Unless you were living under a rock for the past two weeks, you will know that Ed Sheeran has returned from his year-long hiatus to deliver new music. At 5am on the 6th of January, Sheeran released two brand new singles, and at 7am appeared on BBC Radio 1 for his first public interview in a year. The two singles, “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You” flew almost instantly to the number one and two spots in the UK, Ireland and across the world.
“Castle on the Hill” is an ode to Sheeran’s hometown in Suffolk, and speaks of his fond memories and love for friends from home. With a stomping beat and acoustic feel, as well as Sheeran’s slightly shouted vocal line, it can be quite moving, even if to just hear Sheeran be so honest again. “The Shape of You” is almost the exact opposite: originally written by Sheeran for Rihanna, it tells the story of Sheeran meeting a woman in a bar and their seduction process. With the normal looped, guitar-produced percussion and a simple piano line, it’s clear that it would have been highly successful no matter who sang it. “The Shape of You” is the club hit out of the two, but both are already successful. They have both broken Spotify’s record for most streams within 24 hours of release, with 13 million combined streams. The previous record was held by One Direction’s “Drag Me Down”, which was streamed 4 million times: both of Sheeran’s songs had more than 6 Million streams.
Speaking on the sound of his new album, he described it as “a schizophrenic album” with lots of “weird, different sounds”, including Irish music, which was recorded when Sheeran invited Irish Trad group Beoga to record at his house, songs that were written on The Queen Elizabeth II boat, and a song written in Twi, an official Ghanaian dialect. From early signs, Ed Sheeran seems to be preparing himself to take over the world once again.