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Album Review: Mendes Latest Strikes a Chord with Teens

By Kimberly Landeck, Production Manager

Here’s to the struggles of being a teenager, of learning how to live while fighting down the endless pit of work from your classes. Here’s to feeling like “giving up but [knowing you] just can’t.” If you’ve ever trudged through a high school campus, you know what I’m talking about. But this is not just the words of one fellow high schooler to another. Even pop stars can relate. Shawn Mendes’ new release “In My Blood” in his album Shawn Mendes focuses on the struggles one undertakes when going through a difficult time in life, while summoning the determination to keep going. Not only is this an important life lesson, it includes a number of stylistic elements that enhance the quality of the pop-rock tune.

The simple beat of the melody written by Shawn Mendes, Geoff Warburton, Teddy Geiger and Scott Harris highlights the moving lyrics to the song. “In My Blood” opens with an acoustic guitar playing TAB chords. This is quickly followed by a consistent tap on the drums. When the chorus is first sung at 1:08, a subtle drum crash is added to the background. The suspenseful pause of every instrument-except for the electric guitar-and the absence of background vocals before the climax of the song (2:43), reels in the audience with its simple yet unexpected twist.

The last minute of the song will always be important, but in the music video, a visual representation of the lyrics holds important symbolism. In the beginning, we see Mendes “laying on a bathroom floor, feeling anxious,” but by the end, flowers and grass have bloomed, covering the dark tile. This could signify that throughout the video, Shawn’s struggle to find himself amidst the anxiety he goes through comes to a realization of peace and new beginnings. As JustRandomThings interpreted, the “vines and flowers [in the music video’s end] would generally represent life and new beginnings.”

For high school students, this song can hold a lot of inspirational importance. Do you ever feel “overwhelmed and insecure“ hoping that it “gets better” while asking yourself “does it ever?” Even though Shawn stated that the song was intended to be “more about me,” (March 23, 2018 Billboard interview) listeners benefit from the song as well. As Kathy Moua- a senior at JFK-said, “it helps to know that the icons we idolize go through similar feelings too…[it] ensures us that we are not alone.”

If you take a closer look at the lyrics, you might see aspects of their own lives they are struggling with right now. Kathy Moua also noted that Shawn Mendes’s song does “not stop” with teenagers. It “relates to everyone as a whole.”

Unlike his past albums (Handwritten and Illuminate), Shawn Mendes includes songs that touch on a more mature style of music that heavily utilizes techniques used by a variety of artists.

As Mendes said in a Billboard interview: “I wanted to make a Kings of Leon” album” with other artistic influences such as the electric-genius- Zedd featured in “Lost In Japan.” Mendes’s new album was inspired by his current music go-tos: Justin Timberlake, Kanye West, Daniel Cesar, Ed Sheeran and John Mayer.

Well-renowned critics point out that this notable difference from past singles is far from a bad thing. Jon Caramanica from The New York Times praises this new “scarred and forlorn” take on Mendes’ music. His views were supported by Billboard’s Gil Kaufman, who considered In My Blood to be “one of Mendes’ most mature efforts to date”. Another critique by Abby Jones listed this song as his best single to date. “In My Blood” is impossible to get out of your head- you can’t forget this song once you hear it. You can try to run from it, but I bet it “isn’t in [your] blood!”

The song has earned a number of awards including a Teen Choice Award for Choice Pop Song. Nominations for the song include the MTV Video Music Award for Best Pop Video, MuchMusic Video Award for Video of the Year, and People’s Choice Award for Favorite Song. “In My Blood” is impossible to get out of your head- you can’t forget this song once you hear it. You can try to run from it, but I bet it “isn’t in [your] blood!”

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