The introduction of this first track never fails to evoke a sense of familiarity and excitement in listeners. The subtle alarm clock sound in the background before the lyrics pays homage to the universal nagging nuisance and the dreaded moment felt by all lazy teenagers who fail to make it to that first-period class. As Khalid explores the common sense of pride felt by all kids growing up in this country now connected by social media, listeners can relate to the constant anticipation of spring or the end of one's school year. Graduating seniors, in particular, tend to take their simplistic, idyllic surroundings for granted. The rushing of all of the seemingly minuscule events around us in anticipation of our next major stage in our life seems to be a common mistake of antsy teenagers.
"Young Dumb & Broke"
On the contrast of many songs on this album, this simplistic piece bluntly puts into perspective that all of the little intricate worlds of the listeners that are growing up and listening to this have much more in common than they realize. My takeaway from this is that our yearning for companionship and an end to this powerless age should not be taken so seriously. We must simply embrace that we have a lot to learn in this crazy life and try to navigate our journey as these naive, impressionable individuals while having the best time possible.
Khalid's "Location" centers around the evolving technology in our world and its impact on our interpersonal relationships. The singer himself admitted this song is about the search for a "real genuine lover" and the rarity of this authentic connection. However, the narrator of this song seems to be lucky enough to have found someone who has captured the majority of his waking thoughts. The intense feelings felt by the singer drive him to constantly feel the need to be in the company of this special person in an obsessive manner and seek them out through all means possible.
"Another Sad Love Song"
The album takes a bittersweet turn with "Another Sad Love Song." The lyrics confront the difficulty of addressing the singer's feelings regarding the tumultuous relationship that he is parting ways from. The chaotic unstable arena that is high school assures short-lived yet emotionally turbulent connections to form. In the blink of an eye, lovers can turn on each other and abandon something they invested so much time into building, as illustrated by the melancholy themes accompanying this song. Even the title, "Another Sad Love Song," seems to be acknowledging the normality of the unfortunate occurrence of a cherished bond coming to an end, and the collateral damage following it.
"Saved" concurrently addresses the devastating aftermath of young love and the conflicted feelings of an individual experiencing heartache. Many can agree it is extremely difficult to muster up the pride to address a former partner; therefore, this leads to the constant yearning for them to initiate communication. In this era of communication, it is often hard for people to forget someone when they carry constant reminders of them, including their phone contact. The lying potential of still possessing their number can prove to be tempting, due to the lingering wonder if this person's ex shares these same feelings of longing.
"Coaster" additionally details the powerless feeling one experiences while attempting to rebuild their life following heartbreak. The array of emotions accompanying being so hurt is accurately characterized here. As they say, healing is not linear and the eventual acceptance of the end of a relationship is preceded by immense amounts of turmoil and despair.
The overall mood of Khalid's album picks up with the inclusion of this track next. A personal favorite of mine, "8Teen" is a feel-good piece that discusses the many simple components of joy that surround the life of a young person. The song combines nostalgia, restriction, and admiration for an idealized lover. Khalid acknowledges the beauty of youth and the lack of responsibilities people at this age have while attempting to get away with as much as possible with the one who seems to make it all worth it.
Rather than singing about the depressing sentiment following a breakup, Khalid once again dedicates a song about embracing the fun-loving and careless mentality of himself and friends. The freedom of finally graduating school and holding no true responsibility leads to this elation and excitement to take advantage of the time with those he cares about. We can all learn from this mindset and appreciate the culmination of our hard work while enjoying ourselves.
Khalid seems to be finally accepting his lack of control over love and the one he cares most about while allowing himself to grieve the loss of what once was. From witnessing those around me undergoing painful breakups, I've realized eventually everyone arrives at the point where they are able to let go, but until then, they must learn to live with the endless unanswered questions and what-ifs.
Branding an individual "Cold Blooded" seems to be serving as a euphemism for the culprit of a toxic relationship. The shocking prominence of these emotionally abusive relationships that leave a victim drained in our generation is exemplified throughout the piece as the singer admits, "love is blind." Sadly, this phenomenon of teens feeling unloved and taken for granted is certainly an aspect of our culture that needs to be addressed. I am sure the ruthless nature of the partner who strips the individual of their sanity sadly resonates with those who had to endure being with such selfish partners.
The poor soul in this song experiencing betrayal and hurt for the first time expresses their desperation and loneliness in a way that can sparks familiarity in many aching listeners. Isolation does not help the fact that the seasons are concurrently changing, bringing on the cold and darkness. The times shared with the one they loved clearly impacted them and left them with no choice but to insecurely speculate how much they really meant to the other person.
The metaphors used in "Therapy" explicitly depict the loss of control and normality one feels while trying to move on with their life. Particularly for those who have never experienced these feelings before, yearning for the one who abandoned them and the need to maintain willpower to resist giving in to their sentiments is extremely strong. At a time where one has not experienced or seen many other parts of the world, the end of a romance can seem like the end of any possibility for happiness.
Another particular favorite of mine, "Keep Me" is an extremely nostalgic and beautifully crafted piece. Khalid reminisces about his shared times with a lover before their parting. As he acknowledges the inevitability of their split, he solely requests that his partner cherishes his memory and lessons that came from their time together. A bittersweet recollection of their shared memories prompts the singer to reveal the extent of the mutual impact they had on each other's lives, which is essentially the purpose of relationships during this early stage in life.
While couples tend to idealistically plan their relationship to last a lifetime, the reality of the majority of young love scenarios result in devastating endings, yet priceless insight and lessons. Our interpersonal relationships shape us so integrally, and the singer is hoping his partner chooses not to discard the countless memories they shared and qualities developed as a result of their meeting. Listeners can learn the benefits of ended relationships and learn to look back on them while shedding a more positive light. Realizing the necessity of these experiences in one's own personal development as an adult helps to heal the emotional wounds. The singer can maturely admit the admiration and dedication he once possessed toward her while finding a new place for her in his heart.
"Shot Down" reveals the vulnerability of an individual opening their heart at this age and the common tendency of questioning their own worth in a relationship. Teens are often irrational due to their brain not yet being fully developed, which carries over to their behavior in their relationships. Impulsivity and infatuation lead smitten kids to prioritize the person they love and depend on these fleeting connections for happiness and fulfillment. Evidently, it is very dangerous to trust another human being with all of these emotions.
Despite still being so young, unfortunately, millions of young people are currently undergoing traumatic events and their own hardships. While it is difficult to be equipped to deal with such scenarios at such a mere age, Khalid exemplifies his own way of coping in this song by describing the feelings of hope and faith that allow him to persevere through these tragedies. Everyone has their own form of angels they envision to pull them through darkness and inspire them. Being instilled with hope is so vital to surviving through upsetting circumstances; Khalid details the majestic figures bringing him light on this very meaningful track.
Regardless of what the listener may be going through, they can take away the importance of fortifying their defenses against factors that deter them from their happiness. The outro sound of the alarm going off for the final time signifying the end of the album coincides with the beginning of the introduction track in a very polished, nostalgic manner. It was a subtle way to pay tribute to the culmination of the lyrically brilliant album.
So with that, I hope you enjoyed my first article. Writing has always been a central passion in my life and even led me to start off college as an English major. The inspiration for this article came to me as I was blasting this album through my house, much to my parents' dismay. After seeing this talented artist live at the Governor's Ball and endlessly repeating these tracks during every car ride with all of my friends during senior year, I guess you can say "American Teen" evokes a sense of nostalgia in me. The association between these songs and the culmination of my high school career was also fortified by the convenient timing of the album's release during the time I was beginning my last lap of high school and starting to come to terms with closing that chapter of my life. So a big thank you to Khalid for managing to beautifully capture exactly what it is like to live life through the lens of a nervous, starry-eyed, and smitten American teen.