Rising singer has lost some of his mojo on the upward journey

Khalid’s 2017 debut, American Teen, had him poised for the big time. The El Paso, Texas, R&B singer had breakout hits with “Location” and the ubiquitous “Young Dumb & Broke.” And it didn’t hurt that around the same time Khalid showed up on Logic’s “1-800-273-8255.” 

After 2018 EP Suncity and sophomore album Free Spirit, which came out in April, Khalid has certainly lived up to the pop-star-in-the-making buzz, but it has come at a cost. Some of the tracks on Free Spirit (see “Alive,” “Saturday Nights” and others) could fit nicely on an Ed Sheeran record, which isn’t necessarily a dig or a compliment; it’s just that some of his idiosyncratic qualities have been tamped way down.

Aside from partnering with John Mayer on “Outta My Head,” Khalid often sounds best (and most interesting) on collabs, like teaming up with Disclosure on “Talk” and taking a guest turn on Billie Eilish’s “Lovely.” These creative partnerships seem to bring something out of Khalid that made us fall in love with him in the first place, back when he was reminiscing about being a young, dumb, broke high school kid. Sometimes you have to go back to go forward.