Article by Rikki Red
As soon as I heard that Shawn Mendes and Justin Bieber had a possible collaboration coming, my hopes reached sky-high. Although I'm not on the "stan" level for either of them, it would be silly not to be a fan. I've often asked myself what they put in the water in Canada to produce such talent, so this duo is nothing short of a dream come true.
Rumors speculated like wildfire throughout the fandoms once Mendes posted his tracklist (shown to the left) with "Monster (shawn mendes & _______) and the pair commented back and forth to each other's Instagram posts.
What would "Monster" be about? Was it going to be sexy? Was it going to be on a level like "Wonder" or "In My Blood" were? I'm not sure that anything could've prepared the fandom for exactly what they got.
Speaking with Bieber, Mendes told us, "At first I was writing it out of the angst of being a celebrity. You know, feeling like my life was being watched all the time. As I grew it became more about like this idea of perfection is not real. it’s like you just have to surrender and kind of let go and be and love yourself. That pedestal is not only what society puts us on, it’s what I put myself on. And I had to just be like ‘you’re cool even if you miss some note’. To put it basically, in the bigger picture, it’s not just about singing it’s about everything in life. It’s okay to mess up. That’s where I was coming from with it."
The video matches the vibes of the song perfectly, the singers alone in the dark on a platform that they put themselves on. From the beginning, each of them recording videos to showcase their talent on YouTube, all the way to the present tense where they perform for stadiums full of people, fame was their choice. However, fame always presents two faces: the good and the bad. This song does a brilliant job showcasing each face.
Shawn starts out the song with, "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. Fill me up with confidence, I say what's in my chest. Spill all my words and tear me down until there's nothing left, rearrange the pieces just to fit me with the rest."
It's clear that life in fame, and even in general, is bittersweet. We can see only snippets of the life that celebrities are living, and even in that small snippet, we can see overwhelming amounts of both adoration and hate. It's like that narcissistic, gaslighting kind of relationship where you're love-bombed one minute, only to be completely torn down the next. The kind of love that you stay involved with because the good moments seem good enough to put up with the bad, no matter how bad.
After the chorus, Justin chimes in with some experiences of his own, similar to how he does in his single "Lonely." Most of us know about the issues that Bieber has faced along the way and since we don't know him on a personal level, it can be human nature to hold them against him, even though we don't know the whole story. This verse puts things into perspective, and I'm hopeful that people will understand that we all make mistakes and have shortcomings. It's just part of the human experience.
"I was fifteen when the world put me on a pedestal, I had big dreams of doing shows and making memories," he sings. My mind takes me back to when I was fifteen and how I felt as though I was crumbling under pressure. I can't imagine trying to navigate through those waters whilst on the front covers of trashy magazines that only cared about making another dollar, and not the mental health of an adolescent.
In the bridge, he shows quite a bit of growth as he sings, "I had a chip on my shoulder, had to let it go, cos unforgiveness keeps them in control. I came in with good intentions, then I let it go." This weighty statement, paired with the last line of his verse, "I'll take responsibility for everything I've done, holding it against me like you're the holy one," proves that he knows he's made mistakes but that he's made the needed changes to better himself. He also gives us a reminder that he's not the only one who's made poor choices, we're not as holy as we sometimes behave like we are.
While each of their personal experiences speak to the heart, the chorus brings them together and you see that even as different as they are in their personal lives, they experience the same things. I'm on an entirely different path than either of them and I relate to the song to the point where it brought tears to my eyes.
"What if I trip, what if I fall? Am I the monster? Just let me know. What if I sin, what if I break?" It's vital that we reach inward and make note of any judgments that we may hold against people. We're all human, we all struggle with making wise decisions sometimes. Have there been moments where you've felt like you're doing everything that you can to hold it together because you're so terrified of what people might say or think if you finally do break? I've certainly had those experiences.
This song is a great reminder, especially in 2020 where life as we know it has totally changed, to offer forgiveness. Not only for ourselves, but for other people. As much pressure as we're placing on other individuals, we can almost guarantee that they're putting even more pressure on themselves.
If we all offered grace and kindness more freely, I truly believe the world would be a much brighter place. I'm grateful that music transcends all boundaries because this is a message that we could all afford to hear and put in practice.
Check out the song and music video below, as well as on any other streaming platforms: