I don’t know that an album has ever been more heavily marketed to me. I can’t open a web browser, streaming platform, magazine, without having my vision plastered with images of young Khalid and his debut album, ‘American Teen’. Presumably someone, somewhere (or, more likely, an algorithm in a server farm somewhere in random, rural Oregon) decided that ‘American Teen’ hit all the right targets for me. They were right as far as ‘Location’ is concerned. But having listened to the rest of ‘American Teen’ over the weekend, I’m struck by just how much of a fluke my interest in ‘Location’ is, and how much of an expensive flop the marketing exercise could have been had I not come across it. Khalid might have spent almost the cost of a digital album download with nothing to show for it but a near hit.
‘American Teen’ is full of ditties about, as its name would suggest, being very young and uninhibited and, sometimes, in love in America. As an American teen, I completely understand why I would love it. ‘Young, Dumb & Broke’ speaks to the carefree masses in the anthemic, pseudo-lullaby tones in which it is used to being addressed. ‘Saved‘ embraces the modern lexicon of spurned romance (‘but I’ll keep your number saved’). The whole album is full to bursting with the kind of bold statements about love and life and loss that necessarily resonate with a target demographic too young to properly grasp the gravity of many of these concepts. And the faceless music marketing mathematicians chose me as the humble outlier of this niche, age-demarcated community.
Without thinking too much about why I was included (or too deeply about the cultural implications of my being roped in), I can’t help but think that whatever divine providence delivered ‘Location’ to me somehow understood that while I’m not into Wiz Khalifa ‘Young, Wild & Free‘-esque b.s. and thus could never truly be expected to deeply invest in this debut, ‘Location’, exploring many of the same tropes of adolescence (somewhat more subtly), and again engaging with techno-slang (‘send me your location’), would cut through. Where other tracks on the debut pander to pop expectation with uninspired instrumentality and well-worn lyrical concepts, ‘Location’ is nimble and delicate, crisp and minimal. It showcases the best parts of ‘American Teen’ in a single, tight, 3’30” song and makes every dollar spent getting it to me worthwhile. Word of mouth enthusiasm has never been so teenage.
Khalid – Location