The teen could sell 200,000 first-week downloads of his ballad, setting up a likely top-25 debut on the Hot 100 next week
Shawn Mendes is getting the "Party" started in a big way.
The 15-year-old Canadian pop singer, who first gained acclaim by performing cover songs on Vine and YouTube, is set to storm onto the Billboard Hot 100 next week with his debut single on Island Records, "Life of the Party."
Industry forecasters suggest that the red-hot ballad, released late Wednesday (June 25), might sell upwards of 175,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, June 29. If the week progresses especially well, that number might jump to somewhere near 200,000.
As of this posting, the song is No. 1 on the real-time Billboard Twitter Trending 140 chart (Billboard's up-to-the minute ranking of songs shared on Twitter in the U.S., measured by acceleration over the past hour). It also ranks at No. 1 in the iTunes Store.
Such a sales start, regardless of any early streaming or radio airplay figures, could send "Party" to a possible top 25 debut on the Hot 100. It could also challenge for the top spot on Billboard's Digital Songs chart. Highlights of next week's Hot 100 and Digital Songs will be revealed on Billboard.com and Billboard.biz next Wednesday (July 2), with all charts refreshing the following day.
So far, Island is not planning to actively promote the song to radio. "We wanted to give the fans his first original recording," Island president David Massey tells Billboard exclusively. "Of course, if radio wants to play it, that's fine …
"Reaction from fans has been incredible."
"Party" previews Mendes' debut Island EP, due July 21, featuring originals that Mendes wrote. (He doesn't sport writing credit on "Party.")
A slightly grainy video of Mendes singing the song has drawn more than 75,000 worldwide YouTube views since its posting on Mendes' VEVO channel on Wednesday. Massey says that a proper video will arrive on Tuesday (July 1). "A simple performance piece" is how he describes the forthcoming clip.
What has spurred the song to arrive with such buzz?
Last August, Mendes posted a clip of himself on Vine (the sharing service featuring clips that are six-seconds long) singing fellow Canadian Justin Bieber's "As Long as You Love Me." When Mendes woke up the next morning, his Vine debut boasted 10,000 likes and he had just as many Vine followers.
Fast-forward and Mendes is now the third-most-followed musician on Vine and, in late May, he signed with Universal Music Group subsidiary Island, resulting in "Party." He's also preparing to tour with Austin Mahone, the Vamps and Fifth Harmony in July.
"I think what's going to happen is it's me and the guitar, the most raw experience with me and my fans," Mendes told Billboard earlier this month. "I'm definitely not used to anything that's going on. I'm in awe."
In between, the Toronto-based Mendes won Ryan Seacrest's "Best Cover Song" contest with his take on A Great Big World's "Say Something," the same song that had caught the attention of his now-manager, Andrew Gertler, who'd discovered Mendes online a few months earlier.
Another coup: Ed Sheeran flew Mendes to Los Angeles for dinner after watching videos that Gertler had sent to his publicist. "I feel like he was trying to help me be successful in the industry by giving me all this advice," says Mendes. "He's the most humble guy I've ever met. I forgot he's my idol. I felt like I was in the room with one of my buddies."
Now, Mendes is set to join the likes of Sheeran on the Hot 100.
"Our reason for getting involved with Shawn is not specifically because of his following online," Massey told Billboard following Mendes' signing. "It's great when an artist has a platform, but I think we would have signed Shawn [even] if we discovered him a different way.
"His talent, industry and intelligence are all factors that contribute to wanting to be involved with someone who's so young, so talented and so driven."
Additional reporting by Keith Caulfield