GRAPHIC BY EMMA CHANG
By EMMA CHANG
Can we just “Talk” about how Khalid’s “Free Spirit” came “Alive” in his newest extended play (EP)?
Debuting on April 5, Free Spirit is the newest masterpiece by rising R&B singer-songwriter, Khalid. At only age twenty-one, Khalid has never failed to mesmerize audiences and the entertainment industry with his captivating tracks.
Free Spirit is an intimate collection of anthems that delve into the world of adolescent vulnerability and profound emotional depths of the experience. Similar to his previous EPs, Free Spirit aptly captures the poignant turmoil of a modern love story in seventeen short, soulful melodies.
Since releasing American Teen and Suncity, Khalid has accomplished countless insurmountable feats and this album is yet another one. Currently, Free Spirit resides at number one on the Billboard Top Charts, Khalid’s first number one release, and has received thousands of streams worldwide. Needless to say, there isn’t any “Bad Luck” ahead for this singer-songwriter.
Free Spirit kicks off with a lull and tender ballad, titled “Intro,” recounting an anecdote of what appears to be a message about his own experience in love, vocalizing the way “love [does not] come easy especially when you’re loving me.” By the end, he resolves that he has learned to put himself first and has now found his way. In true Khalid fashion, the track presents a scenario that audiences can relate to and find solace in, one of the most notable traits that can be found in all Khalid’s songs.
Following “Intro” is a lighthearted tune dubbed, “Bad Luck.” The song follows the theme of triumph over emotional fermentation and depicts the concept of acceptance and self-love. “Bad Luck” especially presents something that each and every individual can empathize with, highlighting the nature of being alone and at the hands of fake friends, lovers, and of course, bad luck.
The third song of Free Spirit, entitled “My Bad,” recalls a miscommunication between lovers. Upon first listen, the song appears to illustrate an unwanted attraction between the two, but soon takes a more heartfelt turn as Khalid sings, “Gave you all of my time, my love, you’re followin’ the signs, but you’re followin’ the wrong signs, my love.” Unlike some of the songs on his EP, “My Bad” explores the other, more accurate side of love and modern relationships that arguably hits home more than his other tracks. Although many of us look toward romanticism as a supplement for something greater, “My Bad” is a stirring and fervent anthem that reminds us all of the reality we live, in the best way possible.
Following “My Bad” comes “Better.” Having already been released on Suncity, “Better” offers nothing more than intangible solace in a familiar tune. Since its debut, the single has dominated the Billboard charts—ranking amongst some of the best in pop and R&B. Not to mention, the song’s music video has received over 241 million views and is one of Khalid’s most popular and well-known tracks.
In contrast to the hits before it, “Better” spotlights the euphoric feeling between him and another who are “just friends [except] when nobody’s around” and sings light-heartedly about how “nothing feels better than this.” Without a doubt, “Better” has found its place at the top and definitely won’t be coming down anytime soon.
Next on Free Spirit comes “Talk.” As its simple, but sound title suggests, the track is about missed communication and exploring growth in a relationship. On a deeper scale, the upbeat and funky song conveys the vulnerability that many of us open up ourselves to in relationships, as he sings, “Can’t we just talk? Talk out where we’re going before we get lost” and “I’ve never felt like this before, I apologize if I’m moving too far.” Despite its meaningful lyrics, “Talk” also serves as a smooth beat for audiences to dance to with its unique sound and style. Khalid gave us a taste of Free Spirit after releasing “Talk” as a single that soon enough became on of his most popular songs. Aside from that, “Talk’s” eccentric music video was unlike anything Khalid has ever released, with its almost unique colors and diverse and talented cast.
The sixth song of the album is entitled “Right Back.” Just like “Talk,” the song has a soulful and groovy beat with effervescent lyrics to match. In “Right Back,” Khalid sings about how he just wants to get right back to the way things had been before and wait patiently for their love, rather than “falling off track.” This song is also one many individuals can relate to with its simple, but blatant meaning and not to mention, lively chorus.
Up next is “Don’t Pretend” featuring hip-hop artist SAFE. The song is a very mellow and downplayed in comparison to the tracks before it, beginning with singular guitar strumming and consistent tempo. Lyrically, Khalid reminises someone he used to love has yet to move on from, despite how they were never “together” and her respective colder behavior. By the end of the second verse, Khalid sings, “Love stays still and I’m frozen… I guess I gotta be a man, I tried as hard as I can” before soulfully concluding with the solemn repetition of the chorus. Out of all the songs on Free Spirit, “Don’t Pretend” is one of the most extraordinary and relatable. In spite of our many efforts to avoid doing so, most of us have romanticized something that wasn’t there or pined over another individual who might not have ever felt the same.
Track 8, “Paradise” offers a more passionate and heartfelt R&B anthem that conveys a subtle message about the responsibilities we all feel and the little moments we can find amongst all the chaos because despite our efforts, “life don’t stop the more we pray.” After “Paradise” comes the phenomenal tune, “Hundred.” Once more, Khalid’s album takes a somber turn with “Hundred’ and its profound lyrics about moving on from the past and facing the road ahead. As its name suggests, Khalid also sings about how he has made it past one “Hundred” days and is ready to accept all of the things people want and expect from him—yet another motif that audiences can deeply relate to.
Free Spirit continues with “Outta My Head,” a duet with pop sensation, John Mayer, and “Free Spirit.” While the former is an intimate ballad about a “friend” whom Khalid “can’t get out of [his] head” and the attraction that exists between them, “Free Spirit” conveys freedom and finding yourself. Both songs are unique and were exceptionally executed with catchy beats and also rank among the album’s most popular tunes.
The twelfth and thirteenth songs of the album are titled, “Twenty One” and “Bluffin.’” In “Twenty One,” Khalid perfectly captures the spirit of how it feels like to be discovering yourself and truly beginning yourself in cheerful song. As most audiences can empathize with, Khalid deems his own self as the cause of his suffering but does not fall short in poetically reminding us all that “to win this fight, [we] need to change” and to keep holding on. On the other hand, “Bluffin’” is a touching ditty that also epitomizes modern love and the journey lovers undergo as they become lost in emotion and one another. The song’s slow tempo and passionate lyrics incomparably capture the true meaning of Free Spirit.
The fourteenth song on the album entitled, “Self,” is a raw and emotional track about the inner struggles that every individual faces and suggests the importance of self-acceptance and reflection. Although “Self” does not have the most lyrics, its concise, but meaningful word choice is what makes it memorable and gives audiences something special to take away— to “be a flower in a garden and be born with the sun.”
Reaching the end are “Alive” and “Heaven.” Despite their simple labels, both tracks are sensational, breathtaking ballads that exemplify our spiritual beliefs and the sense of life we all feel through our “consequences and mistakes.” In stark contrast to those before it, these two songs take on a very solemn theme that without a doubt, retain the soul and passion of Khalid’s talents.
Finally, Free Spirit concludes with track no. 17, “Saturday Nights.” Prior to Free Spirit’s debut, the song was released on Khalid’s iconic EP, Suncity. “Saturday Nights’ illustrates the imperfections in life and growing up, not afraid to include lyrics like, “Newbury cigarillos, swishers make my throat hurt, rolling OCB’s on the side for me, light ’em up and let ’em both burn” and more notably, “Family feuds, saying Mom’s confused, I’m for sure she doesn’t wanna learn, my daddy’s gone, say he’s never home, and wishin’ only makes it worse.” For many days, “Saturday Nights” topped the charts and became one of the artist’s most popular songs. Its melodic tempo and catchy theme perfectly fit our lives, while creating a vulnerable symphony that is without a doubt, perfect for listening to on a Saturday night.
All in all, Khalid’s EP, Free Spirit is an unforgettable compilation of poems that tell of love, life, and growth. Each and every track offers something new and needless to say, I am not bluffin’ when I say that there is a part of all of us that we can find within its depths.