“Illuminate” by Shawn Mendes

Weekly Music Review

Ravyn Cullor, Web Editor

The new album, “Illuminate,” by Shawn Mendes is beautiful and dynamic and a bit more melancholy than one would expect from an 18-year-old popstar.  

The album came out back in September as Mendes’ second album to be released at the top of the charts. Not only did the album top charts in nine country, and stood within the top ten in 11 others, but it also features a handful of successful singles, including “Treat You Better” and “Mercy,” now his top two most popular songs on Spotify.

Full disclaimer, I am not a huge fan of pop music, nor am I known to “fangirl” over boy bands and what not, but I am obsessed with this album. The album, while not fully acoustic, has a strong acoustic vibe, but is still able to separate the style of each song fairly effectively. Both Mendes’ involvement in the music and the song writing boggles the mind a bit, considering he is about the age of many people at Rocky.

The lyrics in each song have an interesting dynamic, being both relatable for most teens, and giving insight to a life of fame. The songs based in romance swing for darker and lighter aspects of young love, from abusive relationships and unrequited love to falling for someone and sex (oh my!). Some of the messages in the songs even contradict each other, which stands as a testament to how confusing love can be at our age and the pain of finding that many of the expectations society gave us don’t hold up in practice.


There are a handful of songs that talk about how difficult it has been for him to be a young star. “Don’t Be a Fool,” “Understand,” and “Hold On” (found on the deluxe album) all talk about the dark side of the life of a popstar. He talks about having to walk away from relationships and not being able to seek comfort from loved ones because he is always traveling. One song even contemplates whether or not fame has changed who he is, almost like he is trying to convince himself that he won’t follow the path of his preceding male Canadian pop sensation. He sings, “Every time I ask myself ‘am I turning into someone else?’ I’m praying I don’t forget just who I am.”

Overall, the theme of the album seems to be built around the idea of being alone in a crowd. The music is beautiful, he’s a very talented singer, and the topics have an interesting message and an intriguing flow. I love the album, and I really like how Mendes used this album to shed light on problems that many teens and young adults face every day, even dedicating an entire music video to raising awareness for domestic abuse. I will definitely be listening to this album again.