Ed Sheeran’s ÷ was definitely the most anticipated album of 2017, thanks to his one-year-long social media withdrawal and the two chart-topping singles he splashed out in early January.
Despite knowing his music, I wasn’t a big fan of Ed Sheeran before so I wasn’t feeling all the hype around this release, and wasn’t really sure about what to expect. However, I loved the album and think that the main reason is that it contains songs so different from each other that can appeal to many musical tastes, but also to the varied genres one person can listen to.
This is the very reason, as much as I dig almost every song from ÷, that makes me feel like the spontaneous, personal vibe was overshadowed by the need to polish it so that it would then become the perfect product to sell. Since he said so himself when interviewed about Shape of You and Castle on the Hill in January, and how they were written to appeal to Radio 1 and Radio 2 respectively, that was something to be expected for the whole record as well.
There are the classic ballads you know he is going to deliver on, Dive and Perfect, written for that slow dance at the end of your high school prom, with the former gifting us with probably the best vocal effort of the album. Between them there’s Shape of You, which is going to be played everywhere until something else as catchy comes out, which might as well be Galway Girl, the cheekiest ÷ track.
Eraser and What Do I Know? dish out some very light critics to the capitalistic society and the money-making attitude of the music business, but never expect him to become political, as he still is a good guy who listens to his daddy’s advice: “don’t you get involved in politics, religions or other people’s quotes” and who longs to go back home, as clearly stated in Castle on the Hill. This song comes second to just Supermarket Flowers, dedicated to his grandmother, as the most heart-melting of the album.
With Bibia Be Ye Ye, he takes inspiration from his year of wandering, making use of a Ghanaian dialect, as he does of randomly placed Spanish words in Barcelona, likely to be one of the summer’s hits.
Given the disparate styles it contains, ÷ might seem more a collection of singles rather than a unique album, and surely one made to sell. Are we mad at Ed Sheeran for this? Don’t think so, as it has now been on top of charts since it was released, and it’s likely to stay there until Harry Styles’ first solo work comes out.
Poised to be a career-defining moment for him, ÷ shows how mature of an artist is Ed Sheeran, who has become one of the most skilled artists in appealing to wider audiences thanks to his broad genres repertoire, and who – finally, I daresay – has gained a substantial number of haters, which is always a good measure of someone’s success.