Shawn Mendes’s “If I Can’t Have You” Song Review

Hello, I’m MusiCommentator, and it’s time to talk about Shawn Mendes…again…even though I talked about him, like, about a month ago.

To recap, Shawn Mendes is an artist who I have not always been a fan of. He got his fanbase like all cute, boyish popstars do: by posting videos of themselves playing music on the internet. Whether you like him or not, he proved himself to have some semblance of talent, which made him the only person worth remembering from the “Magcon Era” in which he was formed. I have found most of his work since “Stitches” to be bland, pop drivel…until he released his self-titled album that was so good it landed its way onto my Top 10 BEST Albums Of 2018. After coming off a hot 2018, I was expecting a lot from Shawn in 2019, but unfortunately, he disappointed with the uncharismatic “Señorita“, which saw him and Camila Cabello sharing no chemistry whatsoever over a lackluster, Latin-pop beat. Shawn did turn out to be, however, the best part of that song, so while I kiiind of already alluded to my feelings on this song in my “Señorita” review, let’s go into “If I Can’t Have You” with open ears and see what Shawn has to offer us.

I can’t write one song that’s not about you
Can’t drink without thinking about you
Is it too late to tell you that
Everything means nothing if I can’t have you?

This track starts off with the chorus, and boy, what a chorus it is! Shawn’s powerhouse vocals are on display, as he sings his heart out on this hook! The beat does a fantastic job backing him up, too, providing some bassy kicks and piano keys that add emphasis to all the right spots. The lyrics, while nothing to write home about, are incredibly catchy, and trust me, they will get stuck in your head all day. Plus, this chorus not only sets up the themes of heartbreak for the rest of the song, but also stands as the main theme, as Shawn’s distraught emotions build up to this powerful hook every time the song needs a boost in energy. This is truly a wonderful chorus, and one that is worthy of being on the 2018 “Shawn Mendes” album. The rest, of the song, though…well, let’s just say I can’t be as positive towards it.

I’m in Toronto and I got this view
But I might as well be in a hotel room, yeah
It doesn’t matter ’cause I’m so consumed
Spending all my nights reading texts from you

This is the first verse, and boy, what a downgrade from the chorus. It’s very common for the verses of a song to be less impactful and energetic as the chorus, but this is like going from Adderall to Xanax. The beat in the verses becomes almost nonexistent, and Shawn’s voice becomes a nonentity. I’ve heard him do some soft singing before, but it just sounds like he doesn’t want to be here! Also, these lyrics are dangerously boring. Looking back at the lyrics from “Señorita”, Shawn was able to give some great detail in his verse that added to the sexual tension of the song. He appears to be adding that same kind of personal detail for this verse, but instead of sounding intimate (like it did on “Señorita”), it sounds mind-numbingly dull. I really don’t think I need to hear about Shawn reading his text messages.

Oh, I’m good at keeping my distance
I know that you’re the feeling I’m missing
You know that I hate to admit it
But everything means nothing if I can’t have you

And the same thing goes for this pre-chorus as I said about the verse. It’s boring. So, so boring. And the same thing goes for the second verse, and the bridge. Soooooo boooooriiiiing…

Overall, I know this has been a shorter review, but I don’t think there is much else I can say. The chorus of this song is amazing. It’s full of power and energy, and the way the instruments work around it with every repetition of the hook makes it more memorable, especially towards the end when all Shawn’s voice sings over is the trumpet hits and bass kicks. But the rest of the song, as I’ve clearly expressed, is so bland. I haven’t been this disengaged when listening to a song in a long time. Every time the chorus ends, my mind instantly shifts to something else, even when I’m trying to focus really hard on the song. This is one of those instances where the song was MADE for the chorus, as everything else is so nonessential that it shouldn’t be here at all. Honestly, a two-minute loop of the chorus probably would have been better than this whole song. So, as much as I like the chorus, I think I have to give this song a 2 out of 5. Do you agree?

Thank you for reading my “If I Can’t Have You” song review. If you liked this review, make sure to follow my website, Twitter, and Instagram, like this post, and be sure to check in to read my future reviews. Also, if you have something you want to see me review, tell me in the comments. Until then, keep on listening to good music! I know I will.


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