The subtle art of One Direction hair maintenance requires a degree of central planning unseen since the Soviet era. Management keeps a tight rein on the boy's haircut habits (though Liam may have disobeyed them this fall) for good reason. Change styles too often, and none will have the chance to become iconic. Keep things the same, and fans will get bored.
So far, the lads have walked the close line between the two extremes quite skillfully. Liam and Louis have both ditched the drab Justinian swoops of their X Factor days, the former stripping things down to their most basic, the latter going for a series of increasingly intricate coifs. Niall ditched the bleach (so 2005!) and adopted a more authentic blondeness. And Harry—well, why mess with perfection?
Unfortunately Zayn may have just given us our first 1D follicle misstep. His sky-high pompadour, complete with Bride of Frakenstein-style blonde streak was one of the best style developments of 2012, and we looked forward to following Zayn's development into full-on Hot Topic mode. But now that dream is dead. For One Direction's visit to Japan, Zayn has abandoned the Elvis look for a shaggy all-black look. Words strain to describe how bad this new haircut is. It's like something close to an anime character. Or maybe Joan Jett? Either way, it's quite literally not a good look.
This doesn't appear to be like that one time Zayn forgot to gel his hair. The new look is probably here to stay. Luckily, Zayn seems to have an antidote for the revulsion his new haircut undoubtedly inspires: Lots and lots of hats.