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The 18 most Ed Sheeran lyrics from Ed Sheeran’s new album, ÷

From “I’m just a boy with a one-man show” to “We sipped champagne out of cider cans”.

Ed Sheeran’s been pretty inescapable lately. The promotional machine behind his latest album, ÷, whirred into action months ago (leading to a number of bizarre interviews), and now the new album is here, breaking records to utterly dominate the chart. The reviews are in – and one in particular, from Laura Snapes at Pitchfork, struck a chord with everyone but Sheeran’s biggest fans.

The review eviscerated Sheeran’s “Nice Guy” persona. “Sheeran wants it both ways: artist and celebrity, nice guy who doesn’t want to alienate his fans with political convictions, anti-consumerist while gagging to dominate pop’s arms race,” writes Snapes, offering a precise analysis of “several striking lyrics about appearances on ÷, which is where the Nice Guy façade comes undone.”

If you want to spare yourself actually listening to the album, but are morbidly curious about how bad these lyrics get – fear not! We’ve rounded up the most Ed Sheeran Ed Sheeran lyrics on ÷, for your (dis)pleasure.

1. “I think that money is the root of all evil, and fame is hell”

– “Eraser”

Fuck. I’m reeling.

2. “We’re going out on our first date / You and me are thrifty, so go all you can eat / Fill up your bag and I fill up a plate / We talk for hours and hours about the sweet and the sour”

– “Shape of You”

Ed Sheeran – the millionaire who will insist you fill your bag with chicken balls and plum sauce, and bore you to death about it in the process. Quite aside from the lack of romance, I can’t get over the image of sweet and sour sauce getting all over my iPhone and make up products. Everything would be so, so sticky.

3. “I’m just a boy with a one-man show / No university, no degree”

– “What Do I Know?”

Wait, really? We’ve literally. Never. Heard that before.

4. “My daddy told me, ‘Son, don’t you get involved in politics, religions or other people’s quarrels’”

– “What Do I Know?”

“Daddy.” Daddy. DADDY.

5. “I’ll give it a chance now / Take my hand, stop, put Van the Man on the jukebox”

– “Dive”

6. “Then put Van on the jukebox, got up to dance”

– “Galway Girl”

Wow. It’s enough to put a single reference to Van Morrison songs playing from a “jukebox” (?!) on your album. But two? Truly astounding. For Ed Sheeran, hearing the dulcet tones of “Brown Eyed Girl” emerge from a coin-operated record player is the very apex of sexual ecstasy.

7. “As last orders were called was when she stood on the stool / After dancing to ceilidh singing to trad tunes / I never heard Carrickfergus ever sung so sweet / Acapella in the bar using her feet for a beat”

– “Galway Girl”

WTF. There is so much going on here. How do we even begin to unpack it all. How has Ed Sheeran managed to insert so many stereotypes into just four lines? Are we meant to find this image of a horrifically drunk girl dancing and singing on a tottering stool sexy? Is the Carrickfergus another Van Morrison reference?! I can’t.

8. “I met her on Grafton street right outside of the bar / She shared a cigarette with me while her brother played the guitar / She asked me what does it mean, the Gaelic ink on your arm?”

– “Galway Girl”

As Amy O’Connor writes on Twitter, what bar on Grafton Street?! Why is this Dubliner asking Englishman Ed Sheeran to explain his “Gaelic” (not even “Irish”) tattoo? 

9. “I get lonely and make mistakes from time to time / Se enioma enko ye, bibia be ye ye”

– “Bibia Be Ye Ye”

10. “Las Ramblas, I’ll meet you / We’ll dance around La Sagrada Familia (Barcelona) / Drinking Sangría / Mi niña, te amo mi cariño (Barcelona) / Mamacita, rica Sí tú, te adoro, señorita (Barcelona) / Nosotros, vivir la vida Come on, let’s be free in Barcelona

– “Barcelona”

There’s a healthy amount of cognitive dissonance on this album for Ed to criticise that New Man for his poor understanding of his own tribal tattoos, but happily praise his own “Gaelic” ones and sing in Twi and broken Spanish.

11. “The way she holds me when the lights go low / Shakes my soul like a pothole every time”

– “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here”

God, he’s just so normal, isn’t he? He knows about things like driving, and road surface upkeep.

12. “I gave all my oxygen to people that could breathe / I gave away my money and now we don’t even speak / I drove miles and miles, but would you do the same for me? / Oh, honestly?”

– “Save Myself”

13. “I gave you all my energy and I took away your pain / ‘Cause human beings are destined to radiate or drain”

– “Save Myself”

Jesus, never ask Ed Sheeran for anything – he will hold it over your head until the day he dies. That oxygen metaphor is something else. You asked him for oxygen – WHEN YOU COULD ALREADY BREATHE, you cruel, selfish, git. Ed’s a warming, generous radiator – and you’re a fucking drain. The true victim of Ed’s multimillion dollar empire? Himself.

14. “Ain’t got a soapbox I can stand upon / But God gave me a stage, a guitar and a song”

– “What Do I Know?”

Sheeran frames himself as an innocent golden heart for not having a soapbox, or an interest in politics, or indeed, anything at all, other than a belief that he “could change this whole world with a piano”. If this seems like a contradiction, know now that “What Do I Know?” is not actually a humble admittance that Sheeran doesn’t know a lot, but a weird boast about how he is so superior to everyone else for focusing on music, love and positivity instead of trivial things like jeans. Or international conflicts.

15. “Everybody’s talking ‘bout exponential growth / And the stock market crashing and their portfolios / While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote”

– “What Do I Know?”

As Snapes writes, Ed’s “feeble message falls apart when the self-confessed careerist sighs at someone surely in his same tax bracket” for talking about money. If you need reminding, whilst promoting this album Sheeran has admitted that he wants “to be the biggest male artist in the world”, spoken of his certainty that this album will sell over 14 million copies, and responded to the question “What’s been the high point of the last five years?” with “this year”, because “everyone I was scared of releasing albums around me released them all last year - people like Beyoncé and The Weekend and Bruno Mars. Taylor [Swift] isn’t going to be releasing until probably the end of this year […] So I’ve got a full year of just all Ed, all the time.”

16. “I heard he spent five hundred pounds on jeans / Goes to the gym at least six times a week Wears boat shoes with no socks on his feet / And I hear he’s on a new diet and watches what he eats / He’s got his eyebrows plucked and his arsehole bleached”

– “New Man”

Ed Sheeran has never cared about his appearance in his life. Not once. He has certainly never spent a career moulding a specifically relatable image using a team of stylists and PRs and thousands of pounds of products. He’s also definitely not bitter.

17. “You were the type of girl who sat beside the water readin’ / Eatin’ a packet of crisps, but you will never find you cheatin’ / Now you’re eatin’ kale, hittin’ the gym / Keepin’ up with Kylie and Kim In the back of the club, kissin’ a boy that ain’t him”

– “New Man”

Ah, yes, because if you watch Keeping Up With the Kardashians even once, you start to cheat on your boyfriend. Sorry. That’s just science, ladies. You wouldn’t get it. You’re too busy eating kale and taking selfies.

18. “We sipped champagne out of cider cans”

– “New Man”

We’ve found it. The one. Truly, this is the most Ed Sheeran lyric of all time. Ed Sheeran wants you to know that he can afford champagne (because success) but he’s not, like, a posho – no, he drinks it out of a cider can, looking like the same old chap he always has been. But champagne, as we all know, comes in a champagne bottle, not a cider can.

Ed Sheeran has spent time and effort dexterously pouring a fizzing bottle of champagne through the tiny hole in the top of a tinny, just to look a bit more normo. It probably went everywhere. They must have lost a good third of that bottle in the process. But it was all worth it, in the end, to look like they were drinking cider. Is that not the ultimate metaphor for Ed Sheeran as a brand: bending over backwards to shove an aspirational, celeb product into a more rough and ready packaging? And Ed has the gall to spend the majority of this song slamming the New Man for going to the gym and plucking his eyebrows... At least he drinks his booze out of whatever container it comes in.

***

Now listen to Anna discussing Ed Sheeran’s lyrics on the NS pop culture podcast, SRSLY:

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.

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Charlottesville: a town haunted by the far right

Locals fear a bitter far right will return.

On 12 August, a car ploughed down pedestrians in the street where I used to buy my pecan pies. I had recently returned to London from Charlottesville, Virginia – the scene of what appears to have been an act of white supremacist terrorism – having worked and taught at the university there for four years. While I unpacked boxes of books, the streets I knew so well were full of hate and fire.

The horror began on the evening of Friday 11 August, when thugs with torches marched across the “Lawn”. Running through the heart of the university, this is where, each Halloween, children don ghoulish costumes and trick-or-treat delighted and generous fourth-year undergraduates.

But there were true monsters there that night. They took their stand on the steps of the neoclassical Rotunda – the site of graduation – to face down a congregation about to spill out of St Paul’s Episcopal opposite.

Then, on Saturday morning, a teeming mass of different groups gathered in Emancipation Park (formerly Lee Park), where my toddler ran through splash pads in the summer.

We knew it was coming. Some of the groups were at previous events in Charlottesville’s “summer of hate”. Ever since a permit was granted for the “Unite the Right” march, we feared that this would be a tipping point. I am unsure whether I should have been there, or whether I was wise to stay away.

The truth is that this had nothing to do with Charlottesville – and everything to do with it. From one perspective, our small, sleepy university town near the Blue Ridge Mountains was the victim of a showdown between out-of-towners. The fighting was largely not between local neo-Nazis and African Americans, or their white neighbours, for that matter. It was between neo-Nazis from far afield – James Alex Fields, Jr, accused of being the driver of the lethal Dodge Challenger, was born in Kentucky and lives in Ohio – and outside groups such as “Antifa” (anti-fascist). It was a foreign culture that was foisted upon the city.

Charlottesville is to the American east coast what Berkeley is to the west: a bastion of liberalism and political correctness, supportive of the kind of social change that the alt-right despises. Just off camera in the national newsfeeds was a banner hung from the public  library at the entrance of Emancipation Park, reading: “Proud of diversity”.

I heard more snippets of information as events unfolded. The counter-protesters began the day by drawing on the strength of the black church. A 6am prayer meeting at our local church, First Baptist on Main (the only church in Charlottesville where all races worshipped together before the Civil War), set the tone for the non-violent opposition.

The preacher told the congregation: “We can’t hate these brothers. They have a twisted ideology and they are deeply mistaken in their claim to follow Christ, but they are still our brothers.” Then he introduced the hymns. “The resistance of black people to oppression has only been kept alive through music.”

The congregation exited on to Main Street, opposite my old butcher JM Stock Provisions, and walked down to the statue of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark – the early 19th-century Bear Grylls types who explored the west. They went past Feast! – the delicacy market where we used to spend our Saturday mornings – and on to the dreamy downtown mall where my wife and I strolled on summer evenings and ate southern-fried chicken at the Whiskey Jar.

The permit for the “protest” was noon to 5pm but violence erupted earlier. Between 10.30am and 12pm, the white supremacists, protected by a paramilitary guard, attacked their opponents. As the skirmishes intensified, police were forced to encircle the clashing groups and created, in effect, a bizarre zone of “acceptable” violence. Until the governor declared a state of emergency, grown men threw bottles of piss at each other.

At noon, the crowd was dispersed and the protesters spilled out into the side streets. This was when the riot climaxed with the horrific death of the 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Throughout Saturday afternoon and evening, the far-right groups marauded the suburbs while residents locked their doors and closed their blinds.

I sat in London late into the night as information and prayer requests trickled through. “There are roughly 1,000 Nazis/KKK/alt-right/southern nationalists still around – in a city of 50,000 residents. If you’re the praying type, keep it up.”

No one in Charlottesville is in any doubt as to how this atrocity became possible. Donald Trump has brought these sects to group consciousness. They have risen above their infighting to articulate a common ground, transcending the bickering that mercifully held them back in the past.

In the immediate aftermath, there is clarity as well as fury. My colleague Charles Mathewes, a theologian and historian, remarked: “I still cannot believe we have to fight Nazis – real, actual, swastika-flag-waving, be-uniformed, gun-toting Nazis, along with armed, explicit racists, white supremacists and KKK members. I mean, was the 20th century simply forgotten?”

There is also a sense of foreboding, because the overwhelming feeling with which the enemy left was not triumph but bitterness. Their permit had been to protest from noon to 5pm. They terrorised a town with their chants of “Blood and soil!” but their free speech was apparently not heard. Their safe space, they claim, was not protected.

The next day, the organiser of the march, Jason Kessler, held a press conference to air his grievances. The fear is that the indignant white supremacists will be back in greater force to press their rights.

If that happens, there is one certainty. At one point during the dawn service at First Baptist, a black woman took the stand. “Our people have been oppressed for 400 years,” she said. “What we have learned is that the only weapon which wins the war is love.”

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear