MTV is bringing back its famous MTV Unplugged series and is shining a light on 19-year-old heartthrob Shawn Mendes who launched his career on Vine by singing covers of popular songs. On MTV Unplugged, the Canadian singer and songwriter performs with an acoustic guitar on “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” at the piano on “Ruin” (from his debut album Illuminate — see line below), and the song that he says “showed me how important lyrics are to a song, “Three Empty Words.” In 2016, MTV described the song as “the nicest breakup song you’ll ever hear.”
Mendes wrote “Three Empty Words” when he was 17, and released the single one year after opening for Taylor Swift on her 1989 North American Tour. Clearly Swift’s angst-ridden breakup songs did not influence Mendes when he wrong “Three Empty Words.” He doesn’t sound angry or mad, he just sounds defeated. Mendes earns a lot of points with teenage girls when he sings the line: “What’s really gonna break my heart / It’s to have to tell your little brother.” MTV Unplugged Shawn Mendes airs Friday, September 8 at 8pm on MTV.