Highlights: Khalid, ‘American Teen’


★★★★

Khalid, American Teen © RCAUp-and-coming teen R&B artist Khalid impresses on his highly-anticipated debut album, ‘American Teen.’

Teen R&B singer Khalid is quickly becoming one of the hottest names in R&B. It’s amazing considering he’s still a kid – 19 years old! Ahead of his highly-anticipated debut album, American Teen, he has had a mighty promo campaign, issuing a jaw-dropping seven singles ahead of the album.  The biggest single, Location,” gave the singer a true breakthrough single, setting him up for a potentially successful career. The enjoyable American Teen showcases his lofty potential. 

“American Teen”

American Teenopens American Teen bubbly and exuberant in sound.  The single borrows from 80s pop and urban cues as its basis. Set in major key, the optimism is formidable.  Vocally, while Khalid is firmly invested, without forcing things. Lyrically, the vibes are positive, as Khalid explores life and the great opportunities ahead of him.

“‘Cause this is our year / So wake me up in the Spring / While I’m high off my American dream / We don’t always say what we mean / It’s the life of an American teen.”

Ultimately, the opener sets the tone for the album.

“Young Dumb & Broke” 

“Young Dumb & Broke” keeps the momentum rolling on American Teen. Khalid’s vocals are robust, characterized by distinctiveness.  Where Khalid didn’t sound as thick on “American Teen,” he contrasts here with a more biting, grittier sound.  “Young Dumb & Broke” superbly balances old and new schools, featuring production cues from both.  This record is infectious from the jump.

“Location” 

“Location” gave Khalid his breakthrough single.  The best attribute of “Location” is the voice. No one who sounds like the teen artist, who’s in his own lane. Superbly produced, beyond the slick production work, this is a well-rounded song, with Khalid sharing the desires of his heart:

“Send me your location, let’s / Focus on communicating, ‘cause / I just need the time and place to come through…/ Send me your location, let’s / Ride the vibrations / I don’t need nothing else but you.”

Essentially, this is young love, and a new, unfamiliar experience for the teen, as well as his boo.  Therefore, the questions, hormones, feelings, all run rampant.  Teenage love, as well as love in general, can be characterized as a cluster-fuck, but he is convincing on this highlight. 

“Saved”

On “Saved,” Khalid continues to showcase incredible maturity.  His voice remains awe-inspiring.  Arguably, the subject of “Saved” is both youthful and applicable to adults as well.  Essentially, he is hopeful that his ex is going to call him and reignite the relationship. In the big scheme of things, this is childish – more fairy tale and wishful thinking than realistic.  That said, young or old, who doesn’t reminisce back to a past relationship and ask ‘what if’ questions and so forth?

“But I’ll keep your number saved / ‘Cause I hope one day you’ll get the sense to call me / I’m hoping that you’ll say / You’re missing me the way I’m missing you.”

“8TEEN”

“8TEEN” is a welcome change of pace after a trio of brokenhearted songs from Khalid. This feels like a companion cut to the title track, embracing a similar overall sound.  On the bright, synth-driven “8TEEN,” he reflects on being young and dumb.  The signature line comes on the chorus:

“So let’s do all the stupid shit that young kids do.” 

“Cold Blooded”

“Cold Blooded” adds more oomph to American Teen, following “Let’s Go” and “Hopeless.” In addition to swoon-worthy production, the melody of “Cold Blooded” stands out, particular the pre-chorus.

“And I feel your fear / Surrounded by your skin / You feel my heartbeat vibrate so violent / Inside of your head / I see it in your eyes (see it in your eyes) / That you’re no good for me / And love is blind.”

“Shot Down”

Shot Downis clearly the crème de la crème of American Teen.  It resides in the same league as breakthrough single “Location.” Throwback, yet fresh, Khalid continues to bless the listener with his soulful, distinctive instrument, singing about over infatuation.

“I been through it whole / I’ve been through the worst / But I never knew how much our love could hurt / Over my family I put you first…”

Final Thoughts

All in all, Khalid impresses on his highly-anticipated debut album, ‘American Teen.’ Throughout its course, his voice is what shines the most.  In addition to his vocal maturity, his youthful persona and excellent production work provide a lift.  American Teen ends up being a few minutes (or songs) too long at 54 minutes, but all in all, there’s little to complain about.  This is a respectable, well-conceived debut.

Gems: “American Teen,” “Young Dumb & Broke,” “Location,” “Saved,” “Cold Blooded” & “Shot Down”

Khalid • American Teen • RCA • Release: 3.3.17
Photo Credit: RCA

 

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