If you’ve been reading NUBI for a while, you may know I hate nothing more than boring music. Bad music has value – some songs are so bad they’re good, whilst others fill a placeholder-type role in the charts until the next popular song starts moving up. But boring music needs to die.
I’ve written before about James Bay and Coldplay being offensively boring, but this next artist brings boring to a whole new level of bland. He’s the newest addition to the ever-growing genre of white-guys-making-pseudo-soul-music-with-an-acoustic-guitar (WGMPSMWAAGs?): it’s Shawn Mendes.
Having recently completed the second longest climb to the number 1 position in the charts with Stitches, Mendes finds himself in the British public eye for the first time since he signed with Island Records a few years ago. Rising to social media fame in 2013 for his six second covers of popular songs, he was the third most-followed musician on Vine by August 2014.
His first single ‘Life of the Party’ debuted in the top 25 of the Billboard Hot 100 in July 2014, and Stitches topped several American charts upon its release. Taking a whopping 17 weeks to finally reach the top spot here, the Canadian’s UK debut has fended off competition from Bieber, The 1975 and One Direction, but is it any good?
There’s so much wrong with this it’s difficult to decide on a starting point. I’ll go with the lyrics because Christ they’re bad. On a conceptual level, they’re just stupid – why would you use a metaphor of having the shit kicked out of you on a romantic-y-type song. Who thought it would be a good idea to rhyme stitches and kisses? Completely asinine.
The rest of the song isn’t much better. It’s like wading through a quagmire of tired tropes, awkward sentences and sheer crap. Let’s conduct an experiment: pick which of the following clichés appeared in this song…
- Cut deeper than a knife
- Breathe me back to life
- A moth drawn to a flame
- Your bitter heart cold to the touch
- Get you out of my head
- Baby, please
Made your picks?
Well if you picked all of the above, you were right! The stitches line in the chorus is, in fact, the most original part of the song – why not try and make the verses original and limit yourself to one clichéd line to carry the chorus, rather than filling your song to the brim with lines a 10 year old could come up with?
His voice itself is okay. It isn’t special or unique, but it isn’t particularly bad or anything – he can carry a note just fine. He has a bit of a weird tone – there’s quite a nasally sound but it doesn’t ruin the song (not that there’s a shortage of other things that do).
I don’t know. It’s difficult to articulate what doesn’t work about Shawn Mendes. I think his rise may be an issue – he comes across like a total corporate puppet. There’s no edge or anything to him, he’s just a very safe company man-type. His music is bland to the point where it starts sounding like white noise – the melody is almost non-existent, his voice is unspectacular, the guitar and instruments may as well not be there and the song carries no personality at all.
The only explanation I can come up with for his rise to number 1 is a lack of new releases, which is all set to change anyway with Zayn Malik, Sia, Bloc Party and Rihanna all releasing music this week. Shawn’s days are numbered, and hopefully he’ll fade back into the obscurity from whence he came before the next chart update comes out.