Khalid’s debut album, American Teen, is one of my personal favorite albums. Featuring hits like “8TEEN,” “Location,” “Young Dumb & Broke,” and many others, this album truly helped Khalid make his mark on contemporary music. Khalid was a military kid, traveling all over the U.S. and Germany for six years. American Teen captures his high school life, which included spending three years in Carthage, New York, and his senior year in El Paso, Texas. Fresh out of high school, he released “Location”, which was an instant hit. Later on, he was featured in songs and continued releasing singles, ultimately leading up to his album American Teen, which solidified his presence in the modern day music scene. While the album has many highs and many hits, that doesn’t discredit his other songs and the charm it has.
In this article I will be giving the meaning of the song to help the reader understand the song better, and giving it a rating out of 10.
Khalid starts his album with the song “American Teen,” as he uses his experiences growing up traveling the world to show his maturity and how his experiences have shaped his view on life. While emphasizing that he doesn’t like the current state of his country, his pride comes from his ability to express his individuality. In a Genius interview, he said, “…just because I’m not proud about America, it doesn’t mean that I can’t be proud to be an American.” He also dives into youth, and how we are still growing, saying, “We don’t always say what we mean, when we’re high off our American Teen.” This lyric is found at the end of the song and captures the meaning of the song beautifully. As we’re young, we don’t know what we want. Do we really like this crowd we’re with? Do we really want to be a doctor or lawyer? We might say what we want, but in reality, we don’t know. Ultimately, this song is about growing up and finding oneself. For me, this song is a great opener and gives a youthful sense to the rest of the album, I give this song a 10/10.
“Young Dumb & Broke” is the second song on the album and displays Khalid’s youthful thoughts on high school love. The words young, dumb, and broke can be found throughout the song and accurately describe high school kids. With most not being adults still developing, and not being able to hold a job to make money, kids find themselves doing things “in the name of love” or “in the name of fun” when, in reality, they’re stupid things to do. One key part of this song is Khalid’s thoughts on high school relationships. He always saw that these “high school sweethearts” always end the moment they graduate or get to college. He thought, what was the point of commitment for him; he has the rest of his life to find himself out and find someone. He doesn’t have to commit to anyone. He can use his time towards other passions. This song has different stories and meanings, and I give it a 9/10
Following “Young Dumb & Broke” is “Location.” This song covers the idea of how the digital era affects communication, especially in relationships. The lyric in the chorus, “Send me your location / let’s focus on communicating,” is used so that instead of texting each other, they can meet up with each other, and communicate and convey their feelings that way. He found himself being “played” or wasting time with people, simply because he didn’t know any better. He had been in very few relationships, and the high school ideas of relationships is certainly not an accurate portrayal of them. He knew if people would communicate their feelings, he wouldn’t have to be “screwed” over or have to waste time for something that’s not coming. If people would meet in person, they can grow intimately and emotionally with each other and “vibe together.” This song covers an interesting take on the modern day, and I give it a solid 9/10.
Next is “Another Sad Love Song,” which shows Khalid’s experiences through a faulty relationship. He starts it off with the lyric, “I’m not the best at showing my emotions, you cut me deep and you left me wide open.” There is some irony in this lyric, mainly because he wasn’t good at showing his emotions, but he definitely understood how he felt, and this is a theme for the rest of the song. There is often a disconnect between someone and their emotions, whether they aren’t feeling them or struggle at showing them. This is definitely found in relationships as well, where Khalid says, relationships “only last as long as hard as you are working for it.” In this song, Khalid wants to make it a breakup song, primarily the song you play during the drive after. The lyrics of the chorus, “Bridges they are burning. Lover, I’m worried, tables they are turning. Lover, I am hurting”show his pain and his vulnerability.One of my favorites on the album, it would be a sin to give it anything less than a 9.5/10.
The next song is “Saved,” which describes how Khalid, who was in a relationship in New York, but had to move to Texas, and his significant other decided to end the relationship. The meaning of “Saved” is how he saves the girl’s number because he cannot let go of her that easily. Time goes slower, and he forgets that they aren’t together because he regrets their decision. To avoid pain, he got rid of her pictures, social media, so he wouldn’t be reminded, but he always kept her number, so that one day he could still call her or she would call, and he could answer. He knew that what they had was good, so to find someone else would be hard. There’s also some anger in him, because of this he felt that he was the only one who cared in the relationship, and that she wouldn’t be able to find someone like him again. Khalid’s vulnerability and truth in this song make it far better, and with the next song coming up, I give it a 8.5/10.
Following the breakup, he makes the next song “Coaster.” He describes his instability and how he is having a hard time moving on, unlike his ex-lover. He fights with himself, who wanted her so badly and has to move on. He feels like he’s on a roller coaster. At one point he feels like he’s just coasting through life, and then he drops and everything goes downhill. This is found in the chorus, “Coasting, roller coasting, In my emotions oh,” His emotions aren’t stable and how he realizes that the relationship often never went both ways. As the song progresses, he slowly starts to realize she wasn’t the one for him, and while he’s not over her completely, he’s moving on and thinking of her less. An overall short song, but with an impactful meaning that gives it so much replayability, and with very relatable lyrics, the song is an 8/10.
“8TEEN” is arguably my personal favorite song on the album. Khalid wants to capture the youthful energies of being eighteen. In the chorus he talks about being friends with someone. They would party together and do dumb things together in high school. In high school you have young love, make a ton of mistakes, and lose people. It’s filled with experience, and are memories you make with friends. People you share your emotions with, you grow with at such a crucial time in your life. You see them later in life, and you wish to be that young again, to live those experiences again because you don’t talk to them. It points to a sad truth. Usually, you won’t see these kids once you graduate. Everyone goes their separate ways. Eighteen is the tipping point of change. This song is very catchy and is very mellow and chill, which adds to my personal liking of it. I rate it a 10/10, and I highly recommend listening to it.
Let’s Go is the song that comes after 8TEEN and reiterates the freedom of being young and to focus on the journey ahead of you. You don’t need to have a destination in life right now, you can still be young and live. Let go of the sorrows and the things holding you down. With Khalid, he often focused on what people said about him, with the lyric, “You got too much time to waste, focusing on what people say.” I personally really like the meaning of the song, as someone who is growing up, I want to live now. I’m still young and I have a life ahead of me, so why not enjoy it. The song it self is a bit repetitive of previous songs which happens in this point in the album. The lyrics are also a bit iffy, as sometimes in order to rhyme he doesn’t end the word or pronounce it fully. I give the song a 7.5/10Hopeless is another one of my personal favorites on the album. Khalid describes his struggle with romance and how he isn’t the one for relationships. He reminisces on his past relationships and how they left him and how he’s stuck with broken promises. With a short song and a simple meaning, it isn’t many people’s first choice, but I personally like the beat behind it and it’s catchiness. I personally give it a 8.5/10
“Cold-Blooded” is the tenth song in the album, and Khalid finds himself in a toxic relationship, with the girl being “cold-blooded.” The girl he is with has a coldness toward him, and he thinks it’s due to a past relationship. She’s cold-blooded because when she’s warm, the relationship is good, and Khalid gives his heart to warm her, but eventually it isn’t enough, so he finds himself fighting for something that is affecting him negatively. She treats him poorly, but he can’t walk away because he needs her love or wants to help her. This song has a great metaphor, but it is kind of repetitive. It’s not a bad song, but it’s one more song about love, and I think his previous songs are better. For this song, I give it a 7/10.
“Winter” is the next song, and it follows what seems to be a breakup with the girl who was cold-blooded. He references how he is becoming her, and how in the winter, when they broke up, he had become cold-blooded, too. In the chorus he says, “Days get harder in November, love grows colder in the winter.”This is most likely referencing cold-blooded animals and how they stop moving in the winter. This girl has made him emotionally unavailable and his love has been frozen. He hopes that the girl remembers the love he gave her. Even though the breakup has messed him up, he wants to work on himself before he moves on. He wants a fresh start and to figure himself out and be warm again. Listening to this song in depth changed my personal thoughts on the song. I give the song a 7.5/10
Next is “Therapy,” in which Khalid relates a girl to drugs and therapy, a way to cope with his problems. He starts off the song by saying these relationships are like drugs and both people are happy in a relationship; however, whether it’s healthy or not is still unknown. Either way, they use each other for joy to get rid of their problems. With Khalid, he’s not one for relationships, and in this instance in particular, he contradicts himself constantly. The lyric, “I’m not one for relationships, it’s overrated,”shows his denial of how much he actually needs this girl to cope. Once again whether it’s healthy or not, he says he won’t get too attached, but he does, and this girl is the one thing that keeps him together. This song brings a new light to Khalid and it’s very well-made and written. However, I always felt it was contradictory. That could be one of the aspects of the album; however, since he focuses on the fact that as you’re young you don’t always know what you want. I give it an 8/10.
“Keep Me” is a song about a crush with a friend. Often putting himself through uncomfortable moments to keep her happy, he realizes that it wouldn’t work. He says “keep me in your life”, possibly saying that he knows it won’t work but he still wants to be more than friends. There’s something about this girl that attracts her to him. This girl also has a boyfriend or ex-lover of some sort, and Khalid thinks he would treat her better. He just wants to be an option for her, so they can have a chance. This song is a change of pace from the rest of the album and is open to interpretation. It’s not a personal favorite and a little repetitive, so I give it a 6.5/10.
“Shot Down” is one of the last songs in the album and references the love he has in the previous song. He’s continuously falling in love with this girl over and over again and finding something new in her. He is willing to do everything for her and give her anything, but that isn’t enough for her. She is looking somewhere else, for someone else. This knocks him down and he doesn’t understand why she doesn’t look his way. Compared to keep me, which is what the song builds off of, this song has better lyrics, and a better beat. I would give it a 7/10.
The last song on the album is “Angels.” The song talks about divine intervention in his life, and he relates it to angels. He has confidence that they will help him and get him through tough days. All throughout this album, he has gone through tough times and these angels have always helped him. The song is self-explanatory, and I think is a great way to end an album filled with teen struggles. I rate it an 8/10.
Overall, I give the album a 7.5 out of 10. Even though it’s one of my favorites, it is nowhere near perfect. Being a teenager, a lot of the themes fit for me. However, the album is sometimes repetitive and the lyrics aren’t always there. The meaning, however, is great, and I recommend many people to listen to this album.