Rothery Sullivan gives us her take on Mendes' entry for cringiest album of 2020. Wonder, an album dedicated to the other half of the world's smuggest couple and fellow Señorita collaborator, Camilla Cabello, will leave you smiling. Maybe because you've laughed the whole time, or maybe because it's over. Either way, it's worth the listen for the giggle alone.
During my 18-hour layover at Schiphol airport on my way home for the holidays, I listened to the entirety of Shawn Mendes’s new album Wonder from start to finish while on video chat with a friend; my overall consensus was that I had never heard anything more dramatic or cliche in my life, nor had I ever laughed more while listening to an album. I’d first like to say that if you haven’t listened to it yet, you absolutely need to; the melodies are neither original nor inspired, some of the lyrics are entirely stolen from the work of other artists, and the choruses of each song are repeated over and over again. However, I guarantee that Shawn’s vocal range will blow your mind on at least a couple of occasions.
The album is based off of Shawn’s current girlfriend, Camilla Cabello, which is evident after his recent confession in his Netflix Original documentary: "My song comes on the radio or something and I'm like, everything's about you. They've always been about you. She goes, what do you mean? I'm like they're all about you, like every song I've ever wrote.” Personally, I think knowing the subject of these songs gives them a whole new level of meaning - and a whole new reason to appreciate the melodrama behind each song. However, while I did initially listen to the album for comedic purposes, I did enjoy some of the songs (mostly ironically), despite cringing at many.
My favorite ironic songs on the album include Monster (featuring Justin Bieber), mainly for the iconic music video that accompanies it, and Song for No One, which has a Simon-and-Garfunkel-vibe (which is probably evident due to the song title closely resembling Song for the Asking). Personally, my least favorite song on the album is Look Up At the Stars due to the sheer stupidity of the lyrics, which were clearly formed by Mendes attempting to rephrase a bunch of well known metaphors into his own words and stringing them all together in a song. Objectively, though, the worst song on the album is Can’t Imagine, in which one line is repeated eleven times, with only four lines being different; I cannot understand how this song was produced unironically. However, in all seriousness, I did enjoy the song Piece of You, which shows Shawn’s full vocal range, has a deep, catchy bass line and whose lyrics are slightly less cheesy than the others (although they still mimic the lyrics of most pop songs). All in all though, none of these songs made it onto any of my playlists.
The most horrifying part of this ridiculous album is the repetition of lyrics and plagiarism of other artists’ lyrics and songs; Shawn is entirely unable to think up any original material. In his song 24 Hours, he sings, "I heard that once a wise man said, ‘Only fools go rushing in’”, which is an obvious rephrasing from Elvis’ Can’t Help Falling In Love. The repetition of "strawberries'' in Teach Me How to Love seems awfully similar to Harry Styles' hit Watermelon Sugar; the intro to the album has the same opening and melody as Pure Imagination by Gene Wilder. The beat in Piece of You is the same as the beat in Another One Bites the Dust, and the song Dream closely resembles All I Have to Do Is Dream by the Everly Brothers (but in a far worse way, in which Shawn resorts to lyrics as embarrassing as "hello, hello, hello, walking through a meadow"). Shawn also repeatedly mentions "being alone" and "birds'' throughout the album in a sad attempt at creating profound metaphors.
In all honesty, this album lacks talent, depth, meaning and originality. It is truly one of the worst pieces of work I have ever listened to, but I do recommend listening for the laugh.
Top track: Monster (feat. Justin Bieber)