Katherine Mickewich

Many musical powerhouses had comebacks and album releases this year, but none shone as bright as those by new artists. 2017 was the year of the up and coming musician. Artists like Dua Lipa, Post Malone, Sza, and Cardi B were wildly popular this year and had been either relegated to niche fanbases or unrecognizable talents the year prior. None however had quite the impact that Khalid did, a giant in this new artist category.

Khalid grew up performing in musicals and singing with his mother around the house. However he owes much of his musical and emotional maturity to the death of his father when he was very young, having to handle grief that many of his peers had not and may never have to endure. When Khalid moved to New York when he was older he began posting his music to Soundcloud and finagled connections that led him to working with powerhouses like Drake and Travis Scott. Though 2017 was a huge year for Khalid, he had the biggest chart success in 2016, with his single Location hitting number 2 on the Billboard charts. This success spurred on anticipation for his debut album ‰American Teen‰’ which peaked at number 4 on the U.S. charts. Khalid‰’s meteoric rise to success is undeniably due in small part to the company he keeps, making friends with the social media superstar Kylie Jenner who played ‰Location‰’ on her snapchat story garnering major attention online. Khalid features on songs with Kendrick Lamar, Future, and Logic, and toured with pop queen Lorde last year.

‰American Teen‰’ features dancey beats, eighties synths, and storytelling in a way that can only be characterized as having Khalid‰’s style. What I think makes Khalid so special though is how he so artfully is able to quantify the experience of the lonely teenager in America. Perhaps not just the lonely teenager, but every teenager. Maybe these are even one in the same. Most of the songs exist in a marijuana and alcohol infused, yet somehow deeply introspective and emotional headspace. Some of Khalid‰’s standout moments in ‰American Teen‰’ for me being obviously ‰Location‰’, but also ‰Coaster‰’and ‰Young Dumb and Broke‰’. For an album from a new artist to do so well with no features really shows how much he as an artist speaks to American youth. But perhaps, if the loneliness that emanates from the core of the album resonates so well with adolescents and beyond, that speaks more to American culture and the way teens are interacting in 2017 than anything else.