Khalid’s Free Spirit

New Album Drop Has Fans Shook

Melina Scott, Editor

On April 5th, Khalid officially dropped his new album, Free Spirit, and honestly it’s impossible to pick a favorite song. In his debut album, American Teen, the songs were good but often felt repetitive, which made songs like “Location” end up standing out with their more unique sound. In Free Spirit, however, the diversity between different songs is undeniably more prominent, and makes it hard to listen to just one. Musically, the chord structures and beats are very different, but even listening to this album without a musical background is a delight.

The themes of this album range from young love to heartbreak, and Khalid even manages to sing about the drunken party trope in a way that seems gentler and kinder than so many modern day artists rapping about Gucci belts and hoes. The album includes recent singles including “Self,” “Don’t Pretend,” and “My Bad,” and strangely “Better” from 2018’s Suncity appearance. Though these songs were introduced earlier on, they still fit well into the grain of the album, and go right along with the young spirit motif that appears in at least half of the songs on this album. For example, “Don’t Pretend” features lyrics like: “Keeping my phone alive//Hoping that you call this time…” If that isn’t a great representation of the mentality behind waiting for a text back, what is? The song is also one of two more acoustically based songs on the album, the other being “Saturday Nights,” which also has a strong connection to young adult life. Khalid sings: “All the things that I know //That your parents don’t//They don’t care like I do…” Khalid has certainly made his audience clear, and the popularity and profit surrounding this album has proved he knows what he’s doing. Perhaps the song with the most young love imagery is “Twenty One,” with lyrics, “You’ve been drinking//thinking about letting go//lay with me under the bleachers…” which represents the predominant struggle in many teens’ lives of trying to find their place through love and happiness.

In contrast to the young love mentality in many of the songs on this album, he juxtaposes that idea with one of heartbreak and failure. In songs like “Heaven” and “Bluffin’,” which actually sound quite similar structurally, he questions the stability of relationships and the insecurity that can come along with them. With lyrics like “Are we broken?//Lost in emotion…” (“Bluffin”) he questions how real love can be, and whether it’s worth it at all. More personal insecurities come along with his song “Self” where he questions his inner demons and how he is portrayed to society, something that many artists would reasonably struggle with.

Personally, my favorite song on the album is “Paradise” because it is unlike any other songs on the album in its unique sound and rhythms. If there’s a way to make a song sound like a desert mirage, Khalid has found out how to do that in “Paradise.” Perhaps it’s only rival in terms of unique sound is “Intro” which has a nebulous orchestral sound that gets listeners excited for the album. “Intro” lacks a definite verse chorus structure, which is an intriguing choice in Khalid’s part. It also worth mentioning that he has a duet with John Mayer on “Outta My Head,” adding to a long list of past collaborations with artists including Billie Eilish, Alessia Cara and Martin Garrix.  

Overall, the album has definitely exceeded the expectations of Khalid’s listeners, and calls upon several different motifs of young love, pain, and questioning of self-image that really captures the attention of his target audience of young people. The different rhythmic choices and distinctive elements create a whole new sound for Khalid, and it’s certainly a sound that’s going to sell.

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