Mid-Week M.E.L.A: Ed Sheeran’s Divide has been edited by Nidhi Shah.
Belting out globally famous hits such as Shape of You and Castle on the Hill, Ed Sheeran’s Divide was released on March 3rd, 2017. The album topped the charts in 14 countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.
What a lot of us do not know are the gems he hid within this masterpiece. The album has 12 tracks, each of which has their own mood or vibe to it. Not just your average peppy pop album, Ed Sheeran’s Divide is a mix of party, Irish folk, rap and his signature guitar acoustics. It has perhaps the most eclectic mix of songs, both in terms of music and subject. Ed Sheeran is a sheer genius with his lyrics, with all the songs in a ballad form. He manages to weave stories on a variety of subjects such as family, falling in love, nostalgia, childhood.
“I chased the pictured perfect life, I think they painted it wrong
I think that money is the root of evil and fame is hell
Relationships and hearts you fixed, they break as well
And ain’t nobody wanna see you down in the dumps
Because you’re living your dream, man, this shit should be fun”
The song Eraser is a commentary about the artist’s journey through the music industry. It had its ups and downs, from drugs, fame to the meaninglessness of life. The song very clearly states the irony of an artist’s life. What makes it come alive is Sheeran’s rap (though Eminem is still the king) in combination with the Spanish-like guitar tunes.
Nostalgia also rules as a sentiment within this album. The song Castle in the Hill is a nostalgic reminiscence of the artist’s younger days. The chorus goes as,
“I’m on my way
Driving at 90 down those country lanes
Singing to “Tiny Dancer”
And I miss the way
You make me feel
And it’s real
When we watched the sunset over the castle on the hill”
The 90 here is more than just a reference to the speed. It is also a symbolic reference to the artist going back to the 90s. When he was growing up while running down the hill away from his brothers. Down the country lanes is a walk down memory lane remembering his time with his friends. It was about smoking cigarettes, drinking carelessly and puking, watching the sunsets. The nostalgia in the song touches a chord in everyone’s heart whether you are 25 or 50. While the Supermarket Flowers is about a loved one’s death. The small things one does like clearing up cupboards not just as a ritual to death but a coping mechanism. An illusion of holding on to the last whispers of the person’s presence around us.
The album, however, is also an ode to all things positive. Its infectious gusto takes the listeners to remember what rebellion is in Nancy Mulligan, which speaks of eloping for love, the exhilaration during a vacation in Barcelona (“We’re going, somewhere where the sun is shining bright / Just close your eyes, and let’s pretend we’re dancing in the street /In Barcelona”). In Bibia Be Ye Ye, the song’s namesake means ‘All will be well’ in Twi, the language of an ethnic group from Ghana. The album brings alive in us a reason to wholly experience everything we live through.
Sheeran’s mastery in words and the ballad style of writing shows through most brilliantly in his love songs. In the tracks Perfect, Nancy Mullligan and Galway Girl, lines like “She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home / I found a lover to carry more than just my secrets” and “She played the fiddle in an Irish band / But she fell in love with an English man / Kissed her on the neck and then I took her by the hand / Said, Baby, I just want to dance” along with the guitar and the Irish contemporary folk tunes make these songs delightful.
Of course, the article cannot end without a mention of the single most popular song of the album, Shape of You . The song has foot tapping quality that is quite unlike any of the other songs on the album. One of the of top hits in the world, it is a mix of sexy and good music, undoubtedly making it the perfect song to dance to at a club.
The Guardian, in their review, wrote,
“But if ever there were an artist to make a critic feel redundant, it’s Ed Sheeran. Such is his confidence in Lady in Red-styled love songs or fiddle-based rap tracks that no criticism is strong enough to prevent the imminent and stratospheric sales this record will surely accrue. This is a slick, potent album – one that reeks of nostalgia and comfort, campfires, scented candles, spilt pints of Guinness and, for those not enthralled by his algorithmic songcraft, the sharp stench of a salesman’s cheap cologne.”
The biggest plus in Sheeran’s album is how well he crafts his words. They echo with the majority of his audience — the middle-class millennials — who experience what the songs talk about.
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