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Review: “Monster” didn’t reach the bar

"Monster" had potential, but couldn't live up to other singles

November 20, 2020


Photo Island Records

The single cover for Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes’ collaboration, “Monster,” released Nov. 20.

Justin Bieber and Shawn Mendes have two things in common: being Canadian, and being popular singers. Nov. 20’s “Monster,” a collaboration between the two, proves that those characteristics should stay the only things in common. When I heard that the two were working together, I was intrigued, and a little surprised. Of course, both are pop singers with a tendency to have catchy songs, but I couldn’t envision how they would sound together.

Mendes isn’t a stranger to collaborations. He’s worked with Khalid, Julia Michaels, Camila Cabello and had a verse on Taylor Swift’s “Lover (Remix)” to name a few. However, Bieber is unarguably the biggest star he’s worked with on a full-length song; the collaboration quickly became a subject of conversation for fans.

On Oct. 2, Mendes released “Wonder,” seizing the internet’s attention and setting expectations high for his upcoming Dec. 4 album of the same name. Unfortunately, “Monster” did not live up to those expectations. Mendes and Bieber had the right intentions, but couldn’t get through to their audience.

I wanted to have an open mind, but it was hard to do it with the lack of range in “Monster.” There was no swelling instrumental or passionate piping, which made it hard to love. However, I did enjoy the guitar solo in the last 30 or so seconds. But by the time it began to grow on me, the song was over.

Even with its runtime of 2:58, “Monster” went by too quickly, and lacked any gripping structure. The two didn’t blend together well, and the song sounds thrown together. It fits in with any other song you’d hear on the radio, turned up for simple background noise.

The music video for “Monster” was another element placing it below “Wonder” on the podium. It’s extremely minimalist, with the two standing on a box. There’s a staircase and some effects, but it’s too simple. Simplicity can be well-executed when it has a deeper meaning, but the music video’s set didn’t convey the depth that makes simple music videos thrive. Their movement is awkward, mimicking a middle schooler filming on their iPod touch.

As a single, I would’ve preferred a Mendes solo instead of “Monster.” I understand getting publicity by associating with another star, but this song makes me wonder how the rest of the album will sound. Will it compare to the excitement of “Wonder,” or fall through?  The decision to collaborate with Bieber was exciting, but this song would’ve been completely different as a solo. I can imagine Mendes sticking to his emotional tone, similar to “In My Blood,” and “Wonder,” instead of conforming to a consistent and conservative one.

It’s evident what Bieber and Mendes are saying. Both were thrust into the spotlight as teenagers, and describe the “walking on eggshells” phenomenon that comes with being in the public eye. When reading the lyrics, they’re honest and give listeners a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes. However, in practice, the vocals fail to convey that emotion. The lyrics obviously tell a story, but lack emotion. The two were so close to reaching that standard, but it ultimately felt unauthentic.

I definitely think that this song had potential. Bieber and Mendes are two of the biggest names in music, but I don’t think their styles meshed together well. This collab felt forced, a ploy to put two big names together and get streams instead of working together for personal enjoyment. That being said, this review is not to bash either singer, they’re both very talented. Regardless, in an attempt to shed light on the fatigue of stardom, Mendes and Bieber came across as putting two known names together and rolling with it instead of a soulful account.

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