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Shawn Mendes Walks His Listeners Through Wonderland, The Story of His Love Life

By Staff Writer Nithika Valluri

Following his critically acclaimed self-titled third album in 2018, Canadian singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes recently released his highly anticipated fourth studio album, Wonder. Prior to this release on December 4, Mendes released his lead single, “Wonder” and collaboration with Justin Bieber, “Monster,” the latter of which hit the Billboard Top 10.

Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber collaborate for Monster.

Mendes begins the 14-song album in the curious state of love, “I wonder what it’s like to be loved by you.” This lyric from “Wonder” parallels a previous album’s collaboration with Julia Michaels, in which he says, “I don’t know what it’s like to be you,” infatuated with his partner. This theme of love persists throughout the album as he hints at finding the girl of his dreams and proposing to her.  

Mendes’s strength in songwriting doesn’t fail to captivate the audience. He sheds light on parts of his life that he has never shown his fans before, expressing his need for normalcy in “Call My Friends”: “I need a vacation from my mind.” After doing more than 100 concerts worldwide in 2019, the rigorous touring schedule took a toll on Mendes’s health. The 22-year old explained his new technique of channeling this feeling into songwriting in the Netflix documentary, Shawn Mendes: In Wonder, “I’m writing about anxiety more like a companion I have to live with and less of an enemy I’m trying to resist.”

Shawn Mendes: In Wonder is available on Netflix.

With each song, Mendes advances his listeners on a journey through “wonderland,” implicitly referring to his love story with singer-songwriter Camila Cabello, leaving the audience emotionally engaged for the storyline in the upcoming songs. 

Couple Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello perform together at VMAs.

Mendes uses Wonder as an opportunity to experiment with his genre by stepping away from the ordinary pop music on his past three albums. Known for his incredible guitar-playing skills, he continues to explore different musical styles throughout Wonder. Heavily inspired by songs like Frankie Valli’s, “Can’t Take My Eyes off You,” Mendes tries to mimic this genre of rock in songs like “Wonder” and “Song For No One,” which is evident with the drum soundscape. However, he doesn’t fully dive into the rock sound with songs such as “Teach Me How To Love” and “Look Up At The Stars,” creating the conventional pop songs that fans are used to.

Staying true to the romantic nature of the album, Mendes completes the storyline deeply in love, showcased with the repeated lyric in “Can’t Imagine”: “Can’t imagine what a world would be without you.” This final 2-minute and 30-second song is purely acoustic, highlighting his impeccable vocals without any background music to take away from the raw emotion. Mendes ironically concludes the song saying, “Cool, that’s good for now,” after pouring out his deep emotion, ultimately expressing that he has grown as an artist and is able to overcome his anxiety.

Can’t Imagine, the last song of the album, demonstrates Mendes’s growth. 

8.5

Wonder (2020)

With Wonder, Mendes attempts to step out of his comfort zone with the rock genre, while staying consistent with his outstanding vocals and creative songwriting to illustrate an engaging love story.

Vocals

9.0

Lyrics

8.0

Creativity

8.5

Pros

  • Impeccable vocal performance
  • Engaging storyline throughout album

Cons

  • Has a few repetitive pop songs
Listen on Spotify

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