The “Summer of Love” is over, and the dark, dreary winter is upon us. Mourning the end of his two-year relationship with his “Señorita,” Camila Cabello, Shawn Mendes released a new single titled “It’ll Be Okay.” Mendes is known for his dramatic love songs like “Mercy” and “Treat You Better,” but this song hurts so much more. The gut-wrenchingly emotional lyrics are paired with soft piano tunes, and this dangerous concoction was enough to make “Shamila” fans start sobbing. The song was released on Dec. 1, two weeks after the couple’s breakup was announced.
The Relationship and the Breakup
Cabello and Mendes started off as friends after touring together in 2015. Following the release of “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” the pair’s first collab, rumors of their romantic relationship began flooding the internet. In 2019, Cabello finally announced their relationship to fans. The inseparable couple was known for their frequent public displays of affection that some found endearing and others found “plain gross.” In his documentary on Netflix, Mendes shares that all of his songs have been about Cabello. “Writing love songs is the easy part,” Mendes said in an interview with The Fader, “Writing the songs that are about life and the things that actually happen to you is the hard part.”
When fans noticed that the couple was lacking their usual displays of passionate kisses and warm embraces, breakup speculations began to circulate. In mid-September, paparazzi found Cabello crying on a date, but they never confirmed why. The pair spent many months together in Miami during the heavier lockdowns and seemed to be happy. Now that audiences have returned to music concerts, however, it seems that Cabello and Mendes’ careers are taking them in separate directions. Cabello recently starred in the new rendition of “Cinderella” while Mendes began to plan a world tour that will begin in Europe next year for his 2020 album, “Wonder.”
On Nov. 17, Cabello and Mendes collaborated for a final time to write a breakup post that was posted on both singers’ Instagram stories. It was a tough pill to swallow for many fans who were overly supportive of their relationship until the very end. The statement read, “Hey guys, we’ve decided to end our romantic relationship but our love for one another as humans is stronger than ever. We started our relationship as best friends and will continue to be best friends.”
While this came as a shock to many, several sources close to the ex-couple say that this announcement was a long time coming. Rumor has it that Mendes was the one who initiated the breakup when he noticed that their relationship was growing stale. Although Cabello was deeply saddened, the decision to split was mutual. It appears that Mendes and Cabello separated and dealt with their feelings privately like responsible adults before they announced their breakup online. It seems that the relationship ended on amicable terms because Cabello continues to support Mendes’ music and liked his post announcing the breakup song, “It’ll Be Okay.”
“It’ll Be Okay”
In the first verse of his newest song, Mendes questions the state of his relationship. He asks, “Are we gonna make it? / Is this gonna hurt?” Still, Mendes’ lyrics make it seem as though he’s doubtful that their problems can be solved. The first two lines are reminiscent of the song “Stitches,” in which Mendes sings, “I thought that I’d been hurt before / But no one’s ever left me quite this sore.” Many couples at the beginning of the breakup stage have the delusional belief that they can fix each other, which rarely seems to work. Together, Mendes and Cabello tried to “sedate” the pain that the breakup would bring, but it was no use. Ignoring the problems of one’s relationship will only make it worse.
Just before the chorus, Mendes pulls in another reference — this time to his 2020 song “Can’t Imagine” with the lyrics, “I can’t imagine what a world would be / Without you.” The song and its lyrics sound very similar to “It’ll Be Okay.” Now, he is forced to “imagine a world where we don’t collide.” When hopelessly in love, one begins to imagine one’s future with their partner; however, when that is taken away, it leaves an emotional scar. Still, “we’ll heal and the sun will rise,” Mendes says just before the chorus.
The piano pauses for a brief moment as Mendes moves into the chorus. The minor chords depict the emotional toll the breakup is taking on him. Unlike Olivia Rodrigo, who is perfectly happy airing her grievances about her ex-boyfriend Joshua Basset, Mendes is hopeful that he and Cabello can remain friends. He sings, “If you tell me you’re leaving, I’ll make it easy / It’ll be okay.”
The single line that breaks Mendes’ fans’ hearts is “I will love you either way.” Even though the couple will not be together romantically, the love they share will always be there. Mendes appears to be reassuring himself, Cabello and all of his fans that “It’ll Be Okay,” which is a heavy burden to carry on his own.
Before their split, fans were hoping to see an engagement ring on Cabello’s finger. She frequently denied rumors of their engagement in interviews, but Mendes raised his fans’ hopes in an interview with Entertainment Tonight: “When you know, you know. I know we’re really young, so I don’t want to jump insanely fast.” Mendes said when the timing is right, he wanted to pop the big question. He explores this possibility in his song “24 Hours” from his “Wonder” album. He sings, “All it’d take is 24 hours / We could dance, you could throw the flowers / It’s a little soon, but I wanna come home to you.” Unfortunately, the dreams of a white wedding have faded to black; in the second verse of “It’ll Be Okay,” Mendes laments, “There’s nothing more painful.”
It seems that we all need a little reassurance that “It’ll Be Okay” once in a while, especially after the past few years of chaos. Many fans admire how honest Mendes is when he writes his songs, and they find the lyrics to this new song deeply relatable. While listening to Mendes’ and Cabello’s music is one way to cope with this devastating breakup, it’s important to have a strong support system behind you, especially as the holidays approach.
The release of “It’ll Be Okay” has left fans impatient for entire breakup albums from both Mendes and Cabello. It’s not too unorthodox to expect that Mendes’s next record will explore his journey to loving himself without Cabello at his side, but for now, we will have to wait and see.