If it feels like every artist who releases a single includes at least one featured artist on the track, it’s because it’s true. Pop stars work with hip hop artists for a single verse, rappers enlist the help of R&B singers for the hook, and many times the result is a feature that doesn’t bring much to the table except the inclusion of a hot new artist’s name on the track listing. That is not the case with Shawn Mendes and his new single “Youth” featuring Khalid.
A true collaboration, Mendes and Khalid split the vocals 50/50 in “Youth,” even harmonizing together on the song’s chorus. Mendes’ higher range and Khalid’s smooth lower register strike a beautiful balance in the new ballad, which explores the injustices found in the world and the two artists’ concerted effort to not let what is happening around them break their spirit, in effect taking their youth.
Mirroring the same introspection and reflection Mendes exhibited in his lead single “In My Blood,” “Youth” is a call to action to continue pushing through the darkest times in life and finding the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s a perfect song to drop in 2018, especially with the delivery by two of music’s most exciting young voices with 19-year-old Mendes and 20-year-old Khalid.
Mendes spoke with Beats 1 host Zane Lowe about the new collaboration, saying “I’ve known Khalid for about maybe a little over a year now. We just immediately hit it off. It’s just a really, really awesome friendship, like talking all the time. When things first really started happening for him, we were always like always we gotta get together, we gotta make music, we gotta make music.”
The teen singer said the friends were finally able to record together when they were both in the U.K.
“In London there was the attack on the bridge. And I remember that day thinking like, OK, I gotta text him. When I texted him, I said when we get together, we have to make a statement. We have to move. We have to write about what’s going on in life and how the youth is feeling because I think we have the voice to do that,” said Mendes.
“I remember I woke up in the morning and the whole thought of my youth trying to be taken away from me…not youth as in my age, youth as in my love, my happiness, my joy, my purity. It’s not even about age, you could be 50 and your youth is there, it’s in you. And all of these horrible things happening in the world, all of the headlines, it felt like every day it was just being pulled more and more out of us. And I was like this is what we have to write about. And it was awesome. I’m really, really proud of that song.”
“Youth” is the third single from Mendes’ upcoming third studio album, the self-titled Shawn Mendes. Following “In My Blood” and “Lost In Japan,” “Youth” is the first duet to be released from Shawn Mendes, which also features a track with Julia Michaels.
Shawn Mendes is set to be released on May 25, just five days after Mendes performs at the 2018 Billboard Music Awards on Sunday, May 20. Following the album release, Mendes will appear on The Late Late Show With James Corden every night during the week of June 4. Fingers crossed Khalid also makes an appearance for the pair to perform their new duet.