Wednesday, May 23rd, 2018

Shawn Mendes ft. Khalid – Youth

Today, we are not bitches about that guy who did “Stitches.”


Alex Clifton: The BBMAs performance of this song — Parkland choir and all — made me cry. It’s not just that it’s a song about kids facing adversity, or that Shawn Mendes and Khalid are close in age to the Parkland kids. It’s a really beautiful song, but it hits harder in 2018 than I expected. It hit me harder on Sunday that the Parkland kids had to go up and sing a song about not having to give up their youth directly after another goddamn school shooting, when the Parkland rallying cry has been “never again.” “Youth” lingers in a way that reminds me that it shouldn’t have to; while it’s a beautiful song, I’m sad that there’s a need for it because our kids no longer feel safe. 

Alfred Soto: This chiseler is too young to be feel long in the tooth even if he plays guitar like an arthritic senior. 

Juan F. Carruyo : This is straight out of Ed Sheeran’s playbook with delicate finger-picked acoustic guitars against an ominous synth bass that make the song way more menacing that it needs to be. Such is the way of music production in this post-EDM world that even what strives for intimacy also needs to be stadium ready. Rather sad. 

Juana Giaimo: I really appreciate Shawn Mendes’ unexpected change of direction. Both the fancy “Lost in Japan” and the deep “In my blood” show his intent to do something different from just being the new Ed Sheeran. “Youth” tries to portray today’s generation surrounded by bad news and how difficult is to cope with all the stress growing up in the 21st century means, and I’m sure many listeners will find this song healing, but I feel something is lacking here, maybe because the chorus is too repetitive. They sing  “You can’t take my youth away” so many times that it almost lacks meaning: what is youth today and who wants to take it away? By being so general, part of emotion is lost. As for Khalid, he doesnt add much — Mendes’ slightly trembling voice is convincing enough.

Stephen Eisermann: I wish I wasn’t too cynical to enjoy this tender, pulsing mid-tempo, but so many things have happened these past few years. While Shawn and Khalid trade verses about fighting against the darkness of the world we live in, I sit here and think of the innocent children of undocumented immigrants being forcibly split from their parents, of the LGBTQIA+ youth who have to grow up without the support of this administration, of the Palestinian teenage protestors who died, of Trayvon Martin, of Tamir Rice, of the Parkland, Santa Fe High, and other school shooting victims because they had or are having their “youths” taken away. Thus, I can appreciate this song as a rallying cry for those young people who haven’t yet succumbed, but for me this is nothing more than a pretty, well-meaning track that makes me long for the days when I was lucky enough to be ignorant of the darkness.

Edward Okulicz: The heart’s in the right place, but the execution is too  resigned-sounding to be the defiant song of power it wants to be, and should be. Khalid tends to have a sedative effect on me too, but there’s a grain of real anger and half a strong tune here, and I wish there were more.

Tobi Tella: Shawn Mendes’ recent trip into making decent music/becoming the 2010’s John Mayer has been significantly better than the teen pop he was doing beforehand, and if the John Mayer analogy continues, this is his “Waiting On the World to Change.” Similarly to that song, it feels like it wants to be a protest anthem but ends up feeling sort of non-committal. While the lyrics are some of the best of Mendes’ career, the instrumentation and vocals are exceedingly sleepy, something not helped by Khalid’s presence, who sounds bored even on his own good songs. It’s the worst song from Shawn’s album yet, but he’s gone 3 for 3 for decent singles, something I would’ve scoffed at 2 years ago.

Matias Taylor: This is really a song about wanting to go back and experience the abandon of falling in love for the first time after getting to know heartbreak, and Khalid’s aching croon embodies the caution and despondency that follow experience. Shawn’s boyband warble is compelling as the idealistic, starry-eyed counterpart, and he sounds almost angry on the bridge, as if he feels a pang of doubt at having to remind himself that he’s still young enough to start again.

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2 Responses to “Shawn Mendes ft. Khalid – Youth”

  1. I missed blurbing this but I would have mentioned how it’s nice that more and more we have pop songs (this, Bonnie McKee’s “Mad Mad World”, Kacey Musgraves’ “Lonely Weekend”) that acknowledge how miserable it’s become to scroll through your phone while laying in bed in the morning.

    The rest of the song is… ehh?

  2. also Tove Lo’s “Keep It Simple”