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LONDON (Reuters) - Best-selling boy band One Direction released a surprise first single as a foursome on Friday, two days after former member Zayn Malik announced a new record deal as solo artist.
"Drag Me Down" follows November's "Night Changes" and is the first single the group, which came to prominence on British televised singing competition "The X Factor" in 2010, has put out since Malik said he was quitting the band in March.
The foursome -- Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Niall Horan and Louis Tomlinson -- posted a video message on Twitter announcing the new single.
"It's the first song from the new album that we've been working very, very hard on," Payne said in the video.
In a separate post on his Twitter feed, Payne called the move "a bit of a surprise".
The news came after Malik himself tweeted a picture on Wednesday of him signing papers at RCA Records.
"I guess I never explained why I left, it was for this moment to be given the opportunity to show you who I really am! #realmusic #RCA," he wrote.
Malik quit after five years with One Direction, saying he wanted to "be a normal 22-year old who is able to relax and have some private time out of the spotlight".
Reporting By Marie-Louise Gumuchian