For Shawn Mendes’ latest single, the bouncy “There’s Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” the singer-songwriter dipped into previously unexplored influences: the 18-year-old told EW in April that he was channeling early-2000s Timbaland when he entered the studio.
“We wrote the song, cut it, and then the next day I was listening back,” he recalled. “There was this empty space after the chorus, and I [imagined] this part, this sample that Timbaland would use. I ordered this guitalele, which is like a baby guitar with nylon strings that sounds like a ukelele. I went over to my buddy and was like, ‘I’m just going to play this.’ It ended up sounding so badass. It sounds like something you’d hear on an old Justin Timberlake record, right?”
The cut just cracked the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 — and there’s plenty more danceable guitar tunes that strike a similar vein. EW’s favorite swaps are below.
Justin Timberlake, “What Goes Around…Comes Around”
Mendes achieved his sonic goals when he channeled the former *NSYNC-er, so it’s worth it to go back to the source: Timberlake and seminal producer Timbaland teamed up for the singer’s breakout 2006 solo set, FutureSex/LoveSounds.
The soul-pop singer also burst onto the scene in the early 2000s — in his case, with much thanks to Perez Hilton: The gossip cop posted about Hutchinson’s debut LP, which he self-released in 2007, and the frenzy that followed landed the Washington, D.C. native a record deal with Warner Bros. and catapulted Sounds Like This into the top 10 on the iTunes sales chart.
Tinariwen, “Cler Achel”
Maybe you think it’s a stretch to compare the 18-year-old Canadian popstar to a Grammy-winning group of Tuareg musicians — but it won’t take more than a few bars of those infectious and stomping guitar riffs before you agree.
Cody Simpson, “La Da Dee”
Australian singer-songwriter Cody Simpson also punched up the global dance flavor on this 2013 track, which maybe you remember from the closing credits of Cloudy With A Chance of Meatball 2. (Or… maybe you don’t — either way, you can hear it above!)
Zayn Malik, “Still Got Time”
The former One Direction member favored shadowy, alt-R&B on his 2016 solo debut, but on the first cut off his still-in-the-works follow-up, he follows a similarly grooving guitar line. (Their paths diverge at Malik’s NSFW music video, streaming above.)
Dua Lipa, “IDGAF”
On her 2017 debut, the husky-voiced U.K. export explores tropical house, electro-funk, and acoustic R&B — and it’s at its best when she, like Mendes, melds all three like she does on this sonically ambiguous but super delicious tell-off.