In the midst of his sold-out North American arena tour and his Camila Cabello collab “Señorita” sitting at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, Shawn Mendes has plenty to celebrate on his 21st birthday today (Aug. 8). But thanks to his hit-filled catalog, Mendes has had a lot to celebrate for the past five birthdays — and this year, Billboard wants to join the party by highlighting his best songs to date.
Mendes has grown immensely over past five years, and while that’s certainly apparent in his bulked-up appearance now, his songs are also indicative of that. From his acoustic debut single in 2014 to the sultry Latin-inspired “Señorita,” Mendes has delivered hit after hit, getting more daring with his production and his lyrics along the way.
Wish Mendes a happy birthday by checking out Billboard‘s picks for Mendes’ best songs below.
“In My Blood”
Arguably Mendes’ most anthemic song to date, “In My Blood” is also one of his most vulernable. As he addresses his anxiety with pained lyrics like “I’m looking through my phone again, feeling anxious/ Afraid to be alone again, I hate this,” the song builds from slow burning verses into a roaring chorus, all of which makes the song raw and real — and incredible.
“A Little Too Much”
Three years before “In My Blood,” Mendes delivered a similar sentiment with “A Little Too Much,” just from a third-person perspective. The acoustic track sees Mendes narrating the story of a girl who struggles with anxiety, reassuring her that she’s not alone and can get through tough times. It’s a touching message that hits home, whether you needed to hear it or not.
Mendes spiked up the sex appeal on his self-titled LP, and “Nervous” may be the best representation of that. The combination of the song’s low-thumping bass line and Mendes’ sultry vocals make for one of his sexiest songs to date.
After releasing the heartfelt acoustic tune “Life of the Party” and the pounding track “Something Big” in 2014, Mendes dropped his first heartbreak track in 2015, and proved himself a jack of all (song) trades. While the lovelorn lyrics of “Stitches” are a little cheesy (“And now that I’m without your kisses/ I’ll be needing stitches”), they are certainly relatable for anyone who has been hurt by a lover — but the racing beat makes the song more fun to sing than painful.
“Treat You Better”
As if Mendes hadn’t won the hearts of millions with the sweet lyrics and hooky tunes on his debut album, the first single from his second LP really made people fall in love. A confident plea for a girl to let him treat her right, “Treat You Better” makes anyone wish they were the one he’s fighting for.
“Lost In Japan”
After kicking off his third LP with an arena rock-style single, Mendes completely switched gears for the second release from Shawn Mendes. “Lost In Japan” is his most production-heavy track (especially when Zedd got a hold of it), with a funky beat and alluring vocals that come together for one of Mendes’ most experimental songs so far.
“If I Can’t Have You”
Mendes followed his masterful 2018 self-titled album with yet another showcase of his musical versatility. “If I Can’t You” takes similar Mendes-esque swoon-worthy lyrics and lays them over a synth-heavy, piano-laced melody. The super-catchy tune clearly resonated, too, earning Mendes his first No. 2 hit on the Hot 100.
“There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back”
Just when Mendes’ fans may have thought he’s heartbroken after “Mercy,” he issued this banger that reassured them he has bounced back. Between the racing melody and fiery lyrics of “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” it’s easy to tell Mendes had as much fun making the song as fans do listening to it.
“Where Were You in the Morning?”
Another representation of Mendes’ maturity on his self-titled album, “Where Were You in the Morning?” is a tale of a one-night stand — perhaps his most risqué topic yet. Mendes took an R&B-flavored route on the song, which makes it feel like more of a slow jam than a bummed-out story of getting ghosted in real life.
Sort of like a “Stitches” 2.0, “Mercy” is another plea for a lover to quit playing with his heart. But the pounding production and Mendes’ fervent vocals make the song feel more intense, especially because the lyrics aren’t quite so juvenile.
“Fallin’ All In You”
“Fallin’ All In You” combines a sway-along, guitar-plucked melody with Mendes’ tender tone as he drops sweet lines like, “You’re bringing out a different kind of me.” It’s easily one of the most romantic songs on Mendes’ third album, if not in his entire catalog.
“Don’t Be A Fool”
While heartbreak is a common theme in Mendes’ discography, “Don’t Be A Fool” is one of his most original takes on it, as he advises a lover to move on because he’s too busy for a relationship. But even despite using the word “fool,” Mendes lets his subject down easy, particularly thanks to the doo-wop-inspired melody that makes the song (and breakup) feel a little less painful.
There aren’t many guitar-less songs in Mendes’ catalog, but “Perfectly Wrong” shows that he doesn’t need his guitar to shine. In fact, the piano-heavy song helps bring out the pain in Mendes’ voice as he copes with the end of a relationship that he knows isn’t going to work in the long run.
Before “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back” and “In My Blood,” Mendes first brought his dynamo to “Something Big.” The Handwritten track features a pounding beat and fast-paced guitar, but perhaps the most foreshadowing the song offers is the titular lyric, “Something big I feel it happening.” If only he knew what was coming just five years later.
Mendes teased a more provocative vibe on Shawn Mendes last year, but his 2019 Camila Cabello team-up may be his most steamy release yet (especially thanks to the hot-and-heavy music video). Though Cabello is the one to deliver the raciest “Señorita” lyric, “You say we’re just friends/ But friends don’t know the way you taste,” the song shows yet another level of maturity and fearlessness from Mendes. And with a six-week run in the top five of the Hot 100, “Señorita” is even further proof that Mendes’ has plenty more hits yet to come.