Trust Shawn Mendes to write a song, record it, and release it all within the space of two days. You could almost say that his new song, “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DYING FOR?”, was inspired by the recent haze engulfing New York City. In fact, the single’s cover art is an authentic photograph of a New York City landscape completely engulfed by an orange smoke haze. The smoke originated from the singer’s home country Canada, where massive wildfires have been spreading through great forests. Announced three hours before its release, the single serves as Mendes’ first music of the year.
“Smoke in the air, the city’s burnin’ down / I wanna speak, but I don’t make a sound / Locked in my mind, you’re all I think about (Mm) / I wanna save us, but I don’t know how,” Shawn Mendes sings in the first verse. There are speculations that the lyrics are inspired by his rekindled romance with Camila Cabello after the pair broke up sometime last year. Rumors of their romance spread like wildfire after the pair were spotted kissing and having a great time at this year’s Coachella. They were also spotted together on different occasions, including a snap of the two at Shawn Mendes’ New York residence.
In the chorus, Mendes asks whether it’s worth it to try and hold on to a relationship, singing, “if we don’t love like we used to” and “don’t care like we used to.”
The second verse tells us that he’s on the fence about remaining in the relationship, even though he did admit that he chokes up every time he wants to call it quits. However, this doubtfulness is kind of dispelled when he tells us on the bridge that living without his lover is worse than not living at all. The guitar-driven “WHAT THE HELL ARE WE DYING FOR?” is a fine addition to Mendes’ discography of songs that explore the different facets of love, in all its glory, extremes, beauty, and ugliness.
“Started writing this song yesterday morning with my friends in upstate New York & finished it only a few hours ago..felt so important to me to share with you guys in real time,” Mendes shared on Twitter. The single slightly touched on the hazardous event Mendes and his friends were exposed to as a result of the smoke, which spread over New York, consequently posing a health risk to its residents.
The song was written by Mendes, Scott Harris, Mike Sabath, and Eddie Benjamin, with the latter also playing guitar and bass on the track.
Nmesoma Okechukwu is an entertainment journalist, editor and freelance writer. She covers pop culture, music, lifestyle, literature, movies, and environmental preservation.
Nmeso's work ranges from writing profiles, essays and features for various online and print publications to doing commercial copywriting, musician bios and press releases, editorial consulting, live interviews and video production.
You can also find her interviewing talents, campaigning for the preservation of the natural environment and championing the eradication of extreme poverty.