If you are anything like the average high schooler, May is the time of year where productivity declines and grades matter the most. AP exams are over and finals week is fast approaching. As a junior, my personal stress level never seems to decline. Balancing exams, grades, studying for the ACT/SAT, maintaining a social life and thinking about college decisions are all battling for attention in a persistent struggle within me.
Two weeks ago, I remember blindly stumbling through the Browse tab in Spotify. After about an hour and a half of exploration I struck a pot of gold, and his name is Khalid. Through a variation of soothing but upbeat melodies, uniquely textured vocals and piercing lyrics, Khalid’s first album “American Teen” grabbed my soul and has not yet let go. The 19-year-old Fort Stewart, Georgia, native, fresh out of El Paso’s Americas High School Class of 2016, Khalid illustrates his personal journey through pain via 15 different songs.
During half of the track list, Khalid seems to be grieving over a relationship that did not end the way he expected. This is especially apparent in his song “Coaster,” where he repeats variations of “You weren’t the one for me” 12 different times. In other songs like “Therapy,” “Shot Down,” and “Cold Blooded,” Khalid artfully illustrates his vulnerability, hurt, and complicated thought processes. Stylistically, the pulsating beats and warm but melancholic composition of these songs screams slow R&B and/or Soul.
In contrast, the other half resembles an ode to healing, taking care of yourself, and living freely. In “Let’s Go,” Khalid tells his listeners to “Leave your sorrow on the table [and] Pick up your worries and throw them out the window.” This theme shows up again in “Another Sad Love Song,” “Keep Me,” and “8TEEN.” It does not seem to be coincidence that these tracks are upbeat and energizing, almost resembling mainstream Pop.
Khalid utilizes multiple genres and themes in a way that shows his versatility and depth while still remaining relatable. Listening to the entire album in order, you will notice that the tempo and message varies from song to song. This complete blend of joy and sorrow is representative of the ups and downs that everyone experiences. Every single human goes through adversity, but the key is to reflect, think positively, and overcome. If the stress of school and planning for the future is overwhelming you, I would highly recommend preparing a warm cup of coffee, closing your eyes, and joining Khalid in “shak[ing] away all the stress off [your] shoulders” on “American Teen.”
Faith, 16, is a junior who loves music and plays the guitar and ukulele every day.