Cut Through the Noise: Khalid, Zara Larsson, Isaac Dunbar (Week of April 5)


Illustration by Isaac Wert

Abby Intveld

Welcome to “Cut Through the Noise,” an entertainment column from the St. Louis Park Echo covering new music releases. Every week, a different Echo staffer takes on the role as writer, reviewing recent single releases from a variety of artists.


Fair use from RCA Records

“Self” — Khalid ★★★★☆

Khalid succeeded once again at creating a song that is impossible not to sway along to — no matter how serious the material. The harsh snare drum starts the tune off, setting up a sultry tone right away. The rolling, meditative beat that’s a staple of Khalid is present and captivating. Khalid’s deep vocals emanate throughout the entirety of “Self,” showcasing his raw talent. The lyrics are darker than that in his debut album, with this song reflecting on death — contrasting his previous works regarding the ease of teenage years. One fault of the single is its slightly monotonous tone, with no strong dynamics. There is only a slight climax present, which includes softer vocals floating in the background. But, the simplicity of the song isn’t a bad thing and it actually fits Khalid’s vibe very well. If the songs on his upcoming album “Free Spirit” are anything like “Self,” it will surely be a top-selling record.


Fair use from Universal Music Group

“Don’t Worry Bout Me” — Zara Larsson ★☆☆☆☆

According to Swedish artist Zara Larsson, her own record label didn’t even like the then-unreleased single “Don’t Worry Bout Me” — and I completely understand why. Cringy beats that could be made on Garageband start off the single, which was the first red flag. Her jarring voice breaks through the electronics with autotune making an unwelcome appearance. A cliché and disappointing beat drop signaled the change from verse to chorus, but it didn’t succeed in making me want to dance. Larsson’s squeaky high pitched vocals made the track difficult to listen to and made it clear she has no classical training. To top it all off, the lyrics rambled on and on about nothing. Not only was “Don’t Worry Bout Me” unenjoyable to listen to, but there was no true meaning or impact behind the lyrics. Don’t listen to “Don’t Worry Bout Me” and save three minutes of your time — you’ll thank me later.


Fair use from Isaac Dunbar

“pharmacy” — Isaac Dunbar ★★★☆☆

At only 15 years old, Isaac Dunbar created an R&B song that is very consumable to the teenage ear. The deep beat holds up the song, supporting Dunbar’s smooth vocals, though it resembles a typical pop formula. The chorus is the highlight of the song, with a catchy and easy-to-sing melody that still provides depth. But the lyrics of the single do reflect his youth, with very naive images of teenage romance. Dunbar sings of the addictive qualities of love through clever wordplay such as “prescribe yourself to me.” Though the tune is slightly unoriginal and manufactured to fit modern radio trends — with an attractive beat and relatable lyrics — “pharmacy” still manages to hit the mark as a solid song. Do yourself a favor and prescribe yourself to Dunbar, for he is an up-and-coming artist who will only keep improving.