Our favourite ginger teddy’s return to the music scene was no doubt one of the most highly anticipated events for fans and industry professionals alike. After a year long hiatus which saw him disappear from the public eye, the ‘Shape Of You’ hitmaker is back and better than before! In celebration of his new record Divide, here’s our play by play of the 16 tracks that some are calling Ed’s best work thus far.
We’ve heard Ed rap before on earlier tracks such as ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’, ‘Take It Back’ and ‘Sing’, but MC Sheeran takes it to a whole new level with the first track off the album. A declaration of intent, he lays his soul out to bare with effortless confidence and addresses the trials of his career as well as his status in the music industry.
Favourite lyric: “The paving stones I played upon / They kept me on the grind / So blame it on the pain / That blessed me with the life / Friends and family filled with envy when they should be filled with pride”
Castle On The Hill
One of the more relatable tunes on the album, Ed tackles the topic of missing and wanting to return to the place called home (something that we can all relate to at some point in our lives). Full of wistful lyrics about the town where he grew up – Framlingham, Suffolk – Ed reminisces about the time spent with his group of friends and how they’ve all grown since their time in high school.
Favourite lyric: “Found my heart and broke it here / Made friends and lost them through the years / And I’ve not seen the roaring fields in so long, I know I’ve grown / But I can’t wait to go home”
The first in a string of songs dedicated to his current beau, Cherry Seaborn, Ed exposes the vulnerability he feels when going into a new relationship. Featuring a chorus that shows him pushing his vocals to the breaking point, the whole song is evident of his commitment to any relationship – of how when he starts something with someone, he literally dives right into it.
Favourite lyric: “So don’t call me baby / Unless you mean it / Don’t tell me you need me / If you don’t believe it / So let me know the truth / Before I dive right into you”
Shape Of You
Ed’s famous for his love songs, there’s no doubt about that. But with this track, the attraction is pure carnal, talking about how he’s immediately attracted to the girl’s body when he lays eyes on her in the bar. A 180 degree turn from his usual take about the emotional aspect of love, Ed shows us a bolder insight on his views of love, and it’s a breathtaking twist on his usual works.
Favourite lyric: “Leave and get in a taxi / Then kiss in the backseat / Tell the driver make the radio play”
When he released ‘Thinking Out Loud’, couples all over the world clamoured to have it played as the first dance song at their weddings. And to be honest, we didn’t think Ed could outdo the success of that song. But boy oh boy were we pleasantly surprised when we heard ‘Perfect’. An ode to his Cherry Seaborn, Ed sings about how he’s finally found the woman he wants to spend the rest of his life with (we are officially jealous!). Move over ‘Thinking Out Loud’, ‘Perfect’ is taking your place as the song of choice for first dances at weddings from now on.
Favourite lyric: “When you said you looked a mess / I whispered underneath my breath / But you heard it, darling / You look perfect tonight”
Drawing inspiration from Niamh Dunne from Beoga – the band that Ed collaborated with on the track – Ed paints a picture about the relationship between an Irish girl and an Englishman. Moving away from using his experiences as a reference for his songs, he mixes his signature pop style with some Irish folk influences and relatable lyrics. It appears though that Ed had to fight to keep the track on the album (his label had reservations because the song was not “typical Ed”), but we’re super glad he managed to keep it on the album.
Favourite lyric: “I never heard Carrickfergus ever sung so sweet / Acapella in the bar using her feet for a beat / Oh, I could have that voice playing on repeat for a week/ And in this packed out room swear she was singing to me”
Seeing your ex pass you on the streets with a new person on their arms more often than not results in a wave of nostalgia, and Ed takes that feeling and puts it in song. Describing his mindset after seeing his ex-girlfriend with a new man, Ed delivers a tune with some of his cleverest and most mature lyrics yet. Be prepared to have your heartstrings tugged on, Sheerios.
Favourite lyric: “Cause baby you look happier, you do / My friends told me one day I’ll feel it too / And until then I’ll smile to hide the truth / But I know I was happier with you”
The juxtaposition to previous track, Ed now sings about not wanting to know the details of his ex’s new relationship and how she’s changed because of it, even though she’s been trying to get in touch. And that part where he writes about creeping through his ex’s Instagram page trying not to like the photos in fear that she’ll know that he’s thinking of her… truer words have never been spoken, in our opinion.
Favourite lyric: “Still lookin’ at your Instagram / And I’ll be creepin’ a lil / I’ll be tryin’ not to double tap / From way back ‘cause I know that’s where the trouble’s at”
Hearts Don’t Break Around Here
When it comes to relationships, the de facto statement is always how it’s the girl who feels safe with the guy. But Ed swaps the roles here, telling the story of how he is the one who feels “safe” when he’s with his current love, and how she’s the “lighthouse that will guide him home” no matter how far he strays. Delving into his fears that comes with being in a new relationship, Ed perfectly captures the vulnerability of opening up to another person, as well as the rewards that come along with it.
Favourite lyric: “I feel safe when you’re holding me near / Love the way that you conquer your fear / You know hearts don’t break around here”
What Do I Know?
With the current political situation in the Western countries, many of us have been waiting and looking to the Hollywood A-listers to use their platform to say something about it. But despite his dad’s warnings, this track is Ed’s way of aligning himself with those who aim to change the world peacefully, especially through the universal language of music and love.
Favourite lyric: “You know, the future’s in the hands of you and me / So let’s all get together, we can all be free / Spread love and understanding, positivity”
How Would You Feel (Paean)
Invoking feelings of the time two people spend together before the start of a relationship, Ed takes us through the motions of realising that you’re developing real feelings for the person you’ve been spending time with. Having recorded it in mid-2015, Ed actually had forgotten the song existed. It was only when Cherry reminded him of it that the song managed to make it onto the album, so we gotta thank her for giving us another Ed Sheeran love song! Bonus bit: while paean is a song of praise for its subject, did you know that Paean is also the middle name of Ed’s girlfriend?
Favourite lyric: “I’ll be taking my time / Spending my life / Falling deeper in love with you / So tell me that you love me too”
One of the most poignant tunes on the album, Ed pays tribute to his late grandmother from his mother’s point of view after she passed away when he was finishing up the record. With references to the positive impacts she left on their lives, grab your Kleenexes before you give this track a listen, it’s one of those where you won’t be able to stop your tears from flowing.
Favourite lyric: “So I’ll sing Hallelujah / You were an angel in the shape of my mum / When I fell down you’d be there holding me up”
You can’t help but feel like you need to bust a move when listening to this track, especially when the lyrics start out with “well get up, up on the dancefloor tonight”. With its uptempo beats and feel good lyrics, it’s one of those tunes where you’ll want to put on repeat and dance around your room to it several times over.
Favourite lyric: “And you and I, we’re flying on an aeroplane tonight / We’re going somewhere where the sun is shining bright / Just close your eyes / And let’s pretend we’re dancing in the street”
Bibya Be Ye Ye
It’s safe to say Ed used this album to experiment with a mixture of sounds, and it shines through with this track. Enlisting the help of Ghanaian star FUSE ODG with the songwriting, part of the lyrics also sees him singing in the Twi language. With an extremely catchy melody, it’s another one of those songs where you can’t help but tap your feet to. In case you’re wondering, “Bibya be ye ye” translates to “all will be well”.
Favourite lyric: “Someone told me, ‘Always say what’s on your mind’ / And I am only being honest with you / I get lonely and make mistakes from time to time.”
A full-on Irish folk song, Ed pays tribute to and tells the love story of his paternal grandparents, Nancy “Anne” Mulligan and William “Bill” Sheeran, who proves that love will always prevail. While it may be unconventional to use Irish folk music influences in pop music, if there’s anyone who can do it and succeed, it’s Ed. Give this tune a spin or two, and you’ll find that it really grows on you.
Favourite lyric: “Never had I seen such beauty before / The moment that I saw her / Nancy was my yellow rose / And we got married wearing borrowed clothes”
Whether we realise it or not, we have all been in situations where we gave too much of ourselves to help others, and Ed pleads to his listeners the importance of putting your needs first before others. Ending with such an important message of self-care just shows us how Ed has matured since he burst onto the scene, and it’s such a fitting end to the album.
Favourite lyric: “I gave you all my energy and I took away your pain / ‘Cause human beings are destined to radiate or drain / What line do we stand upon, ’cause from here it looks the same / And only scars remain”