At only 19 years old, singer-songwriter heartthrob Shawn Mendes is gearing up to release his third full-length album this Friday, May 25th. And man, is he having a moment.
This week, he performed not once, but twice at the Billboard Music Awards. Mendes first hit the stage with a powerful rendition of his current single “In My Blood,” and later, alongside Khalid and the Parkland High School show choir in an emotional moment addressing school gun violence with his new track “Youth.”
Next, he’ll play The Late Late Show with James Corden the entire week of June 4th, in addition to hitting the Today Show Outdoor Concert Series on June 1st, before headlining hitting the road on an international tour.
The decision to make his third album self-titled certainly does not appear to be out of a lack of creativity. Rather, this feels like a career-defining moment for Mendes, one where his personal and professional development and sheer hard-work are coalescing to produce as superior piece of art, and the world is taking notice.
Shawn’s origin story is, by this point, well-known. He taught himself to play guitar on YouTube before posting his own videos on Vine, where he quickly became one of the most followed artists and was scooped up by Island Records in 2014. His first hit was 2015’s catchy “Stitches,” which peaked at number 4 on the Hot 100 and proved the kid had serious pop songwriting chops.
His second album, Illuminate, was released in late 2016, led by the hit “Treat You Better.” But this is where Shawn began to show true signs of artistry beyond his teen pop exterior. Appearing as the musical guest on Saturday Night Live from behind his guitar, he belted out the second single, the emotional power ballad “Mercy,” showcasing his strong raspy belting and a maturity that far exceeded his age. You could feel the studio audience collectively go “Whoa! This kid is worth paying attention to.”
But the big smash from the album was the third single, “There’s Nothin Holdin Me Back,” released in Spring 2017 as part of a special repackaged edition of the album. The electrifying super hit lit up the charts for the remainder of the year and took Shawn to the next level of certified pop stardom. Meanwhile, his swelling muscles and new grown-ass-man image had men and women around the world TAKING NOTICE.
After he was shut out of the Grammy Awards to the surprise of many, Shawn Mendes didn’t pout or rant on Twitter. He got back to work, perhaps inspired to take his game to the next level. When it came time to release the first single from this album, Shawn crafted an ultra personal song about his battle with anxiety, set to a Kings Of Leon-esque climactic arrangement. The result works beautifully, and points to Mendes’ dedication to his own artistic development.
But he’s also rising to the occasion in other ways. By writing about his own personal battles, and by being willing to tackle a national crisis like school gun violence, Shawn Mendes proves he is ready to be his generation’s male icon. Put frankly, he seems like a genuinely nice dude with a huge talent that you want to route for.
By Rory Arnold, Contributing Writer