In recent years, an increasing number of musicians have utilized slick, self-produced Netflix documentaries as an inventive way to promote their music. Lady Gaga did it with Gaga: Five Foot Two, Beyonce did it with Homecoming, Travis Scott did it with Look Mom I Can Fly, and now Shawn Mendes has done it with Shawn Mendes: In Wonder. The songs in In Wonder run the gamut from those that inspired Mendes to those that catapulted him to fame, as well as those that will feature on his upcoming album, Wonder. And although the film doesn't preview every song on the new album, it does offer viewers samples of several of them, and they indicate an intriguing new direction for the singer-songwriter.
Before talking about the new songs featured in In Wonder, it's worth mentioning the old songs that show up in the film. This documentary, which clocks in at roughly 80 minutes, is heavy on the music, with snippets heard from around 20 different songs in total. In the film, we hear Mendes cover a number of popular tracks from other artists. In archival footage from his youth, he performs Ed Sheeran's "Give Me Love" and Great Big World's "Say Something." In scenes from his 2019 world tour, he sings Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" and Coldplay's "Fix You." And in an intimate moment in a bathroom with girlfriend Camila Cabello, the two stars sing John Mayer's "Slow Dancing in a Burning Room." Predictably, a number of Mendes' own hits also populate the movie's soundtrack. In scenes from his world tour and other venues, Mendes sings "Ruin," "Lost in Japan," "Youth," "It's in My Blood," his latest hit "Wonder," and — again in the bathroom with Cabello — "Señorita."
Concerning the unreleased songs that are previewed in In Wonder, they include "Dream," "Always Been You," "Look Up At the Stars," and "Teach Me How To Love." "Dream" is a slow and romantic ballad, with old school lyrics that recall The Everly Brothers' "All I Have to Do Is Dream." "It's Always Been You" ventures into big band territory, with a horn-powered chorus that emulates Frankie Valli's "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," a song for which Mendes notes his admiration in the film thanks to its cascading horns and starry-eyed lyrics. "Teach Me How To Love" would make Bruno Mars jealous with its funk sound powered by strong rhythmic bass and harmonizing female background singers. Finally, "Look Up at the Stars" is a quiet and catchy piano track that will likely remind fans of Coldplay's early hits, namely "Yellow."
Though all of the previewed tracks are rather different genre-wise, they all share a sense that Mendes has grown up. The singer appears to be leaving the teenybopper pop behind in favor of a more adult sound and exploring his varied musical influences with increasing confidence. Judging by what's heard in Shawn Mendes: In Wonder, Wonder should be a Mendes album unlike any other.