Pop singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes surprised listeners with a hastily made single. The song, titled “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DYING FOR?” features a cover image of the New York City smog engulfing the city this week. The fires first broke out in Mendes’ native Canada, and the singer announced that he was simultaneously raising money for the Canadian Red Cross’ relief efforts.
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also donating to Canadian Red Cross, visit this link to learn more or donate if you can ❤️???? https://t.co/esJ4c9LOJp
— Shawn Mendes (@ShawnMendes) June 9, 2023
The track’s lyrics use the fires as a metaphor for a failing romantic relationship. Given recent rumors, many suspect the song to be about Mendes’ on-again-off-again girlfriend of several years, singer Camila Cabello. The pair first announced their split in November 2021, but were spotted together at Coachella in 2023. The sighting appeared to confirm that the couple had gotten back together, with these suspicions only fueled by a now-deleted snippet of a new song that Cabello posted to her Instagram account.
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The track is being praised for its raw depiction of the emotional impact a tumultuous relationship can have on someone in their early 20s. The raw emotional vocals are captivating longtime fans of Mendes, while others remain skeptical on the true purpose of the single. Naturally, many of the critiques came in the form of memes.
Shawn Mendes pressing record after looking out of the windows of his Brooklyn pied a terre yesterday pic.twitter.com/Bfwl2ISchV
— oomf magazine (@oomfmagazine) June 9, 2023
The single was announced just three hours prior to its release, a rarity for Mendes. Given the Cabello speculation, some felt the single was put together too quickly. Some found the album cover to be distasteful as the natural disaster remains ongoing.
— ❦ went to cuntissance (@THEMARlAHFILES) June 9, 2023
Meanwhile, others feel the single was advertised to be more about the Canadian wildfires, when in reality it wound up alluding to his personal life.
shawn mendes using a picture of a disaster caused by global warming as the cover of his new single pic.twitter.com/51oDL23YsZ
— grace ???? (@bythepocketful) June 9, 2023
Amid the minor criticisms, others remind listeners that Mendes has long been a supporter of conservation organizations working to fight climate change. The Shawn Mendes Foundation partners with a number of groups aimed at raising awareness on the current state of the environment and reducing carbon footprints in several ways. Regardless of the song’s lyrics, the single cover alone raised further global awareness surrounding the impact of the fires, and some feel that Mendes deserves more credit for that.
are you all mad at him for?? shawn mendes ALWAYS cared about climate change, he always donated and showed he cares through art too, he never cared about charts, plus it can give more visibility to what is happening and more people can help. your anger makes no sense https://t.co/hp6XkcjE8v pic.twitter.com/9cv9TpwkvA
— raquel (@tomdetailss) June 9, 2023
Mendes is yet to comment on the mixed reviews about his latest track.