Dark Light

Released: 2017

“Winter” by Khalid bathes in the play of contrasts; the warmth of love and the cold of its loss, the brightness of a morning promise and the darkness of a lonely city night. This melancholic pop track traverses the terrain of heartbreak, echoing the ebbs and flows of an intense love affair that sadly, didn’t stand the test of time. Khalid expertly exploits the metaphor of seasons and temperature to paint this emotional landscape, framing the transience of love, and the brutal, raw aftermath of its departure.

The song opens with an eerie nocturnal scene where Khalid lays bare the painful aftermath of a breakup, “I lost my heart in the nighttime. She left me out in the cold. She left me broken and weary. Drunk off the lies she told.” The phrase ‘Drunk off the lies she told’ serves as a candid expression of his intoxicated state, signifying he was taken in and ultimately, harmed by his partner’s falsehoods. This harsh beginning is juxtaposed with the hopeful mood of a new day. While the night was cold and somber, the morning appears promising, offering love and delivering warmth. But alas, when the day gets cold, his refuge is the lonely “City of El Paso”, a personal touch by Khalid to introduce his hometown, and highlighting that physical places often bear the weight of emotional narratives.

Yet, when we venture into the chorus, Khalid’s lyrics encapsulate the chilling essence of loss with his poignant refrain, “But the days get harder in November. Love grows colder in the winter.” The symbolic use of November and winter underline the progression of his emotional hardship. What seemed harder in November becomes colder and presumably harder still in winter, capturing the deepening emotional turmoil as time passes. The echo of that phrase, “Promise that you’ll keep my love with ya”, offers a plea; it’s as if he’s reaching out to his lover once more, asking her to hold onto their shared memories and emotions.

The second verse accentuates Khalid’s pain of rejection, where he admits he was more invested in the relationship, “The feeling wasn’t mutual”. The repetition of the chorus consequent to this verse resonates even harder, because it is clear how much he yearned for her love to remain steadfast. As the song concludes with the repetition of the pledge, “Promise that you’ll keep my love with ya”, Khalid’s heartfelt yearning becomes more of a mantra, an insistent appeal for his ex to remember their shared past.

Ultimately, “Winter” illuminates the chilling truth of how love can warm and freeze hearts in the same beat. Khalid’s lyrics spin a tale that resonates with anyone who’s felt the icy wind of heartbreak blow through their lives, masterfully encapsulating in metaphor and melody how promises of love can become the harshest winter chill.