After months of being bombarded with new releases every week, the last month of the year becomes the month of year-end lists compiled of albums that have left their mark for the time being–the early releases that gave us hope for a bountiful year of music, and the ones released just in time to soundtrack our summer. Encapsulated in these lists are those albums that went on to yield Grammy nominations for their respective artists, announced just a few weeks ago. Shawn Mendes, one of 2018's most prominent pop artists, appeared on CBS This Morning to assist in the announcement of a number of Grammy categories. It was there that the singer/songwriter discovered he received nominations for both Song of the Year, for his unfeigned anthem "In My Blood," and Best Pop Vocal Album, for his self-titled project from May of this year. To wrap up an already electrifying year, Mendes has released collaborative remixes of three choice tracks from Shawn Mendes, embodied as The Album (Remixes).
The trio of songs opens with Haitian-Canadian DJ and producer Kaytranada pulling Mendes' soulful "Where Were You In The Morning" into an entirely new sonic landscape. Each additional bass element adds a layer of urgency to the former ponderance of the track, leading to a brief disconnect from the song's underlying emotional tones. With its newfound erratic and glistening production courtesy of Kaytranada, the track begins to feel less like a message to a ghosting lover, and more like a smooth journey through a twinkling haze. The emotional tones tucked away on this rendition of "Where Were You In The Morning" are kept intact, safe and sound, on the Leon Bridges assisted remix of "Why," a sultry means of addressing unuttered infatuation. "And every line, every word that I write, you are the muse in the back of my mind," Bridges ruminates on briefly before his vocals join with Mendes' to confess, "Don't wanna ask about it 'cause you might brush it off, I’m afraid you think that it means nothing at all." Bridges' soul roots mold effortlessly with the simplistic sensitivity and R&B musings Mendes brings to the table here.
Having already teamed up with Khalid for "Youth," an anthem of impenetrable hope for a brighter future, Mendes has now also recruited rising talent Jessie Reyez to lend her distinctive tone and poise to the track. "Why is it always televised," she questions on the opening verse of the remix following Khalid's lead, before making both a realization with a declaration: "They want me desensitized, I won't do it." The official music video for "Youth" arrived earlier this Fall and featured cameos from a number of prominent young game changers: from gun violence survivors and activists lobbying for change to dancers and musical prodigies showcasing their respective expressions of art. Later in the song, Reyez further uses her platform to draw attention to the striking issues those who see themselves in this song struggle with regularly, questioning, "How come certain boys in blue can be so quick to shoot?" Weaving in and out of Mendes and Khalid's "Pain, but I won't let it turn into hate" declaration, Reyez offers her own words of encouragement: "You gotta be the change that you want to see. You gotta be the heaven you want to see."
This collection of remixes demonstrates the talents of a number of artists exceptional in their own right, and thoroughly intriguing when paired with an artist as sonically welcoming as Mendes, while maintaining an equal platform throughout each track. No one person was drowned out for the sake of allowing another to reside at the forefront, presenting a well displayed equilibrium of sound.