Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber got together for their first-ever collaboration, to battle their inner ‘monsters’. Mendes started to write the song three years ago, let it fall on the backtrack for a while and picked it up again this year. The theme of the track kept being relevant to him and the idea of releasing it always seemed appealing. About three months into their newly formed friendship, Mendes got Bieber to collaborate on ‘Monster’ and his heart was immediately in it.
‘Monster’ hits close to home for the Canadian popstars, as they sing about their personal experience with the highs and lows of fame and their need for self-love. Both singers were introduced into the fragile world of fame at a fairly young age. Bieber signed to Island Records at just fourteen years old whilst Mendes was fifteen. They’re constantly being watched because of their constant turmoil of making number one hits and touring around the world. These events created an immense pressure to keep up a perfect image for the world to see.
‘Monster’ starts off with an emotional Mendes singing: “You put me on a pedestal and tell me I’m the best / Raise me up into the sky until I’m short of breath.” The song tracks the path to fame and how the world puts celebrities on a pedestal yet this is not the only thing this songs is about, it is also about the internal conflict they have created for themselves. “At first I was writing it out of angst of being a celebrity but as I grew it became more about that the idea of perfection is not real. It’s okay to mess up sometimes,”, Mendes explains.
While Mendes stays, apart from the occasional joint he smokes with his friends, conflict-free, Bieber messed up several times with his bad-boy antics. In the second verse, he gets really personal about his rocky teenage years in stardom – going from one of the most loved and adored people in the world to the most judged and hated: “I was fifteen when the world put me on a pedestal / I had big dreams of doing shows and making memories / Made some bad moves trying to act cool, upset by their jealousy / Lifting me up, lifting me up / And tearing me down, tearing me down/ I’ll take responsibility for everything I’ve done / Holding it against me like you’re the holy one.”
In the video clip, directed by Colin Tilley, the Canadian stars cross paths as they discover a white platform – that signifies the pedestal of the song -, in the middle of the woods. The duo gives a moving performance on top of the platform while lightning flashes all around them. Their simple dress-code and the dark, moody setting of the video clip compliment the vulnerability of the song perfectly.
The self-awareness of both Mendes and Bieber shows a lot of growth as an artist and a human being. Unlike other hits of the famous singers, ‘Monster’ isn’t a love-ballad or a groovy pop-song, but the raw, emotional, and honest lyrics, combined with the catchy midtempo pop melody and their vulnerable falsetto’s make a perfect recipe.
Text by: Lien Joos