Innocence and Sex: The appeal of Shawn Mendes

There’s no denying the impact of today’s young pop stars. Like every generation, there is young pop musicians that define that certain time. The Beatles were the face of the late 60s early 70s. Michael Jackson rocked our hearts in the 1980s. Britney Spears, Nsync, Christina Aguilera and The Backstreet Boys defined the 90s. Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers were figureheads of the 2000s. The 2010’s have seen the raise of bad boy Justin Bieber, the naughty Ariana Grande, the sassy Meghan Trainor and the fierce girl group Fifth Harmony. Then there is Shawn Mendes. Shawn Mendes, if you don’t know him, is the baby face crooner behind mega hits like “Stiches” and “Treat You Better.”  Shawn Mendes, 18, first got his start in 2013 posting covers on popular social media site Vine. His Vines were such instant hits that he was signed to Island Records in 2014. He then started recording material, gaining adoring fans and making a new name for himself. By the time 2015 rolled around, his debut album, Handwritten, was released to positive reviews and sales. Handwritten had gone to sell more than 500,000 copies worldwide and established him as face to “new teen pop”. His brand new album, Illuminate, debuted a top of Billboard's Top 200 with sales of over 130,000k (to put that it into  perspective Usher only debuted with 26k two weeks earlier) If there was any doubt that Shawn Mendes was a ‘flash in the pan’ those thoughts were gone with Illuminate. Illuminate also became one of the best reviewed albums of 2016. It even earned love from stars like Justin Bieber. Justin Bieber tweeted out to Shawn Mendes: “Shawn Mendes voice makes me smile. Truly a gift to be able to move people’s emotions through songs! So proud of you brother! Great album!” However unlike failed pop stars, Austin Mahone and Cody Simpson, there is something alluring about Shawn Mendes. Is it his soulful voice? His smile? Or maybe it’s the way he perfectly balances his innocence and sex appeal.  

In 2016, Shawn Mendes went from guitar playing boy next door to full on sex symbol. He takes sexy shirtless pictures but smiles like he knows nothing about how harsh the music industry can be. A naïve 18 year old who happens to look an Abercrombie model? This is just what Hollywood wants to sell. Shawn Mendes is following the same pattern of Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera.  Both Aguilera and Spears were the sweet girls next door in the early 2000s. Yet, they both were international sex symbols barring their stomachs and assets at any time. We could easily compare Mendes to Justin Bieber as well, but Mendes isn’t a reckless star like Bieber. We never hear about him partying or getting involved with drugs. Mendes also hasn’t made a fool of himself licking donuts and pastries in bakeries (Ariana Grande that you?) Shawn Mendes and his management know exactly what they are doing. This is what will sell tickets and albums- talent and a little skin. However how much skin do they want to show? Mendes recently stripped down for popular magazine ‘L’Uomo Vogue' . The sexy photoshoot had Mendes laying seductively on a couch and in a bathroom – shirtless of course.  He also stripped down for the “Treat You Better” music video which has almost racked up 300 million views on VEVO. That’s a lot of people.  If they say “sex sells” - Mendes is selling pretty well.

The obsession of Mendes to become a sex symbol was at an all time when popular music blogs had countdowns for the day he turned 18. (We are not kidding either) Yikes. One thing though that separates him from other controversial teen sex symbols of pop music past is that his music isn’t sexual. It’s soulful, genuine and innocent. This is the appeal of Shawn Mendes. He is sweet as apple pie, his music is wholesome, but he makes people's mouth water at the same time. He knows how to work the camera and make himself sexy yet sweet. Austin Mahone and Cody Simpson didn’t know how to do that (or as talented either). Shawn Mendes is a talented musician with the looks of a movie star. He is the perfect teen idol.

Though that begs the question? Where will Shawn Mendes be in 10 years’ time? Will the music become more sexual? Will his sex symbol image continue to grow? Will he have a public downfall like most young stars? Will he even be relevant in the industry? Only time will tell all this. Our hope though is that Shawn Mendes stays true to himself and his music. The media has an obsession of building young stars just to tear them down. They want them to be next week's “train wreck” just to sell magazines. We hope Shawn Mendes doesn’t go down that path. He is talented kid that seems to have good heart. Keep doing your thing Shawn. We are rooting for you! Shawn Mendes starts his Illuminate Tour next summer and will be stopping in cities like New York City, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. Tickets are available now at