Is Shawn Mendes bigger than Bieber? A Toronto Life investigation
When Shawn Mendes first stepped on the scene a few years back, he listed Justin Bieber as one of his musical heroes. The wide-eyed barely-teen from Pickering had some catching up to do if he wanted to rival Biebs, who already had his fair share of chart toppers and a reputation as a delinquent genius and monkey felon. But over the past year, Mendes has made a pretty big name for himself—which makes us wonder whether he might surpass his music crush. Or maybe he already has. We investigate…
Bieber: The “Despacito” remix, which broke the Guinness World Record for the first video to reach 5 billion views on YouTube, earned Bieber some decent attention. Otherwise, his most recent achievement is as poster boy for the “bath leisure” fashion movement, a.k.a. wearing free hotel bath slippers in public.
Mendes: Over the course of 10 days, Mendes landed the cover of Variety’s “Power of Young Hollywood” issue, opened the MTV Video Music Awards and dominated at the MMVAs here in Toronto, beating Drake in overall trophy count and in the sought-after Artist of the Year category.
Song of the summer
Bieber: DJ Khaled’s “No Brainer” ft. Bieber is sitting at 12 on the Billboard charts, but he hasn’t had a solo hit since 2016.
Mendes: The March release of “In My Blood” held a spot on the charts for 23 weeks.
Bieber: The Biebs recently announced his engagement to supermodel Hailey Baldwin who, before she was a Bieber bride-to-be, was rumoured to have a thing with Mendes.
Mendes: Those rumours surfaced after Baldwin attended this year’s Met Gala with Mendes. Soon after, she deleted all traces of him from her Instagram account. But even if Mendes is sweating the engagement news, he isn’t showing it. He says he even sent a congratulatory text.
Bieber: Last month, rumours surfaced that Bieber bought a $5 million waterfront mansion near Guelph, equip with a horse-racing track.
Mendes: Last year, Mendes cut the chord by moving out of his parents’ house in Pickering and into a condo in Toronto.
Fanatical fan base
Bieber: When it comes to devoted followers, the Belieber army has no boundaries: one fan dove in front of a car to get a selfie with him, and a swarm of girls literally kissed the ground he walked on.
Mendes: Some of Mendes’ fans were so excited to see him in concert that they accidentally showed up at the venue an entire year early.
Hair that makes headlines
Bieber: GQ devoted an entire guide to Bieber’s summer locks—a look they’ve dubbed “dirtcore perfection.”
Mendes: The same magazine gave Mendes a shoutout on Grooming Gods (a weekly round-up of good celebrity hair) for his 90s alt-rock look.
Bieber: In the aforementioned DJ Khaled song, Bieber raps, “Him or me, be for real, baby. It’s a no-brainer.” Many have speculated that the line is about Baldwin choosing between the two Canadian hunks. Either way, it’s not exactly a major burn.
Mendes: An alternative conspiracy: the slam could have been in response to Mendes’ Carpool Karaoke session with James Corden, where he admitted he would buy a pair of Bieber’s used underwear, but he said he would cap his bid at $500—which is basically a toonie in Canadian pop star currency.
Seeing as Bieber’s last full album came out in 2015, his ability to stay relevant is impressive, but there’s no question summer 2018 belonged to Mendes. Your move, Biebs.