By Kirsten Coachman
“If I tell the world that I’m just a normal human–are they going to stop, like, coming to the shows or listening to the music? And like, is all the craziness gonna stop? And then you’re like, well, maybe I shouldn’t tell them. Maybe I should keep the trick up. Maybe I should pretend that I’m Superman for a little bit longer.”
It takes a little over halfway through the new Shawn Mendes Netflix documentary, Shawn Mendes: In Wonder, for the ever-popular singer-songwriter to offer up these questions about his career and authentic self when they really should have served as the starting point of this 83-minute documented look into his world. Instead, viewers are handed a rather aimless behind the scenes look at Mendes’s life during his 2019 world tour.
Audiences are introduced to key people in Mendes’s world, the manager, the record producer, the best friend, his family, as well as his well-publicized girlfriend, Camila Cabello, but they don’t really meet the human behind singer–not in a real way. His career is retraced, starting in the Vine video days to the Taylor Swift 1989 tour and the madness that is his professional life in 2019 to mere glimpses of the recording process for his new album, Wonder, out this Friday.
Look, behind the scenes documentaries on artists are great–I even enjoy that they’re becoming a staple in recording artists’ new album promo. But In Wonder misses the mark. Fans already know that Mendes is talented, successful, and adorable to boot, but who is he at this point in his life while recording this record? We know that he’s in love and that’s an obvious influence on his upcoming album. But when life is quiet–away from the stage and the screams–how does it impact him and his music–or does it? How has his creative process evolved from the self-titled album to Wonder?
And yes, audiences are treated to precious morsels of new songs as well as the aforementioned glimpses into the recording of Wonder–but it would have been far more interesting if this footage was complemented by Mendes discussing how he’s grown as an artist in the studio and whether he feels more comfortable now at the production board with a few albums under his belt. After watching, these were the things I found myself wondering about–no pun intended. Also, did anyone else hope we’d get some insight on how his fire single with Justin Bieber came to fruition?
So, to answer Mendes’s questions–no, his fans will not stop buying his music and merch and tickets to shows, especially if the music continues to be as good as it’s been. I would imagine that he would endeared himself to an even larger audience through this documentary had he taken off the cape and let people truly experience the person behind the music.