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Track Review

A message to tragedy: You won’t win.

That's what we hear from Shawn Mendes and R&B artist Khalid, who have teamed up on “Youth,” a new song from Mendes’ forthcoming, self-titled album.

This timely track speaks directly to young people who have been affected by violence and tragedy. That includes those who were present at the Manchester bombing last year, as well as the survivors of the more recent Parkland and Santa Fe high school shootings.

Where tragedy and violence have threatened to silence their victims, Mendes and Khalid declare that devastation will not have the last word and that hope still flickers for young survivors who've endured so much destruction.

When Tragedy Strikes

How do we respond when tragedy strikes? Mendes and Khalid's response to that hard question emphasizes honesty and determination. Khalid begins, somberly sharing, “Here I am, stuck on this couch. He says that his "heart was broken” because he believes that, as a people, we’re “still not growing, nah.”

Mendes echoes his thoughts: “Waking up to headlines/Filled with devastation again/My heart is broken.” But no matter what he sees on social media and the news, he’s determined to “keep going.”

Both recognize that for many, “It's hard to sleep at night/Knowing what's outside.” They're saddened that a sense of fear has taken over our society as people worry about what disaster waits around the corner, as well as ever-present anxieties that leave them “feeling hopeless.”

Together Mendes and Khalid realize that they “need focus” as their minds have a tendency to lean toward the worst possible outcome. So they join together in this anthem to boldly declare, “Pain, but I won't let it turn into hate/No, I won't let it change me.”

Because no matter what terrible thing may happen, they’ve decided, “You can't take my youth away/This soul of mine will never break/As long as I wake up today," a chorus that's repeated over and over again.

A Message to All

This track delivers its ultimately upbeat message at just the right moment. Because these days, it can seem as if every time we turn on the TV or check our news feed, another horrific event has taken place.

It’s heart wrenching. And I often wonder why there isn't more of an effort to report all the good that’s happening in the world. Because it does still exist.

But it seems that “bad news” sells, a reality that Khalid and Shawn Mendes recognize here. Fear has a loud voice, they say. Yet, there is hope. If we join together in unity, speaking boldly to fear and agreeing that we “won’t let it turn into hate,” then we have the power to move forward in love, working as one to mend and redeem what is broken.

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PopR&B

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[New release, no performance data]

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Island Records

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May 3, 2018

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