Shawn Mendes has been hailed as the next Justin Bieber, for valid reasons as the two indeed have plenty in common. They are both young Canadian singers, were discovered through social media and the Internet, and quickly established themselves as teen heartthrobs. However, despite these similarities, Mendes has proven himself to be vastly different than Bieber musically.
After posting short covers of songs on the video sharing app Vine, Mendes rapidly gained a following and scored a record deal at just 15. His debut album Handwritten catapulted him to stardom and contained the hit single “Stitches,” which peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Mendes’ other singles “Something Big” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” which featured Fifth Harmony’s Camila Cabello, were pop-driven productions that got toes tapping but didn’t quite fit the acoustic sound that first got him noticed.
Mendes’ newly released sophomore album Illuminate continues to explore the radio-friendly pop sound, especially with lead single “Treat You Better,” a catchy dispute on the argument that chivalry is dead. But it’s in his soft, acoustic songs where he really shines. The 18-year-old channels his musical influences of John Mayer and Ed Sheeran far more than he does Bieber throughout much of the album.
“Ruin” is to Mendes what “Gravity” is to Mayer, featuring similar slow, melodic guitar riffs that builds to a booming chorus, whereas the cheeky “Lights On” is reminiscent of “Your Body is a Wonderland.”
As a co-writer for every song on Illuminate, Mendes has the talent to join the likes of Mayer, Sheeran, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson and other soft pop singer-songwriters. At only 18, he has plenty of time to hone his craft and let his music mature even more, putting him on the map to become one of the most successful artists in the genre. But one thing is clear: Shawn Mendes should be recognized for his own evident talent, not for false comparisons to Justin Bieber.