Fans are divided on whether its lyrics are about the wildfires or his reported breakup from Camila Cabello after their rumored reconciliation
There's nothing holding Shawn Mendes back from (seemingly) singing about climate change.
On Friday, the singer-songwriter released a new song called "What the Hell Are We Dying For?" and said he wrote the song this week amid the Canadian wildfires that've sent a blaze of smoke throughout many areas of the United States, causing air quality issues.
"Started writing this song yesterday morning with my friends in upstate New York & finished it only a few hours ago...felt important to me to share with you guys in real time," wrote Mendes, 24, on Instagram, noting that he's making a donation to the Canadian Red Cross alongside the song's release.
Produced by Mendes and Mike Sabath and co-written by the pair with Scott Harris and Eddie Benjamin, "What the Hell Are We Dying For?" was released with a cover image taken this week of the New York City skyline covered in orange smog from the wildfire smoke.
"Smoke in the air, the city's burnin' down / I wanna speak, but I don't make a sound," sings the Grammy nominee on the pop-rock ballad, referencing the situation. "Locked in my mind, you're all I think about / I wanna save us, but I don't know how."
While the song seems to be about the wildfires and climate change at large, some of its lyrics appear to nod toward the end of a relationship — leading fans to wonder if Mendes is singing about a possible breakup from Camila Cabello following their rumored reconciliation.
"If we don't love like we used to / If we don't care like we used to / What the hell are we dying for? / If it doesn't cut like it used to / If you're not mine and I'm not yours / What the hell are we dying for?" sings the "Stitches" musician in the track's chorus.
After dating for two years and splitting in November 2021, Mendes and Cabello, 26, sparked rumors of a rekindled romance after they were spotted kissing at the 2023 Coachella Music Festival in April. Since then, they've been seen on numerous occasions strolling around Los Angeles and New York City together.
Last month, they were spotted displaying some P.D.A. during Taylor Swift's Eras Tour stop at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. But earlier this week, The Sun reported that the pair had split yet again.
Following the song's release, many fans took to social media and speculated about its real meaning. "Lmao with the title and the cover art and the way he dropped it I expected Shawn's single to be about climate change and the crisis in the Canada and US... it's about Camila," wrote one Twitter user.
Another fan echoed the same sentiment, tweeting, "Actually thought Shawn’s song would be about climate change with the photo he used…it’s about his break up with Camila…once again…"
However, some other fans felt the song is truly commenting on the wildfires, air pollution and climate change, which Mendes has been vocal about in the past.
"Shawn has always always donated and supported organisations that deal with climate change and he even has his own foundation," expressed a Twitter user. "He’s not using it for promo, he’s not profiting of that, the song is ABOUT THAT and he just wanted to share it with us. Yall have to hate on everything..."
Feeling similarly, another fan tweeted, "shawn is truly one of the few artists who’s constantly talking about climate change issues, because he really cares. he is also constantly taking his platforms to raise awareness and i’m grateful he’s donating and helping out, it’s so important."
Neither Mendes nor Cabello have commented on the rumors surrounding the song's meaning.
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