Who are they?
Charlie Puth and Shawn Mendes are pop stars. Not top tier yet. We’re talking dress circle at best.
How did they get big?
Youtube and Vine, respectively. Isn’t the music business magical?
How old are they?
Charlie is 26. Shawn is 19.
Their breakout hit?
Charlie Puth is best known for his syrupy guest verse on ‘See You Again‘ from the Furious 7 soundtrack. After that, his first single was ‘Marvin Gaye’, which is honestly one of the worst pop songs you will ever hear, and a strong argument for the repression of the arts.
Shawn Mendes’ first single ‘Life of the Party’ is merely boring but not to fall behind, his breakout smash ‘Stitches’ will have you wishing people avoided being teenagers entirely, and were instead born in their early 30s. Without a guitar.
Their latest album?
Charlie Puth’s Voicenotes is un-ironically a very solid listen. He’s really found his own voice, and uses this voice to sing songs about being unbelievably petty. ‘Attention’, ‘LA Girls’ and especially ‘How Long’ are #FirstWorldProblems through and through, with Puth complaining about the minor inconveniences that come with being a complete man whore.
The writing is pretty sharp actually, with some funny couplets peppering Voicenotes. The music meanwhile is a mixture of 80s yacht rock, 90s R&B and 00s balladeering.
Shawn Mendes third album is merely mediocre. There is some expansion of sound and some catchy hooks, plus the undeniable pull of Mendes’ croon. However Shawn Mendes (Self-title the first album – or the second one if you’re Sheryl Crow. But I mean, that’s Sheryl Crow. Who the fuck are you pal?) never diverges from the middle of the road.
Are they any good?
Both are talented, but it’s more a case of right place right time. Puth to his credit has really developed a distinct sense of style and handled production of his second album entirely by himself. He may still fall foul of drippy ballads (there are a few on Voicenotes) but his blend of funk, R&B and mainstream pop is quite engaging.
Mendes meanwhile, seems all over the place. While his image has been built almost entirely around his guitar, his guitar-playing is never the focal point of his music. It’s a PR gimmick to separate him from his contemporaries. Shawn Mendes is not a good album however there are some good tracks on there. ‘Lost In Japan’ and ‘Particular Taste’ present a more mature and idiosyncratic sound, a kind of rubbery & mischievous pop-rock blend. More like that.
Will they stick around?
Hard to say. Charlie Puth has essentially abandoned any claims to poster boy. He grew his hair out in a messy ’80s up-do, and dad-dances in all his videos. He’s embraced dorkishness with relish, which is endearing. It also means that less teen girls will be buying his records, and that is the crowd he generally relies on.
Mendes by contrast is a confirmed pin-up, and most people who like him and like his music are there for his image. He’ll find it easier to stick around whereas Puth, who has taken the hard route, may find himself in the wilderness before too long.
Charlie Puth. You may be put off by his choir-boy voice, but Voicenotes is worth your time. His music is light-hearted, funky and unlike Mendes, he doesn’t pander. You don’t like late 80s / early 90s R&B? That’s your problem…