke the news that they eventually decided on a permanent pause on the group in January 2016, but the “Pillowtalk” singer had already walked away from the band prior to the hiatus and breakup in March 2015.
At the time, Malik shared a statement that read, “After five years, I feel like it is now the right time for me to leave the band. I’d like to apologize to the fans if I’ve let anyone down, but I have to do what feels right in my heart. I am leaving because I want to be a normal 22-year-old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight.”
When hosting SNL on November 16, the “Watermelon Sugar” singer, 25, gave a shout-out to his former bandmates during his monologue and seemed to purposely leave Malik’s name out of it.
“I don’t know if you’ve heard or not, but I’m not in a boy band anymore. I’m in a man band now,” Styles said while sitting at the piano during the show. “I was in a band called One Direction. How crazy would it be if they were here tonight? Well, they’re not though. Wouldn’t it be crazy if they were though? They’re not.”
The “Sign of the Times” crooner then showed his lads some love and referenced another major band that came from England, The Beatles. “I love those guys. They’re my brothers,” he said. “Niall, Liam, Louis … and um, Ringo. Ya, that’s it.”
Some fans freaked out, tweeting their reactions to Styles seemingly shading the one band member who walked away from the group. Other fans pointed out that Ringo Starr was the first Beatles member to leave the group before they eventually broke up, so it wasn’t shady at all.
While hosting The Late Late Show on December 10, the British singer had his ex-girlfriend Kendall Jenner as a guest. While playing a game of “Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts” the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star, 24, asked Styles, “Which songs on your last album were about me?” Instead of answering, the “Adore You” singer decided to eat the cod sperm that the model had selected for him.
She later asked the Dunkirk actor if he’d ever seen an episode of her family’s reality show, to which he replied that he’d watched the “one where you’re eating salads in the kitchen and then you all were shouting at each other.”
Jenner and Styles were briefly linked in late 2013. In December 2015, they were spotted on vacation in Anguilla together, which sparked reconciliation rumors. Then, in September 2016, the pair spent three consecutive days together.
A source, however, told Us Weekly at the time that the duo were just “friends” and after they split they “didn’t stop being friends.”
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