30. Khalid - 'American Teen'
Release date: March 3
19-year-old El Paso native Khalid first caught our attention with his breakout single “Location,” and he’s continued to impress us ever since. His rich, distinctive voice and unflinchingly honest lyricism are what drew us in, and he continues to make great use of these talents on his debut album, American Teen.
The album finds him ruminating on young love, self perception, and his desire to leave his hometown in pursuit of his dreams. He wrote the lyrical content of American Teen as he prepared to graduate high school, documenting his complex, sometimes conflicting emotions about diving headfirst into the “real world” in real-time. His classically beautiful vocals bring an element of maturity to his youthful subject matter, forcing listeners to take him seriously regardless of how many years out of high school they are. He pairs his timeless, soulful vocals with punchy pop percussion and maximalist production elements, crafting a sound that is referential of the past, but also forward-thinking.—Charlotte Freitag