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Shawn Mendes and the Split-Second Stardom

  • Ed Cardinal Contributing Writer
  • 2014 25 Aug
Shawn Mendes and the Split-Second Stardom

Artist: Shawn Mendes
Title: The Shawn Mendes EP
Label: Island

The times they are a-changin’ again. Shawn Mendes is “music’s first Vine star”—a dreamy teenager from Canada who parlayed his brief video renditions of pop hits on the social media app into an overnight fan base of screaming girls that record labels spend ages (and dollars) trying to reach. Naturally, a big company was quick to sign up this boy—barely old enough to drive—and slap together The Shawn Mendes EP which jumped to No. 1 online in about a half hour.

But don’t read that as cynical. Shawn seems charming and can sing and play guitar well; it’s just fascinating how his split-second journey to fame makes any given American Idol or The Voice contestant now seem like a grizzled industry veteran who could sing the blues about paying dues. The Shawn Mendes EP is four original songs (12+ minutes) informed by today’s pop. Barely on the table yesterday, it’s way too soon to know where all this may be going.

The ballad-leaning title track is already a hit and deserves the status. Combining Shawn’s gutsy-to-falsetto voice with piano and booming drums, it admirably encourages people to forget peer pressure and be themselves: We don’t have the time to be sorry / So baby, be the life of the party. Similarly, “Show You”—breezy acoustic reggae with a cheesy rap break—expresses youthful determination to make any dream come true: I will walk this road ahead 100 miles on my hands.

“One of Those Nights” is musically comparable to Ed Sheeran and speaks in relatively edgy teenage terms about life in a boring a** town . . . let’s make mistakes and don’t look back. That intensity and style is matched on “The Weight” about the heartbreak of a guy who loses his girlfriend to his best friend. It is concerning to hear the sixteen-year-old sing, she was sleeping next door with the kid I grew up with as that could be construed in different ways.

All told, Shawn is a true snapshot of what a lot of kids are seeing and hearing online today. There’s plenty of good and a few hiccups that parents should know about—because children are going to know him. The tween and teen I asked about Mendes said, “Oh yeah, that guy on Vine.”

*Published 8/25/2014

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