With one world tour already under his belt, 18-year old pop star on the rise Shawn Mendes is set to take over the charts for years to come. First discovered on the popular social media app Vine, Mendes developed a following of millions online based on his incredible song-covers alone, which carried over in a big way for his smash-hit 2015 album, Handwritten. Debuting at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, he became the youngest artist to accomplish this feat since fellow-Canadian Justin Bieber in 2010.
With his newest album, Illuminate, Mendes is still just scratching the surface of his huge talent. Shawn Mendes: Superstar Next Door is the ultimate tribute to the teen heartthrob with the voice of an angel and a must-have for true fans. Including nearly 100 full-color photographs, fans are provided a glimpse into this star's life — from his early days in Toronto making his mark on Vine and YouTube to his historic debut on the Billboard charts with Handwritten, capturing the hearts of listeners all over the world. This keepsake additionally explores Shawn's sold-out 2016 debut world tour, his unique and special relationship with his millions-strong Mendes Army of fans, and his foray into the acting world. Also featuring a look ahead to what exciting things the future has in store for this pop superstar, Shawn Mendes: Superstar Next Door is an essential collectible for fans of this teen sensation.
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By Katy Sprinkel
Triumph Books LLCCopyright © 2016 Katy Sprinkel
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Life of the Party
He's talented. He's tech-savvy. He's a teenager. And he's taking the world by storm. Shawn already has a #1 album, his full-length debut Handwritten, has had six singles (and counting) crack the Billboard 100, and headlined a world tour. Not bad for a kid who just graduated high school.
He's been hailed by critics and fans alike as the next Justin Bieber, a comparison he accepts with a humbleness beyond his years. "Being compared to him is great," he told Digital Spy. "He is super talented."
And surely, the two Canadians have plenty in common. For starters, they both owe their start to the Internet. Justin was famously discovered after posting YouTube videos of himself singing covers of various pop and R&B songs, and quickly found a record deal with RBMG, headed by Usher — one of the very artists he covered. We all know the rest of the story.
Shawn, a self-taught singer and guitarist, has been called the first Vine superstar. But in an Internet landscape where every YouTube cover artist is aiming to be "discovered," becoming a world-famous musician isn't what Shawn set out to be. Instead, he started posting six-second snippets on Vine just to amuse himself and his friends. It was "a habit and a fun thing to do after school in a boring town," he told Rolling Stone.
Indeed, it wasn't until he started to get a response that he started to think bigger. He posted a short cover of a lesser-known Justin Bieber ballad and it got attention immediately — he was literally an overnight success. "I posted this little six-and-a-half-second clip of me singing. ... I woke up the next morning and I had like 10,000 followers. ... I was like, Okay, I guess I should go with this," he told KiSS-FM. Before long, he was one of the most popular contributors on Vine.
He kept on posting, and the social media momentum kept on building. Soon, his followers were requesting songs for him to sing. They were telling their friends, building fan sites devoted to him, making their own tributes.
Vine isn't a logical path to stardom, Shawn admits, but it worked for him. "People could say, 'Well, it doesn't take much talent to put a six-second video up," he told the New York Times. "I would argue that it does, because you only have six seconds to impress somebody," he said. "And if you can do that in six seconds, then you've done a good job."
He started gaining momentum across other social media platforms, too, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, YouTube, where fans could find more than six seconds of Shawn at a time. It was on YouTube that he got the attention of now-manager Andrew Gertler, who was searching online for artists covering A Great Big World's smash hit "Say Something" and randomly stumbled across Shawn's version. Gertler rushed to sign Shawn, and soon there was a record deal in place with Island Records. "There was something about him that just struck me as different from every other kid on social media," Gertler told AXS.com. "Not only was his voice unique, but he had a natural charisma that I don't think you can learn. Something just draws people to him."
It's that relatability that fans echo when they talk about him, too. He really does feel like the superstar next door. He could be their neighbor, their classmate, their best friend. And in many ways, Shawn is still a typical teenage guy. He plays sports and writes poetry and eats junk food and worries about acne. He just also happens to have a surging music career.
He released his first single, "Life of the Party," in 2014 and it hit big, selling almost 150,000 copies in its first week and sailing to #24 on the Billboard charts. It was a huge smash for Shawn, who hadn't had any radio play to promote the single. None. Zilch. Nada. All the promotion was done through his social media sites. "We decided to put it online with no marketing or airplay because we wanted to understand his fan base and how it would behave," Island head David Massey told Billboard. "We released the song at 11:15 pm, and it was #1 at midnight. Within the first 24 hours, we had exceeded 100,000. That's true fan engagement and true conversion, from being a fan to putting down money."
It's a feat most artists wouldn't dare to attempt. What's more, it made Shawn the youngest artist ever to break the Billboard Top 25 with a debut single. It was also the best debut single for any act since American Idol winner Phillip Phillips released "Home" in 2012. (Of course, he had his own publicity from the show to help him out!)
"This is all happening so fast," Shawn told Fuse in 2014. "A few months ago I wasn't this popular and people didn't know about my music, and now all of the sudden there are screaming girls down the block. They're singing my songs live. It's unbelievable."
Fans everywhere were smitten for Shawn. No surprise, then, that he was handpicked by none other than Taylor Swift to be the opener on the North American leg of her 1989 world tour. The megastar is famous for being hands-on when it comes to her opening acts, and has played a role in launching the careers of now-huge singers like Ed Sheeran, Austin Mahone, and Florida Georgia Line, among others. So what was it like getting the call that he would be opening to packed stadiums for basically the biggest pop artist in the world? "I'm blown away," he told MTV. It "is the coolest tour I could possibly be on ever. You can't really beat that tour so that was the biggest news," he said.
Playing to packed stadiums from coast to coast, Shawn was thrown into the deep end. And he had to learn how to swim — fast. He was a long way from Ontario.
To call it a whirlwind success would be an understatement. "What a year. It's been completely surreal for me," Shawn told Mix 104.1 in Boston. He was already a huge fan of Swift, so to be tapped by her was even more of an honor for the fledgling artist. "[Just a year ago,] I was listening to Taylor Swift's 'Our Song,' knowing every single lyric to that song and not thinking that one day I would be playing in front of a stadium for her," he continued.
His debut album, Handwritten, was released in April 2015, just a month before he hit the road with Swift. It shot straight to #1, thanks again to Shawn's grassroots fan base, who rallied to make the album a smash in its first week. Shawn was the youngest artist to reach #1 in nearly five years, since Justin Bieber hit pay dirt with My World 2.0. (Mendes was 16 years and 8 months when he hit #1; Justin was 16 and 2 months.)
Comparisons aside, Shawn isn't living in the Biebs' shadow by any means. He's no pop confection. It's not about the elaborate staging, the dance numbers, the pyrotechnics. With him, it's all about the music. Shawn sees himself as a singer-songwriter, influenced by artists such as John Mayer and Ed Sheeran. His focus is always, first and foremost, on the music. His sophomore album, 2016's Illuminate, illustrates just how much he's matured as an artist.
When asked by VH1 about his 10-year plan, he responded with his characteristic humility. "I'm always wary on trying to guess. Hopefully I'm still on stage, but if not I'm sure I'll be writing songs somewhere. I'm never going to stop doing music." Indeed, it's his dedication to his craft that's gotten him this far.
Whatever he's doing, it seems to be working. Ask anyone in the Mendes Army and they'll tell you that the best is yet to come.CHAPTER 2
The first thing you notice about Pickering, Ontario, is how pretty it is. Situated on the northern shore of Lake Ontario, it boasts beautiful waterfront views from its beaches and park spaces. Just 40 kilometers east of the city of Toronto (that's 25 miles, for you American readers!), Pickering is a quiet bedroom community of about 90,000 citizens at last census. And among them is none other than Shawn!
Shawn Peter Raul Mendes was born on August 8, 1998, in nearby Toronto. His mother, Karen, is from England and his father, Peter, is Portuguese. (Shawn's second middle name is a nod to his Portuguese heritage.) A sister, Aaliyah, came along five years later.
His parents both worked — his mom as a real estate agent and his dad as an entrepreneur in the restaurant supply business — but they were always spending time together as a family. Shawn is still extremely close with his parents and sister, whom he credits as the key to his success. "They're involved with everything I do," he told the Telegraph.
In fact, it was his sister who had a huge hand in getting his career started in the first place. "My sister recorded like the first 50 Vines I ever did," including the fateful Bieber cover, he told Fusion. "She has to get cred." Later on, the two of them began to record videos of themselves singing together.
There was always lots of love — and fun — to spare in the Mendes home. His parents definitely had a playful side. One holiday ruled over the rest, and it's not what you might think. "My dad takes Halloween serious," Shawn told PopBuzz. "At our house we always dress up and create scenes — like murder scenes. It takes like three weeks. It was always a fun thing as a kid."
And there was always music playing at home. His parents, an early influence on Shawn's taste, had a wide range of musical likes, from country music to reggae to rock 'n' roll. It was as typical to hear the heavy guitars of Led Zeppelin in the house as it was to hear the twang of Garth Brooks.
But while his folks kept the music on steady rotation, neither of them had ever picked up an instrument themselves. Shawn, on the other hand, gravitated toward music and performing. He was a member of the glee club at Pine Ridge Secondary School, and took acting lessons. (To the surprise of no one, he played Prince Charming in one production.) He learned to play the piano and goofed around with his friends making music and just chilling out.
As Shawn started to develop his own musical tastes, he began to gravitate toward one artist in particular. "My friends and I think John Mayer is this music god," he told Seventeen. "We've grown up learning from [him]." Those who know Shawn's music well can see John Mayer's fingerprints there (but more on Mayer's influence later).
He credits Pickering with giving him inspiration as a songwriter. Among other things, it allowed him to dream big. "Growing up in a suburban home the world seems so massive to you. It seems like cities are so big and so far away and there's so much in them. So your imagination runs wild," he told the Toronto Globe and Mail.
It was by all counts a normal and happy early life. He spent his days playing football (or, as they say in America, soccer) and longboarding with buddies, or just running around the neighborhood. And, like most kids, he'd occasionally get into hot water with his parents. "When I was young, one of my best friends threw a ball through my garage window and I took the blame for him. And I got into huge trouble until a couple of years later when I told my dad it wasn't me," he told MTV.
And, like many Canadian boys, he learned how to play hockey. Only it didn't go so well at first. "The first year I started hockey I didn't know how to skate, so I got on the ice with all of the hockey players and we were doing drills where we had to go backwards in figure eights. And I could not skate, and I just kept falling on my butt and it was very embarrassing," he confessed to MTV.
He's also a confessed Harry Potter nut. "Harry Potter is playing 24/7 at my house," he confessed to fans on Twitter. He's read all of the books and seen the movies countless times. He references it constantly on social media. He might even have a crush on one of the characters in the films (here's looking at you, Hermione). And which house of Hogwarts would he be in? "Gryffindor, duh!" he told BuzzFeed.
He has a big crew of guys he still calls his best friends today. "I've been friends with the same five guys for eight years now, so being able to go through all this with them has been incredible," he told the BBC in 2015. "They've known that [making music] has been a dream of mine forever, so for it all to happen in front of them is amazing and they've been so supportive. The best part is, they treat me the same as they did before. So I'm no different in my friends' group."
Though life on the road has taken him away from school, he's managed to keep up with his studies. He had a tutor on tour and did courses online. He also got to have a little fun with his high school classmates, attending his school's prom. And in May 2016 he graduated with his class. To mark the muggle rite of passage, he updated his Twitter account to read "Hogwarts graduate. Full-time wizard now."
He was recently asked what advice he'd give to his younger self, telling BANG Showbiz, "I'd probably tell myself to shut up sometimes and stop being such an annoying little brat and be thankful to your parents because they do so much for you. ... And I would have told myself to start playing guitar a lot younger [he only started playing at 13]."
He's traveled the globe, but no matter where he goes, there's no place like home. "As soon as I get into Canada and I'm on the roads, I feel like I'm at home," he told Just Jared Jr. "You get that home feeling. It's a really comforting feeling. That's what I miss when I'm away."CHAPTER 3
Six Seconds to Stardom
When Vine was founded in 2012, its creators — Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll — never thought about it being a way to launch careers. They were simply looking to create a utility that made it easier for people to splice together and share videos electronically (because video files had been too huge to share via text message or email). "We wanted to build a tool that would easily cut video shots together. That's really all it was," Hofmann toldWired. Then, seemingly overnight, Vine became the video-sharing app.
Consider this: In 2012, Vine was released to the public. Just four months later, Twitter bought it for the tidy sum of $30 million. A good value, it turns out, because by 2015, users were watching Vines at a rate of 1 billion per day. The app had 200 million active users streaming Vine videos each month. And of that user base, 71 percent were millennials. So in that sense, it's not surprising that the medium (with an assist from some other social media sites, of course) has catapulted Shawn to superstardom.
Turns out Shawn had been watching cover videos for years, before Vine was even invented. Like a lot of kids, he watched his fair share of YouTube. "I was super obsessed. ... When I was like 10 I would come home from school and watch them from four o'clock until eight o'clock every night," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I was so intrigued that people took these super popular songs and did them their own way. It really showed me the creativity, how every person sang it their own way and even how they would film and record it."
Shawn's own Internet debut all started back in 2012. No, not on Vine but on, yes, YouTube! He has a few full and partial covers on YouTube that show early promise, including versions of Adele, Hunter Hayes, and Rihanna songs. (How's that for variety?) But he wasn't a very active YouTuber.
He began Vining in the spring of 2013 when he started posting videos he shot with his friends. The very first of them had to have been experimental. It features Shawn in the darkness, backlit by only a sunny window and tagged "my #firstpost on Vine." And indeed, that's what Vine is for many users: a window into a person's life.
Shawn's early Vines show off his playful side. He and his buddies play pranks on one another, goof off at school, hang out at the beach, go swimming, joke with their families. In one Vine he lets a friendly squirrel climb on him. In another, he performs strongman feats with a prop yardstick. He clowns around shooting hoops and making silly faces into the camera. The Shawn we see is anything but serious or brooding or even ambitious — he's just a normal kid who loves his family and friends and doesn't take himself too seriously. In other words, he's the same Shawn legions of fans love today.
The first time Shawn sang on Vine was back in June 2013 — making up funny songs about his friends! And even though he's known for that Bieber cover, his first-ever cover was actually very different. He chose a song by the gone-but-not-forgotten songstress Amy Winehouse, a bonus track on the deluxe edition of her 2006 album Back to Black called "Valerie." The song itself is a sad one, mourning a relationship lost to addiction, but the song gets a little lilt from its reggae-inspired beat. Perhaps that's what attracted Shawn to it (remember, Shawn inherited a love of reggae from his parents).
As time went on, Shawn started to polish his Internet form. He watched YouTube videos and Vines and saw what worked and what didn't. He looked for interesting songs and taught himself how to play the melodies on guitar. He experimented with vocal styles, sometimes posting back-to-back variations on the same tune. In short, he was honing his craft.
An active Viner through the spring and summer of 2013, Shawn received a pretty big shock at the end of July, just a week or so before his 15 birthday. It was seemingly just another Vine — Shawn sitting in his bedroom, strumming the guitar and singing yet another pop song. Cut, uploaded, and live. Except this time ... people noticed.
"I woke up in the morning and looked on my Vine and I had 10,000 followers. It was just an explosion," he told Entertainment Weekly. "I was overwhelmed and didn't even really know what was going on. All I could do was post another one, and it was the same deal, and from there on it was a snowball effect."
Excerpted from Shawn Mendes by Katy Sprinkel. Copyright © 2016 Katy Sprinkel. Excerpted by permission of Triumph Books LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1. Life of the Party,
2. O, Canada,
3. Six Seconds to Stardom,
4. The MAGCON Family,
5. Something Big,
6. Giving Back,
7. Success Is "Handwritten",
8. Everything Is "Illuminated",
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Shawn Mendes is a very great guy and is very inspiring. He deserves to be rewarded for his good singing. Everyone loves Shawn Mendes and his voice. He should have a chance to visit kids around the world. Thank you Shawn Mendes
Sameeeeer and treat you better
You are such an amazing talented teenage boy who has an incredible strong and unique voice. There are so many reasons why I, along with so many others, LOVE your music. Your songs have so much meaning and I for one love how you have this acoustic style. I too write songs, Ive written 5 songs. Lyrics though, not the music, I have some trouble with getting the music started. But Im not anybody big, Im just a 13 yr old girl. Anyway, I 1,000% totally support you!!! I hope to see you get some awards at the AMAs this year. I just have to say, your performance at the 2016 AMAs was amazing. You are such an inspiration to me. I love you and sooooooooo hope to meet you one day!!! - Lexi
I love you -shawn mendez