Rounding out the back end of Khalid’s latest record ‘Suncity’ is irresistibly smooth Alternative R&B jam “Better,” one of the few upbeat tracks on the album that’s capable of bringing Khalid out of his shell, dropping the shy, reserved personality of the earlier tunes for a much more confident, sexually-charged attitude, taking the song by the reigns & never letting go until you’ve reached your destination – As most of the songs on ‘Suncity’ detail the abysmal life of a desert-city dwelling adolescent & the difficulties of trying to make a relationship between friends bloom into something meaningful, “Better” presents listeners with a welcome change of pace, speaking of an attraction between two individuals that blooms with splendor, the pair’s love radiating in spectacular fashion every time meet with one-another, inspiring Khalid to live life to the fullest. Of course, rather than being about a full-on relationship, he’s actually singing about a fling he’s become engaged in, the power of their sexual encounters so magnificently alluring that he’s found himself truly happy for the first time, able to indulge in the pleasures of the flesh with a like-minded individual who’s just trying to have a good time instead of worrying about keeping up appearances & tending to their other emotional needs, allowing them to both reach their full potential whenever they get together – While it’s a bit unfortunate that Khalid’s best narrative just so happens to be one where he’s not so obsessively concerned with maintaining a steady relationship, it’s absolutely fantastic to see him embracing his sexuality for once & giving in to the groove, maturing somewhat by letting go of his old-fashioned views on relationships & embracing the journey of life rather than controlling it.
Even better, though, are the melodic elements of “Better,” Khalid going full noughties-era R&B with the progressive slow jam, providing listeners with an exhilarating track full of bright atmospheric resonance & upbeat rhythms tailor-made for chilling out & getting your groove on. The base rhythm is made up of a steady percussion groove that beats in a subdued fashion, the muffled kicks drums punching with a gulping sound as tinny hi-hats chime off above, supported by a wonderfully radiant synth melody that just hums about through every section of the song, enveloping the listener in a blanket of electronic warbling whilst anthemic synth pads provide emotional pushes every few bars, the whole vibe akin to one of Lloyd or Ne-Yo’s slow-burning dance ballads from the late-noughties, the perfect foundation for pop-lockin’ with a single white pointer-finger glove & K-Swiss shoes on. Over this Khalid then supplies some equally-bold yet reserved vocal melodies, his droning voice bending & breaking as he pines for the touch of his lover, every melody brimming with passion & lustful intent, breathing sexuality into each line in the most confident manner he has ever sung; You almost don’t notice the terrible enunciation problems he has yet to fix – Finally, the music video makes Khalid look the coolest he ever has, chilling in the rooftop parking with his BMW M5 at twilight intercut with scenes of him dancing under the full dark of night, showing off his surprisingly top-level footwork & generally doing his best Omarion impression throughout the track; He looks like he’s having fun for once, vibing out in a parking lot doing bupkis, fueled by the elation of knowing he has a thrilling partner to go bed-up with as the night goes on, delivering easily his most entertaining visual performance yet – There’s definitely a lot of half-assed songwriting on ‘Suncity,’ but “Better” washes away all the mistakes Khalid has made before & proves that he’s down to take things seriously for the betterment of his career, easily the best song he’s ever released.
The synth and piano notes slide in a ghost-like, ethereal haze, setting the atmosphere up for Khalid’s moaning vocals; “Better, nothing, baby, nothing feels better, I'm not really drunk I never get that fucked up, I'm not, I'm so sober.” His lyrics are contradictory, but perhaps they symbolize the narcotic effects of ‘the lover’ and how he feels about her. Nothing makes sense, yet everything makes sense in that head space. In a nod to Rihanna, Khalid sings that he likes to see his woman shining bright like a diamond, or in other words, he wants her beauty to be celebrated and on display, or furthermore, she has such a pretty energy, inside and out, that she easily shines in his eyes. Khalid is a very self-deprecating Artist; in almost every song he presides over, it is a mix of liking someone, but being afraid that he is somehow not good enough, and while he usually adds that his indifference might have been the relationship killer, it also seems that he picks semi-shitty girls to spend time with. A reoccurring theme is that they don’t have enough time for him, or that the relationship is not exclusive. That is the case with the lyrics here; “I'm good on the side, it's alright, just hold me in the dark.” Like, what is up with this guy’s self esteem – he often puts himself in the position as the side-chick – and that’s not offense to side chicks, who may want to be there. But this dude wants to be held in the dark. Furthermore; “No one's gotta know what we do, hit me up when you're bored.” This coming from a megastar if contemporary R&B. It shows the sensitive brilliance of Khalid, but critical fans do wonder – when is he going to sing about something else. Has the character that he plays learned to demand more from a woman, because it certainly seems like he wants more. What a wonderful sounding song, but the lyrics are soul-crushing, and after a couple years of popularity, the Artist is going to need to switch it up – personally and creatively…or he can just continue to belong to the sad boy club, until the fad fades; “you say we’re just friends but I swear when nobody’s around.” Right, when no one is around, it’s all so magical right? Dang, you are giving this chick way too much time my dude.
Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, Tor Erik Hermansen, Ryan Vojtesak, Jamil Chammas, Khalid Robinson
"Better" is a song by American singer Khalid. It was first released as the lead single from Khalid's debut EP, Suncity, on September 14, 2018. The song was a commercial success and became Khalid's first solo top 10 single in the US.