There's a unique story behind a controversial Shawn Mendes song from 2023.

For those that do not know him, Mendes is a 25-year old singer-songwriter from Pickering, Ontario. He started his career by posting videos of him playing covers of popular songs around 2012, and has since grown into one of the most recognizable pop stars of the modern era.

Tommy X Shawn 'Classics Reborn' Presented By Shawn Mendes
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In 2023, Mendes surprised fans with the release of a new song, entitled What The Hell Are We Dying For? The pop star posted the following about the song's release on social media:

No additional details were made available about where in Upstate New York Mendes was located when this song was written. It is also unclear whether or not he recorded the song in Upstate.

READ MORE: Meet the Upstate NY College Orchestra Featured in Netflix’s Hit 2023 Drama

What is clear, however, is that Mendes drew significant criticism as a result of releasing this song. As the tweet above shows you, the cover art for the song is a photo of the New York skyline covered in thick smoke. The photo was clearly captured when the state dealt with significant air quality issues from the Canadian wildfires in 2023.

Social media users criticized Mendes' choice to use an environmental crisis as a means to make money.

According to Seventeen Magazine, [Mendes] included a link to the Canadian Red Cross and revealed that he'd be donating as part of the song's release and promotion.

Currently, the song has 2.5 million views on YouTube and 25,011,541 plays on Spotify.

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