Review: Shawn Mendes comes back with a bang in “Wonder”

Following the massive success of his self-titled 2018 album, the Canadian singer-songwriter returns to the music scene with a much anticipated single

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Photo Island Records

The single cover for Shawn Mendes’ latest single, “Wonder.” This single comes after a lengthy silence from Mendes.

Anna Woodward, Editor-in-Chief

No matter how many reviews I write or how many artists I discover, I will always look forward to staying up for a new Shawn Mendes single. After a diminished presence on social media, Mendes revealed that he was releasing a single on Oct. 2 earlier this week, and later, an album on Dec. 4. “Wonder,” while stylistically unique, carried on the Shawn Mendes tradition of breaking that silence gracefully.

Mendes was the first artist I ever gravitated to on my own in 2015, and hearing that he’s working on new music is always thrilling to hear. Unlike the majority of his initial premieres, Mendes released a single and a music video at the same time, which was even more exciting.

The music video was definitely the most “pop” one that Mendes has released. There were dancers, a cliff and other aspects that made it an exciting and slightly cliched but lovable video to watch. Considering that this is his first single and video in a while, I’ll take what I can get, I’m not picky.

Mendes has referenced his love for Harry Potter in countless interviews, so it was no surprise to see a train reminiscent of the Hogwarts Express and a forest similar to the one Ron, Hermione and Harry fled from death eaters in throughout the video. Understandably, it was Mendes in the place of witches and wizards.

While it’s too soon to confirm whether this was intentional, I took it as Mendes staying in touch with his roots and keeping the things that inspired him as a child no matter how successful he becomes. It was refreshing to see a popstar include a subtle yet important touch to a music video, making it all the more personal.

I see “Wonder” as taking some of the best aspects from Mendes’ previous albums and bringing them to a new level, most notably the ballad vibe of this song. In the past, songs like “Don’t Be A Fool” from his 2017 album Illuminate have stood out to fans for their soulful tone.

In comparison, “Wonder” is a ballad song instead of a song with some short ballad verses. Other albums have sounded more conservative towards this style, but this song displays Mendes’ range from full and vocal belts to softer high notes. This is a song I would love to hear live, simply because it’s a great combination of singalong lyrics and a catchy beat.

The only critique I have for this song is that the lyrics were a bit too repetitive. In previous songs, I’ve liked how Mendes stuck with a conventional song structure, with some golden lines that make his songs pop dropped within. In “Wonder,” his lyrics are much more repetitive, but the repetition fits well with the beat of this song. It’s also important to note that with every album, Mendes tends to experiment with a new style, and “Wonder” is no different.

The main lyric “I wonder what it’s like to be loved by you,” is simple yet conveys a new meaning for Mendes. In the past, his songs have focused on the relationship aspect of love, or the aftermath of a harsh breakup-it’s interesting to see him take on a new, pining perspective. It doesn’t have the same “wow” factor as previous songs, but blends beautifully with the instrumental.

If anything, a variety of deep meanings and lyrics would’ve clashed with the heartfelt and grabbing instrumental, so this more repetitive style isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The background choir, consistent beat and crescendos make up for lyrics that otherwise would’ve been slow if Mendes had opted to make this song a slower one.

Changing and evolving music style is nothing new for Shawn Mendes. From his 2015 debut acoustic-based album Handwritten to the pop-heavy singalong Shawn Mendes, he has experimented with new styles every chance he gets. This is something I’ve loved seeing, and “Wonder” sets the stage for what is hopefully going to be a new and exciting album that retains the same Shawn Mendes flair.