Shawn Mendes ‘In Wonder’: How the singer rose to fame at 20 in post-Justin Bieber era
The documentary is a heartfelt look at a songwriter and performer wrestling with the pressures of stardom and the emotional tolls of coming-of-age while the world watches
Shawn Mendes’ documentary ‘In Wonder’ opens with him walking from a dull and boring backstage to an arena packed with his loyal fans flashing torch lights from their mobile phones. The sequence looks nothing less than a dream as he hugs a fan, takes the stairs to the stage and performs his heart out.
Helmed by veteran music video director Grant Singer, ‘In Wonder’ follows Shawn Mendes’ journey toward self-discovery, after the physical and emotional demands of his rise, and his last world tour pushed him towards a personal and musical reckoning. The documentary is a heartfelt look at a songwriter and performer wrestling with the pressures of stardom and the emotional tolls of coming-of-age while the world watches. Largely framed around his rise and recent tour, the film offers unprecedented access to Mendes’ private life both at home, and while traveling across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia, and features years of footage as he rose from precocious troubadour to global superstar.
In 2019, Shawn Mendes was traversing the globe on a sold-out concert tour in support of his blockbuster self-titled third album. Playing to the tens of thousands of adoring fans that have packed arenas and stadiums is a dream for an artist. It’s the ultimate benchmark of success, but how did he rose to fame at 20 when singers like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato were already ruling the charts. Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber recently collaborated on ‘Monster’ which is a track from Shawn’s upcoming album on December 4, 2020.
It was a dream come true moment for Shawn as there was a time when he used to cover songs by Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Adele and other chart-topping artists on Vine. At a time when Justin Bieber was dropping hits after hits, a young Shawn was trying his best to taste success. But now, since he is famous, he also misses the normal life which he talks about in his documentary. At one point in the docu-film, he asserts, “I’m so grateful. I love these performances. I’ve never had more fun in my life. But at the same time, I just want to hang with my parents and watch movies, drive around a suburb and lay on a soccer field and, you know, smoke a joint and stare at stars with my friends and, like, eat some beef jerky. I miss that right now. It’s pretty intense all the time.”
From a Vine celebrity in 2013 to a teenage heartthrob and to selling out stadiums all in a matter of years has been surreal for the Canadian singer. He once told Billboard, “You’d think, ‘I don’t understand why the kid has so many followers because it’s only six seconds. How are you supposed to know if he’s any good at six seconds?’ But there’s an art behind getting people to be intrigued because you only have six or six and a half seconds to impress people.” Moving from Vine to YouTube covers to releasing an EP in 2014, he has done it all. But, in the post-Bieber era, Shawn understood the importance of being himself and not mimicking others. And that’s’ where he succeeded.
When Justin Bieber took a long break after his album ‘Purpose’ in 2015, it won’t be wrong to assume but that’s when Shawn really tasted success and things fell in place for him. In the documentary, we can see how his fans are going gaga over him as he steps outside from his hotel but throughout the documentary, he makes sure he keeps his ego in check as he feels that can mess things up.
The docu-film cuts back and forth between his tours, backstage rehearsals, tiring studio sessions and live shows. The singer can be seen not taking anything for granted as he strives for perfection. At one point when he had to cancel one of his shows, it is clear how heartbreaking it is for him which tells us how much he appreciates whatever he has achieved so far. At the end of the documentary, he also gives a hint towards his bigger plan, saying, “These next 10 years are when everything I do is going full-speed. It’s like an athlete in their prime. I have to keep going.” Shawn Mendes’ ‘In Wonder’ starts streaming at 12 am PT/3 am ET on Netflix.