Teen Culture

Shawn Mendes: Teen Icon

Who was your idol celebrity when you were a teen? Could it have been Denzel Washington or  Carie Fisher? What about Madonna or Rob Lowe? We all have had a celebrity we were head-over-heels for as a teen, thinking that they were too beautiful and talented to do anything wrong. For a lot of teens today, that person is singer/songwriter Shawn Mendes. I was wary of liking Shawn for the longest time, but following his Calvin Klein partnership, 2018 album, and Rolling Stone interview, Confessions of a Neurotic Teen Idol, I can see why so many teens adore him. 

He Makes Fame Look Easy:

Mendes got his start on Vine, the late social media app that allowed users to post six-second videos of anything they wanted. For Shawn, he posted music covers. Most of his Vines consisted of him, his guitar, and a catchy song that he had practiced for hours in order to nail that six-second clip. Covering everything from Bill Withers to Justin Bieber, he built a massive social media fan base and started to tour with his Vine friends. His first single Life of the Party was released in July of 2014 and five short years later he found himself with three #1 albums. Three! THAT’S CRAZY! All he did was sing well, play the guitar, and cover other people’s songs for six-seconds at a time. There are so many teens who are aspiring musicians who emulate Shawn. They hope that posting covers and originals on YouTube every day, will bolster their chance of  “blowing up” as Shawn did. Similar to artists like Ed Sheeran and Tori Kelly, Shawn is proving to teens once again, that it is possible to make it big through social media.

He’s Honest:

If you want to know anything about Shawn’s emotions, read his Rolling Stone interview, Confessions of a Neurotic Teen Idol. Rolling Stone senior editor, Patrick Doyle, followed Shawn around for a few days, interacting with his family, his tour, and his fans. This interview goes into depth about his anxieties of success, comparison to others, assumptions about his sexuality, and authenticity in his music. One cool thing I’d like to point out are his three rules. These are the rules that Shawn makes sure to hold himself to, to be the most authentic version of himself. They are:

  1. Hit the gym every single day
  2. Two vocal lessons per day
  3. Never say no to a selfie

While these rules may not seem much for someone who has easy access to all of these, it does point out the fact that Shawn is doing his best to ground himself in the betterment of self, while juggling the expectations of fans and fame. He recognizes that fans are just as human as he is, and never wants to form that “holier than thou” mentality.

He’s a heartthrob:

When I was a teen, my heartthrobs were Keira Knightley and Beyoncé, both very successful and very attractive. Success and attractiveness have been proven synonymous time after time with celebrity heartthrobs like Justin Bieber, Mariah Carey, and Chris Hemsworth. Shawn is definitely on today’s list of pop culture heartthrobs. He is up there in the line of James Dean, Elvis Presley, George Clooney, and Ryan Reynolds with over 40 million followers on Instagram and a spokesperson partnership with Calvin Klein. It’s pretty clear that he is musically talented, but his good looks have certainly lend themselves to his success.

Shawn Mendes is proven to be a successful, relatable, attractive, catchy, and real popstar that teens today adore. His demeanor makes fame so accessible to GenZ, because they are around social media and music all the time. If you already listen to and like Shawn, great! If you don’t, that’s okay too, but chances are your teen does. If your teen likes Shawn Mendes, having conversations about why they like him, and even giving him a listen, can help you better understand your teen and the world that they live in.

About the Author

Josh Rogers

Josh started as a Web Apprentice in 2015, and after a summer serving at Camp Hidden Lake as the video nerd, Josh is now in Arizona drinking Arizona and doing web things. While taking long walks and listening to hip-hop, he’ll stop to pet a good doggo, and proceed to ask their owner if they’ve ever seen Star Wars. Josh loves the saints and relational ministry as much as he loves Pokémon Go and pizza, and he is ready to serve with a joyful heart.