Shawn Mendes is described in the New York Times as a "clean-cut 11th grader from Pickering, Ontario." He doesn’t have a hit single, and until this week had only ever released an EP with four songs, one of which he didn’t write .
What Mendes does have is three million followers on Vine. Which is the main reason why he now has the No. 1 album in America, according to new Billboard data.
"Handwritten," released by Island Records, topped the “Furious 7” soundtrack and beat out new releases by Reba McEntire and Tyler, the Creator, selling 106,000 copies. It was also streamed 4.8 million times.
Here's the latest video, for a song by Mendes himself, called "Aftertaste."
Mendes, 16, got started like lots of other Vine music stars: by doing six-second covers. Here's one of Beyonce.
But he appears to be the first from the Vine-covers genre to translate his online following into into more mainstream success. (An album by “Us The Duo,” a Vine pair who produce rich, punchy covers, failed to chart despite having even more followers than Mendes.)
You can get a sense of his rabid social media following as real life adultation from Vines like this.
The Times' Ben Sisario writes that Mendes' break came after he was signed to Magcon, an entertainment group that packages teen social media stars and tours them around the country to meet their fans. An artist manager subsequently set up interviews for him with record labels, and Island, now a unit of Universal Music Group too him on.
He has since appeared on "Ellen" and the "Today Show," and Taylor Swift has asked Mendes to be an opening act for the latest leg of her tour.
While comparisons with Justin Bieber may seem evident, Mendes is trying to style himself more in the singer-songwriter mold of Ed Sheeran, his "idol" according to Mendes' social media feed.
Sheeran is 24.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.