Shawn Mendes



by mattdwyer16 USER (8 Reviews)
March 13th, 2021 | 0 replies

Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Shawn Mendes is no James Taylor, or even Ed Sheeran

Shawn Mendes released his sophomore album only a year after his debut. This could be a sign of two things: either Mendes is a prolific writer, or just very eager. Considering the guitar tattoo on his arm and the fact that he didn’t even co-write his biggest hit ("Stitches"), he was probably just overeager. Illuminate fails to showcase any artistic evolution for Mendes. He probably should have waited a bit longer to release it.

The first issue with the album is its title: Illuminate. Shawn pronounces it ill-um-in-it, as if he thinks he is inventing a new word just by pronouncing "illuminate" differently. What does ill-um-in-it even mean? Why not just say illuminated?

In that case, the album is an even bigger failure, because it fails to illuminate anything. Shawn’s first album showed promise. His heart-on-his-sleeve attitude went beyond his image: his songs were actually self-written confessional ballads. (Except for "Stitches," the successful one.) But on Illuminate, Shawn fails to venture into deeper territory thematically. The entire album is a superficial recreation of "Stitches" in various emotional incarnations. Maybe Shawn got lazy once he hit a successful formula, or maybe his record label forced him to recreate "Stitches" as a safe bet to ensure album sales and radio play. Either way, on Illuminate, Shawn's singer-songwriter image is just that: an image.*

Illuminate's second track “Mercy” represents a critical flaw of the album: lack of depth. When explaining “Mercy” on a radio show, Shawn added no insight into the song at all, because there isn't any to be had. “It’s like, I’m asking someone who’s putting me through pain to, like, have mercy on my heart,” he said. The song’s chorus goes, “Have Mercy, have mercy, on my heart.” Shawn's explanation was not very illuminating.

The song isn’t bad: Shawn uses the bluesy and rough quality of his voice for a powerful chorus and bridge sequence. But it lacks authenticity. Straight and white artists (AKA, artists' whose experience is almost universal in America) can still be compelling as individuals by revealing what challenges them as an individual. Anyone can be relatable, no matter how generic they are. But to succeed at that you still have to be vulnerable. You cant just sing about vulnerability. Shawn gets away with that because's he's a good-looking white dude. He'll find an audience even if he feigns emotion. Just the idea of a straight white male feeling an emotion is compelling enough to attract the pop-listening masses. But it doesn't illuminate anything.

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user ratings (61)
very poor
other reviews of this album
theblackcredenza (1.5)
After listening to this aaaaaalbum…. I’ll be needin stiiiiiitches. Oh woa oh. Because Sean’s v...

DommeDamian (1)
Productive star turned lyrical douchebag....

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