At exactly midnight on Friday, March 3, Ed Sheeran once again dropped (literally) all the feels on us.
His highly-anticipated album was announced in early January, and since then fans have been counting down the days, while listening to his two chart topping singles and clamouring to get ahold of tickets to this year’s sold-out arena tour.
It’s been over two years since his last album ‘Multiply’, released in June 2014, and with his year ‘off the grid’ in 2016, longing for new music from Sheeran has been at an all-time high.
Less than 24 hours post-release, ‘Divide’ managed to dominate the music world, with all 16 tracks on the deluxe album filing up one spot after the other on Spotify’s Global Top 50 Chart. Not long after the debut, the United Kingdom’s dedication to our favourite redhead shone through, with the tracks not only making appearances on the UK’s Top 50 but crammed consecutively in the top 16.
While an interview with Sheeran would have been a dream come true (and personally I’d be happy just reading the man’s grocery lists) his in-depth chat with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe is definitely the next best thing.
In the hour long video Lowe and Sheeran talk through each song on ‘Divide’ and with the intention of saving you all some valuable study (or Netflix, no judgement here) time, I figured I’d walk you through the gist of it.
Track one, ‘Eraser’ is, as Sheeran called it, a form of “verbal vomit”, where he wrote out all the things that were taking up space in his heart over the last five years. While the large majority of Sheeran’s songs are famous for his eloquent and relatable take on relationships, ‘Eraser’ exposes a different side of Sheeran’s mind, involving his personal battle with fame, from “friends and family filled with envy” to “money being the root of all evil”.
But even while emotionally exposing his insecurities, Sheeran continuously expresses his feeling that he’s finally gotten the hang of the business, as well as how he wants to administer his career – 2017 is his year. Everything he’s worked towards has and will fall into place, courtesy of his lucky number 17.
While self-admittedly a very competitive person who will never hide his desire for having ‘Divide’ become “the biggest album in the world”, Sheeran also places a lot of pride in knowing when to listen to the clever people he surrounds himself with.
‘Barcelona’, track 13, the first of four bonus tracks, was actually originally intended to be the first released single from the album. But in an exchange of tough love, his manager encouraged him to make some changes because, as it stands at that moment, his album wasn’t as good as he believed it had the potential to be.
Though discouraged at the time, Sheeran quickly took the criticism to him, admitted that he had more to give, and bust out the album we’ve now, even in this short time, easily come to know and love.
I find it comforting to imagine that Ed Sheeran has produced some of his best work under pressure and time constrictions. Now I’m just left hoping that my last-minute essays can aspire to the same sort of chart-topping success.
From ‘Perfect’, a “100% him”, hopefully career-defining, powerful and moving ballad, to the wittiness of bleached unmentionables in ‘New Man’, and the real tear fountain-provoking lyrics in ‘Supermarket Flowers’, Sheeran has composed an album that is as well rounded, classic, inspiring and catchy as we could only have hoped.
So to no one’s surprise, it didn’t take me long to understand that having to pick a favourite song on this album would be a question wasted. As a friend told me when I asked him, “I have 16 favourites”, and that’s the most accurate description I’ve gotten of the album so far.
Sheeran himself said to prefer the ninth track called ‘Hearts Don’t Break Around Here’. As another completely self-produced track, showcasing the true extent of his ‘one man show’, it was written as “a stream of consciousness” in which his thoughts paint a picture sweet with the story of summer love – very James Joyce-esque.
With a Snow Patrol influenced vibe and the relatable, reflective throwback to youthful indiscretions and adventure, Sheeran’s dad, stays loyal to home with ‘Castle on the Hill’ as his newfound favourite.
Speaking of new, Cherry Seaborn (current victim to spontaneous serenades) plays the role of typical girlfriend in reminding her boyfriend of something he’d forgotten. After a memorable week spent together, Sheeran – the romantic he is – had written and sent the song we now recognise as ‘How Would You Feel’ to Seaborn over email, simply explaining just how he felt in that moment. But as one does, he completely forgot about this lyrical declaration of love until he asked Seaborn her favourite track and she replied that it wasn’t even on the album. (note to self: check junk folder…just in case)
Finally, an entire country of people reach an agreement, as a nation-declared favourite ‘Galway Girl’ remains number one on Ireland’s charts. Clearly they’ve found their newest jam, and I can’t say I disagree.