Hollywood’s most “Is this allowed” couple, Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello, announced their breakup via matching Instagram stories a mere two weeks ago. Now, Mendes is speaking out in the only way he knows how, through an overwrought pop ballad that sounds like if Sam Smith scored an ASPCA ad.
Mendes released “It’ll Be Okay” on Wednesday night, after sharing this touching message with his fans.
Posting iPhone sunset pics and talking about how you miss your fans? My boy is going through it. Now let’s listen to the song. Or at least, let’s listen to the first minute of the song, because you’ll get the gist of it and the extra two-and-a-half minutes won’t really add anything to your experience.
Is it a metaphor for something that the song kind of builds and builds to an unsatisfying climax? We may never know, but what we can piece together is the story of Shamila’s breakup through the lyrics.
“I start to imagine a world where we don't collide... It's making me sick but we'll heal and the sun will rise” Mendes croons over a piano track. So now the picture from before starts to make more sense. It’s a motif for Mendes’s post-breakup era — the rising sun, the promise of a new day, the dark turning into the light. If I were his poetry professor, I would say that the sun is a little cliché, especially in the way he’s using it here. Little orphan Annie has been making similar observations about the earth’s rotation since 1977 (and will be again tonight on Annie Live, airing on NBC at 8/7c). Onto the chorus.
“If you tell me you're leaving, I'll make it easy / It'll be okay / If we can't stop the bleeding / We don't have to fix it, we don't have to stay / I will love you either way.” I am not above praising Mr. Mendes, and as such I will admit that I do like the line “If we can’t stop the bleeding.” But then he absolutely loses the bodily metaphor with “We don’t have to fix it.” If someone is bleeding out in front of you, you’re going to do everything you can to fix it. You’re going to apply pressure, call 911, probably do some crying. You are not going to leave the scene and be like, “Well, time to go.” It will not be okay, Shawn.
But where is Cabello in all of this? Well, her Instagram stories, as always, provide a wonderful peek into her psyche. Before the song was released, she was reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou, calling it “an absolute treasure. It is now the second book added to her “Books” highlight following Conversations With Friends by Sally Rooney. When “It’ll Be Okay” dropped, she shared the song to her story, proving to all of us onlookers that it will, in fact, be okay. Thank god. I don’t know what I would’ve done if these two hadn’t remained close enough to cross-promote each other’s breakup content to their social channels.