By Brian Ives
Shawn Mendes‘ “Stitches” has been one of the big hits of the summer; it’s currently at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and rising. Besides being a huge pop star, Mendes is a singer/songwriter, and wrote or co-wrote most of the songs on his Handwritten album.
“Stitches,” however, wasn’t one of those songs: that song was written without his help. Mendes takes pride in his songwriting abilities, though, and wasn’t sure he wanted to record the song at first. Mendes told Radio.com, “I was thinking, I don’t want to sing [it] because I only want to sing songs that I write.”
Happily for him, he decided to keep an open mind. “I was like, ‘Well, let me just listen to this,’ and I fell in love. And man, it was just so cool to hear that. I remember before I heard it, I was like ‘I really want to write a song where the bridge is a repetitive something, that just drills itself into your head.'”
And he found that bridge in “Stitches”: “‘Needle in a thread gotta get you outta my head.’ When that bridge hit I was like, ‘This is the song.’ I had to have it.”
Good call: the video has passed 27 million views. He’s since released a video for a stripped down acoustic version of the song; that video has passed 5 million views. Mendes says its important to him that, no matter how much production is on any of his songs, he always wants them to hold up if he plays them acoustically. “Totally, absolutely 100%. Because that’s what I do live, I bring my acoustic guitar on stage. If I can’t bring it into that realm, then it’s not going to be my song.”
The acoustic version of “Stitches” is actually a duet with Hailee Steinfeld, an Academy Award-nominated actress for 2010’s True Grit, who is working on her debut album. She told Radio.com she was excited to work with Mendes on the one-off track.
“I am such a huge fan of his. I’d been listening to Handwritten ever since it came out. I just love him and wanted to collaborate with him in some way. And we went back and forth on a couple of ideas. And then the idea of doing an acoustic ‘Stitches’ duet came up and we just went for it. We made a video and recorded it in the same day.”
Confirming the hopes of Mendes’ rabid fanbase, she reports, “He is one of the most amazing guys I’ve ever met. He really is so sweet.”
And although she’s gotten a huge amount of fame at a young age (she was 13 when she shot True Grit), she can still walk down the street without being accosted too often; that’s probably not the case for Mendes these days.
“It’s not something that I’ve really experienced,” she says. “It’s kind of crazy that you can put something out in the world that connects and resonates with people so much. But at the ned of the the day, I think it’s amazing that there are people who are interested in what you do, and want more of it.”