×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘MTV Unplugged’ Plots Fall Return With Shawn Mendes (EXCLUSIVE)

Popular MTV franchise “Unplugged” will return to the network this fall. Shawn Mendes, who’s currently No. 1 at Top 40 radio with his latest single, “Nothing Holdin’ Me Back,” will kick off the reboot with a performance from downtown Los Angeles’ Theater at Ace Hotel. “MTV Unplugged Shawn Mendes” is scheduled to air on Sept. 8.

MTV Unplugged,” which features music acts reinterpreting their songs — and usually a cover — acoustically, first aired in 1989 and has showcased memorable performances from the likes of Nirvana, Jay-Z, Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Miley Cyrus, Tony Bennett, Mariah Carey, Katy Perry, Lil Wayne, and Adele, among others. But for 19-year-old Mendes, it was a clip of Pearl Jam performing on the show in 1992 that got him hooked on the concept — even if it took place years before he entered the world. “It wasn’t so much about the commercial, showman side of it; It was really about the music,” Mendes tells Variety.

Mendes and his band have been rehearsing diligently in the days leading up to the Aug. 27 MTV Video Music Awards, where Mendes is nominated for Best Pop Video (for “Treat You Better”) and is set to perform. “We’ve been working our asses off just trying to figure out the most beautiful way to play these songs in a smaller, stripped-down way that still feels as impactful,” he says. “I feel like if I can do this right, then it will be a moment for me — where people can really understand and see me as a musician and a singer, and where I’m coming from.”

According to Amani Duncan, MTV SVP of Music and Executive In Charge of Music for “Unplugged,” for the “2.0 version” of the series, which had aired semi-regularly in the U.S. through 2009, each show will take place in a different venue of some meaning to the featured artist. “Let’s take it to cool locations” was the thought,” Duncan explains. “Like where the artist played their first major show, or maybe they choose a location to make a pro-social statement, or it’s, ‘I always wanted to play Carnegie Hall.'”

That the “Unplugged” franchise may not have been familiar to millennials wasn’t a concern. Adds Duncan: “At MTV, the brand equity is still so strong. It gives us an opportunity to bring back nostalgia and also recruit an entirely new consumer who may not know what ‘Unplugged’ was because they weren’t born.”

Mendes’ manager Andrew Gertler hopes that the relaunch will “be something that helps inspire a whole new generation of music fans and musicians,” promising that every song during Mendes’ set “is different from what anyone’s heard before.”

Adds Mendes: “People come to my shows not really knowing what to expect, and they leave experiencing a real rock-pop concert. We’re playing 100% of the time. To be able to film that and put it out to the people is exciting.”

“MTV Unplugged Shawn Mendes” will be produced by Den of Thieves, with Jesse Ignjatovic and Evan Prager serving as Executive Producers.  Chris Choun, Lee Lodge and Jen Jones will also Executive Produce.

The “MTV Unplugged” series, created by Robert Small and Jim Burns, is executive produced by Garrett English with Vanessa Whitewolf as Producer. Melanie Block serves as Executive in Charge of Production for MTV.

More Music

  • Dan the Automator

    Heeding the Call of Olivia Wilde, Dan the Automator Scores 'Booksmart'

    Dan The Automator, aka Daniel Nakamura, knows a thing or two about setting a mood. The Bay Area-based producer has worked on projects such as Gorillaz’s debut album, Handsome Boy Modeling School (with Prince Paul) and multiple projects with rapper Kool Keith. Now, Nakamura has set his sights on film scoring, and will make his [...]

  • Santino Fontana Tootsie Broadway Illustration

    'Tootsie' Star Santino Fontana on the Challenges of His Tony-Nominated Dual Role

    Santino Fontana is doing double duty on Broadway this year. The “Tootsie” star scored his second Tony Award nomination this month for his hilarious portrayal of struggling actor Michael Dorsey and Dorothy Michaels, the female persona that Dorsey assumes to win a role in a play. The musical, based on the 1982 comedy starring Dustin [...]

  • Kanye West Slams Liberals for ‘Bullying’

    Kanye West Slams Liberals for ‘Bullying’ Trump Supporters in David Letterman Interview

    The Daily Beast today published a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West — which addresses music, fashion, West’s late mother and of course his much-criticized support of President Trump — on his Netflix show, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31. The article praises the hour-long session as “not only one of the [...]

  • Richard AshcroftThe Ivors, London, UK -

    Richard Ashcroft Talks About ‘Emotional’ Legal Battle Over ‘Bittersweet Symphony’

    On Thursday, nearly 22 years after the Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” was released, singer Richard Ashcroft announced that the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger and Keith Richards assigned to him the songwriter royalties and rights from the song, which samples one of their compositions, and removed their writing credits. The songwriting royalties and rights had been assigned [...]

  • Flying Lotus Flamagra

    Album Review: Flying Lotus’ ‘Flamagra’

    Veteran DJ/producer/artist/rapper Flying Lotus operates in a sort of netherworld between electronic, hip-hop, jazz and funk, without being particularly anchored in any earthly genre. He’s signed to the electronic label Warp, is the nephew of jazz great Alice Coltrane and the grandson of Marilyn MacLeod (cowriter of Diana Ross’ hit “Love Hangover”), and has worked [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content