Thursday, September 14th, 2017

Marshmello x Khalid – Silence

And now, a drop of sadness.


Nortey Dowuona: Khalid’s heavy, soulful voice carries him through the thick, syrupy synth bass, flat piano chords, limp drums and synth horn stabs circling him, and rises above it all, free and yet burdened.

Joshua Copperman: The specific singles we’ve covered from Marshmello have always been melodic with or without vocals, so it makes sense that when he collaborates with another musician, he lets the singer inform the instrumental, rather than the other way around. Khalid’s lyrics on “Silence” are unusually emotional and specific even for this era of EDM — you’re not going to find a non-melodramatic “My whole life, I’ve felt like a burden” in most other songs, period. The drop is somewhat reminiscent of Martin Garrix’s recent stripped-back singles, but the restraint works even better here — it really sounds like someone trying to speak up, but failing because some force, a side-chain compressor or social anxiety, is holding them back.

Ryo Miyauchi: Marshmello dims his sound for the sake of conveying seriousness, and it doesn’t dull his personality as much as it mutes it. Khalid falls upon the same. His age-specific details compensated for his lack of vocal range, and a switch to one-size-fits-all language makes him also sound anonymous. This surface suggestion of numbness without a lack of the personal might pass for another lesser EDM collaboration, but these guys are too good to fall back to that route.

Maxwell Cavaseno: Gotta say, there’s something really impressive in the fact that Coldplay recently actually did an EDM song, but somehow that was less portentous and light-weight than this, the real “EDM Coldplay” song of 2017.

Stephen Eisermann: I was nervous coming into this because I’m a big fan of Khalid’s voice and the presence he brings to songs, but many EDM pairings have made me dislike certain artists because everything that is great about their voice/presence is often lost in the sea of electronic sounds. I’m so happy to say that isn’t the case here. Khalid’s voice never turns into the belt that many artists need to use to compete with the EDM composition, and the song works all the better for it. The subject matter fits into Khalid’s repertoire well, as the introspective moodiness of the track feels familiar to his style, there is just a drop added to it. Really, this song belongs to Khalid who gives feeling to the emptiness of the production and I don’t think any other artist could’ve provided the coloring that this track needs.

Ashley John: How many unapproved versions of myself live in the minds of others? Some converge to the truth from years of exposure and others live on like zombies feeding on distant memories. “Silence” sounds like the moment of realizing you don’t have to tend to all of your past iterations, just acknowledge them and allow yourself to move forward. It will feel foreign, but it will feel true. Khalid harmonizes with himself and himself and himself, the building tension of it tightens around my chest. Marshmello fumbles the drop, but Khalid’s voice saves it. He snaps it back into place, aligns the good and the bad with the past and the present to grant himself a moment of freedom all his own. 

Kat Stevens: There’s been a busker plaguing the Overground this summer: he saunters up and down the walk-through carriages not with an acoustic guitar, but a grotesque melodica-accordion-bagpipe hybrid, playing the same chirpy knees-up for the duration – when the song’s over, he just starts it up again when he moves up to the next carriage. The bag-power system allows him to ask the horrified commuters for money at the same time, with an unbelievable lack of self-awareness of rush hour etiquette. Yes, Londoners, you heard that right: busking in rush hour. Worst of all it is AMPLIFED. It’s so loud I can hear it over the most maximalist of techno in my headphones. I feel like Gromit with a pillow over his ears, kicked out of his bedroom and forced to listen to the evil penguin’s ear-splitting rinky-dink organ music all night. It’s getting to the point where I’m considering giving the busker money to stop. Marshmello’s drop here is what I imagine the busker sounded like when he was first learning to play his monstrosity of an instrument. Poor old Khalid deserves better.

Katherine St Asaph: The big problem with singer-songwriters having to hitch their acoustica to EDM tracks to get airplay, closely related to the uncredited-vocalist problem, is that flashes of introspection don’t come through when smothered in melted Marshmello goo. When your drop is a hammer, every lyric looks like the same nail.

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