Last spring, Shawn Mendes ushered in the warm weather with an aptly breezy bop, “Lost In Japan,” and now he’s doing the same thing for us in 2019. Just a day after announcing the new single “If I Can’t Have You,” Mendes has delivered the goods, alongside a captivating video that finds the 20-year-old smiling through a lovesick spiral.
Sonically, “If I Can’t Have You” is an upbeat affair about an all-consuming love: “Is it too late to tell you that / Everything means nothing if I can’t have you,” he sings on the buoyant hook. The video, meanwhile, is entirely black and white, opening on a close-up of Mendes’s face as he wakes up in a fake Toronto. The camera follows him as he sits at a piano, sings into a mic, and, finally, strides past a gospel choir and onto a treadmill. To absolutely no one’s surprise, Shawn’s the kind of guy who can smile, run, and belt out sky-grazing high notes without breaking a sweat.
In a new interview with Beats 1 host Zane Lowe, Mendes chatted about the genesis of “If I Can’t Have You,” which he originally wrote for Dua Lipa. But after playing it in the studio more and more, he decided to keep it for himself, especially since it started to align with the mood he wanted for his new music.
“It’s a confident pop record, and it’s clearly that for me,” he explained. “I am going through this phase right now where I’m testing out all the styles of music that I can possibly be doing. And pop is what is in my blood, no pun intended. In the last six months, I wrote about 45 songs, and they’re all over the place and different vibes, and this is the one that consistently, every single time I played it, was just giving people that smile.”
Though he’s clearly been busy crafting new songs, Mendes clarified that he’s not immediately gearing up for a new album era and doesn’t want to “overthink” his next project just yet. Instead, he wanted to release “If I Can’t Have You” so he could have something new to play on the remaining legs of his world tour, which continues through December.
“I just went through a really serious run with ‘In My Blood’ and ‘Lost In Japan,’ feeling super mature,” he said. “I wanted people to remember that I can still create a song that’s just a feel-good record. The point of music is not to be so serious all the time; sometimes it’s just to feel good.”
It seems like a safe bet that Mendes will perform his new single on Saturday Night Live this weekend, where he’ll be the musical guest alongside host Adam Sandler. Tune in to see whether or not he recreates the vid by pulling off a singing/jogging hybrid performance!