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Saturday, September 30, 2023

Shawn Mendes' fourth studio album 'Wonder' dropped Dec. 4, 2020 via Island Records. 

A picture too perfect: 'Wonder' falls short

Shawn Mendes has had an interesting career. 

Starting with Magcon, opening for Taylor Swift, and somehow selling out Madison Square Garden at the age of 18, Mendes is a success story, his voice, talent and personality have taken him far. 

The anticipation for Mendes’ new record Wonder began with the release of the first single, “Wonder.” It’s an exciting song, one that builds up with a catchy chorus and can slightly remind listeners of Justin Bieber’s “Holy.” 

In fact, Bieber and Mendes have a lot in common; they’re both Canada natives, have soared fast through an eager industry with a long-list of pop ballads and fans of both engage in serious discourse regarding Mendes’ history with Hailey (now) Bieber. The two were spotted together on numerous occasions, one being the infamous Met Gala, where you don’t just walk the carpet with a friend. 

In 2015, Bieber was asked about Mendes, in which he responded with “Who’s Shawn Mendes?” A few years later, the two joined forces on Wonder with “Monster,” a song that addresses the pressures of being in a high-speed industry, while navigating  the most crucial years of your life. Regardless of what many assumed to be a feuding past, Mendes shared that Bieber has helped him adjust to fame. 

But, where Bieber is the bad boy, Mendes is the nice guy. Consequently, this shines through in his music. 

Having followed his career from the very beginning, the progression of Mendes’ music has been fun to watch. Only, Wonder falls short of expectations, it plays into too many cliches and also furthers the cheesiness that many currently criticize him for. 

Camila Cabello, the former face of Fifth Harmony, and Mendes announced that they were officially dating in July of 2019. Since then, the general public has mocked their romance and asked for the two to keep it entirely private as their sequences of PDA became overbearing. 

Much of Wonder talks about being in love and while many artists tap into their love life for inspiration, Wonder seems to lean on it entirely. With songs like “Teach Me How to Love,” the lyrics seem unfair. Mendes is a talented songwriter, he has accolades to prove it and an extensive catalog with hidden gems that I’ll proudly stand behind. But, on Wonder, Mendes seems to play it safe, he fails to challenge himself in ways that he has in the past. 

With cliches like "touch you, tease, caress you and please you" and "everybody wants a piece of you/I get jealous, but who wouldn’t when you look like you do?” listeners pause the music feeling exhausted, many, like me, sigh and admit; we get it, you’re in love. 

There’s also a documentary to prove it. “In, Wonder” follows Mendes over the past few years and has a series of cameos from Cabello. Filmed prior to 2020, “In, Wonder” almost feels too good to be true and in many ways, Mendes is just that. He’s handsome, kind, successful and humble. If Wonder were to stray from love in any way, it would most likely turn onto lonesome lane, as Mendes tries to balance the love from millions with who he really is or trying to become. 

Songs like “Monster” and “Call My Friends” tap into the idea that Mendes is slightly overwhelmed with his mega-popstar status. He loves what he does but is quick to admit it all happened very fast. 

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Regardless of a swing and a miss attempt at an album, Mendes is the kind of person you want to root for because he continues to appear so innocent and sweet. But, that can only get anyone so far. In a year of chaos, it might appear that calm and pure could sell but Wonder lacks a unique twist on its proposed fairytale. 

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