Shawn Mendes is, indisputably, a growing sensation in the music industry, and the 17-year-old Canadian singer reached a new milestone when his single, “Stitches,” held the No. 1 spot throughout last week in the UK charts. For Mendes, this achievement is significant in itself, though his career is punctuated with other successes, and indicates a continuing upward trajectory. Shawn’s album, Handwritten, debuted at No. 1 on Billboard Hot 200 Chart and has sold 342,000 copies, he opened for Taylor Swift throughout her 1989 tour last year, and has over 5 million Twitter followers after rising to stardom only two years ago. What makes Mendes’ current success more remarkable is his generation of phenomenon in an industry already flushed with boy bands, teen stars and pop heartthrobs whose musical identities directly compete with his own.
Pop prince Justin Bieber’s latest singles “Love Yourself,” “Sorry.” and “What Do You Mean” presently occupy spots two, three, and four, with the new charts to be announced in two days. Monday’s Official Charts Update said that Mendes currently holds the lead with just over 6,000 combined track sales more than its closest rival. In fact, with “Stitches” at No. 1 of the Official Singles Chart — and Official Charts itself predicting a second week at the top for Shawn’s song — Bieber poses fierce competition for Mendes.
Justin’s relative monopolization of the Top Five can be seen to represent the significant challenge that Shawn has faced — and will continue to face — as a pop artist today. Though the fellow Canadian is sportingly supportive of Mendes, as reported by The Inquisitr last year, Bieber is not the only contestor of Shawn’s lead: several other male artists with recent or imminent releases could eclipse Mendes’ single as No. 1. Industry forecasters named Zayn Malik, the former One Direction artist whose first solo album, Pillowtalk, is set to release on Friday, as a potential threat to Mendes. Also bringing with them millions of fans and followers to compete with Shawn is Australian band 5 Seconds Of Summer, whose album, Sounds Good Feels Good, took out the top spot on the Official Albums Chart in October last year, having outsold its rivals by more than two-to-one.
So how does Shawn Mendes, whose humble beginnings as a 15-year-old singer showcasing his talents on Vimeo saw him win the Teen Choice award for Music Webstar in 2014, seize the spotlight from the stars?
In an interview with Billboard, Shawn discussed the road to success so far — which he owes, in his opinion, to his loyal fans and followers — and shed some light on the creative process behind keeping the Mendes musical brand fresh and unique.
“[my music is] changing and developing and growing, and it’s really fun… I think [Stitches] is a very good bridge to how my new music is going to start to sound — a little bit more soulful, and it’s still obviously a good pop song,” said Shawn.
Mendes’ star is set to rise further still: Shawn thanked Forbes on Twitter for naming him in this year’s Hottest 30 Under 30.
The continuing growth of Shawn’s following is also aided by high-profile appearances: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon hosted Mendes and Camila Cabello to perform their duet, I Know What You Did Last Summer, on January 4.
Crafting musical talent, garnering fans and followers and attaining stardom to rival that of Bieber and today’s boy bands is no small feat, and Mendes’ achievements prove his ability to overcome the challenges of the contemporary music industry. Shawn Mendes’ evolving style, loyalty to his fans and prolific performative profile suggest the star is at the beginning of a long, successful career.
[Image by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images]