Shawn Mendes Talks 'Stitches' Entering the Top 40: 'It's Not Easy To Have a Radio Hit'

Austin Hargrave
Shawn Mendes photographed on March 27, 2015 at the Hollywood & Vine Lofts in Hollywood.

The Top 40 hit is “about feeling heartbroken and emotionally beaten up,” the rising pop star tells Billboard.

Shawn Mendes celebrated his 17th birthday earlier this month, and with a No. 1 debut album and Taylor Swift stadium tour already under his belt in 2015, the Canadian singer-songwriter just notched another big accomplishment. “Stitches,” the latest single from his Handwritten album, rises 42-35 on the Hot 100 chart, becoming his second Top 40 hit (“Life of the Party” peaked at No. 24 last year) and his first Pop Songs entry, where it scores a 17 percent plays gain and moves up to No. 26.

“It’s not easy to have a radio hit,” Mendes tells Billboard. “You can feel the difference between ‘Stitches’ and my other songs — when I’m opening for Taylor Swift shows, they’ll know the song when I play it. ‘Stitches’ is very me, and it has connected with my fans in the way I wanted it to. It’s a great feeling.”

The video for “Stitches,” which has over 15 million YouTube views, finds Mendes battling an unknown force in a parking lot. The clip encapsulates the song’s lyrical focus — feeling bruised, but not necessarily in a romantic sense.

“It’s more about feeling heartbroken and emotionally beaten up,” Mendes explains, “but that can be taken in different ways, in any type of relationship. It doesn’t have to be about a girl.”

Shawn Mendes' 'Handwritten' Scores No. 1 Album Debut

So has Mendes ever needed actual stitches? “When I was 13, I cut the back of my leg open and got 14 stitches,” he says. “I was trying to step over a guardrail, and it sucks because I easily could have walked around it. A week before that, I had broken my wrist, and a week after getting stitched up, I went in for appendicitis. That was a weird month.”

Watch the acoustic version of Mendes’ “Stitches,” featuring Hailee Steinfeld, below: