It has been almost a month to the day since Shawn Mendes snapped and made it impossible for me to pretend he doesn’t exist. Since Shawn released his two latest, strongest and sexiest singles, In My Blood and Lost in Japan, he has only continued to prove that he’s worthy of our attention.
Shawn Mendes proved his worth so much that Duana and Lainey dedicated a portion of the last episode of Show Your Work to his work and the work it takes to make a pop star. An integral component of the pop star formula involves the music video. Music videos used to be more of an appointment event. They used to be something you gathered around the TV to watch. Now, they tend to be smart marketing tools and often just elaborate attempts to go viral but they are no less essential to an artist’s trajectory.
Yesterday, Shawn Mendes released the music video for In My Blood and I’m impressed. Again, Shawn Mendes has shown artistic maturity and depth that I did not expect. In My Blood is a song about Shawn’s battle with anxiety. He’s spoken openly about his struggle to cope with anxiety and how much writing this song helped that process. The visuals that accompany In My Blood succeed at doing exactly what a music video should and that’s enhance the message of the song.
The video focuses on Shawn, lying on the floor, barefoot and seemingly paralyzed while the world around him literally starts caving in, just as the lyrics suggest. That might sound like a cheesy, on-the-nose interpretation of the song but as the camera zooms closer and closer into Shawn, it feels more and more like you’re watching a panic attack in real time. I struggle with anxiety and panic attacks too. I had a panic attack two weeks ago and I lay on the floor of my closet for what felt like hours, praying to Beyoncé that it would pass. Watching In My Blood took me right back to that floor. The video’s simplicity and relatability is powerful. See for yourself and meet me on the other side.
It’s important that an artist on the verge of grown-ass pop stardom is using his platform to shed light on a struggle that many of his peers, famous or not, share with him. According to research in 2016, depression and anxiety in high school kids have steadily been on the rise since 2012. That same data from the National Institute of Mental Health, quoted by TIME, found that about 30% of teen girls in the U.S. have anxiety disorders. Teen girls are Shawn’s most loyal demo. Sure, some of them are just watching In My Blood and thinking about how stupidly beautiful he is (he is really, ridiculously attractive) but maybe some of them saw their own struggles and chose to finally speak up about it and get help. Shawn’s been open about going to therapy and working on his own self-care. Throughout this press tour with this particular song and music video, Shawn Mendes is going to have to talk about his anxiety over and over again. He’s no longer just talking to his fan-base of teen girls, he’s attempting to broach a whole other demographic. I don’t mean at all to suggest that Shawn Mendes is using his mental health strategically but the fact that he can be so open about something so personal, which still has major stigma attached, is appealing to every single demographic. By delving into deeper topics, inadvertently, Shawn is becoming an adult.
One of the reasons I didn’t care about Shawn Mendes was that I never had a reason to care. He was a boring baby lamb with moderately catchy pop songs. A month later, Shawn Mendes is a grown-ass man showing vulnerability on a massive stage and mastering the art of subtlety in music videos. I’ve compared In My Blood to Wrecking Ball musically. What do you remember about that music video? The close-up shot of Miley singing to camera with a single tear? Or her writhing around on a wrecking ball which now that I think of it I doubt anyone would classify as subtle? Either way, those two scenes from Wrecking Ball are simple and memorable without pyro and over-the-top action scenes. In My Blood has the same effect. I make this comparison because you could argue that Wrecking Ball further catapulted Miley into full-blown adult pop stardom.
If you’re waiting for Shawn’s make-out-with-a-model, grown and sexy music video, my bet is that it’s coming with Lost in Japan because goddamn, that song is still so hot. I have no idea how we got here but the next Shawn Mendes music video drop is going to be an event for me. Who am I?
I’ll leave you with Shawn’s very sexy cover of Psycho, a song by the abomination masquerading as a rapper that will forever be remembered as the dude who opened for Beychella. I refuse to listen to Pocket Lint (that’s what I call Post Malone because he looks like a fluff of lint someone pulled out of the pocket of their dirty jeans) so this was the first time I heard the song and I LOVE it. Let’s pretend the other version doesn’t exist.