A Closer Listen: Uncover the True Meaning Behind Shawn Mendes' Biggest Songs


If there's one thing any Shawn Mendes fan knows he can do, it's write one amazing song. Seriously, he manages to tug at your heartstrings with his thoughtful lyrics that he sets to some seriously catchy tunes you can't seem to get out of your head. The perfect combo if we say so ourselves. But have you ever wondered who or what exactly inspired these thoughtful tunes? We know we can't be the only ones! Shawn sings with so much emotion, it's clear that whatever led him to write these songs truly meant something to him. So we're here to uncover the stories behind some of his biggest hits from his second album Illuminate, since we're sure every fan wants to know what inspired these songs. Here's what we uncovered:


This song is super intense and you would think came from a place of major heartbreak, or the fact that Shawn cares about something so much, that it can actually break him if things go wrong. You might automatically think he was talking about a relationship with a special someone in his life but he revealed it's not a someone, but a something. This song is all about his strong connection to music.

"The truth is about that song, it's not even actually about a girl. It's actually about when you love something so much, like for instance how I feel about making music, singing and my career, when you love something so much, sometimes it kind of kills you," Shawn said in an interview with Kiss FM UK. "You suffocate in it and you just want it to be perfect and when it's not you explode. That's kind of what I was writing the whole song about. And it's cool because you can obviously take it as the meaning of it being a girl, but anything you truly love with passion can do that to you."

"Three Empty Words"

This song is one the saddest Shawn's ever recorded, since it's about saying goodbye to a relationship he had grown comfortable in, but it's not just working out and he just physically can't say those three little words, "I love you" anymore. It no longer has any meaning, hence why they're now "empty." We know, DRAMATIC. Shawn explained that this one was inspired by something he actually went through.

"It's a pretty personal song about a relationship with a girl I had and I think it's beautiful lyrically," Shawn said during an interview. "[It's not hard to write about], I like to. I'm sure [she's heard it]."

"Treat You Better"

Shawn's first new single from this album is a total jam. That beat is everything and while the song is fun, the lyrics are all about how he's telling a girl that he can treat her better than the guy she's with. The music video is even more powerful though, portraying a young couple who have found themselves in an unhealthy relationship.

Showcasing an abusive relationship wasn't the inspiration for the song, although that's what Shawn aimed to do with the video, but he explained to People that he wanted to generally get the message out that couples should "treat each other right."

"Personally, I’ve seen that happen wrong in a lot of different ways, emotionally and physically. I just wanted to spread the message that it shouldn’t be that way," he said about the song.

"There's Nothing Holdin' Me Back"

Shawn's most recent tune is an upbeat, more dance-floor ready track and the video nearly sent everyone into a full on freak-out. It basically shows us all what he's like as a boyfriend so you know, the fandom was naturally reduced to a puddle of feels. But the story behind this song is actually quite interesting since he admitted that it's not based on real people at all.

"I was reading a movie script that I was possibly going to be in and the girl who "my character" kind of falls in love with I actually really loved, like I really liked the character, so I wrote the song about her. So it's not a real girl, that one isn't a real girl," Shawn explained during a Q & A with some fans before one of his shows.


This is a bit of a deep cut on the album, but those who know it are most likely just dying to get some details. This one seems super personal and while Shawn hasn't publicly had a girlfriend, he's for sure had some romantic relationships he's kept pretty quiet, one of them being the inspiration behind this song.

"[It] is about a girl older than me who I hooked up with, but the next day was so scared because of how young I was. I have a sore spot for older people who are weird around younger people," he confessed to Billboard.

OK so note to self, don't ever bring up age when around Shawn. Good to know.


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