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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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Social media tome #Republic questions the wisdom of crowds

Cass R Sunstein explores how insulation pushes groups towards more extreme opinions.

Cass Sunstein, one of the leading public intellectuals in the United States and a former Obama administration official, has worried and written for more than 15 years about the effects of the internet and digital communications on democracy. This book, his third on the subject, tackles social media.

The heart of his argument lies in the cumulative, collective effect of what individuals do online. Networking, shopping, dating and activism are all transformed by the engine of opportunity that is the internet. But those new links and choices produce a malign side effect: “filter bubbles”, inside which like-minded people shut themselves off from opinions that might challenge their assumptions. Insulation pushes groups towards more extreme opinions.

Sunstein’s organising principle is the ­difference between consumer and political sovereignty. The former promotes individual choice despite its possible consequences; the latter takes into account the needs of society as a whole. His inspiration is Jane Jacobs, the historian of US cities who celebrated, in poetic language, the benign and enriching effect on democracy of random encounters between citizens on pavements and in parks. How do we now reverse or dilute the polarisation driven by Facebook and Twitter?

The solutions Sunstein proposes for this very difficult problem are oddly tentative: websites stocked with challenging ideas and deliberative debates, voluntary self-regulation and “serendipity buttons”. He rightly stresses transparency: we know far too little about the algorithms that sift news for our attention on the networks. Facebook has talked about trying to show news that is “engaging” and “interesting”, without ever engaging in detailed public discussion of what these words mean. The disclosure requirements for social networks “require consideration”, Sunstein writes, without saying whether Facebook might have to be required legally to explain precisely how it routes news to almost two billion users.

Sunstein’s most interesting arguments are myth-busters. He questions the “wisdom of crowds”, while refraining from pointing out directly that the single strongest argument against this idea is the inequality of opinions. Not all opinions are equally valuable. He warily suggests what only a very few American voices have so far dared to say: that the First Amendment to the constitution, which guarantees a free press, should not be treated – as the courts have recently tended to do – as an equally strong protection for the freedom of all speech.

Sunstein is nostalgic for the media system and regulation of the past. I spent years working for a daily “general-interest” newspaper (the Times) and regret the decline of those outlets as much as he does, yet there is no reversing the technological and economic changes that have undermined them. It might have been a mistake to deregulate television in the United States, and killing the “fairness doctrine” might have had unforeseen effects, but that does not deal with the dilemmas thrown up by WhatsApp or Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter.

Users of these platforms face the problem of managing abundance. Writers such as Sunstein imply that people who lock themselves in filter bubbles are deplorably unable to break out of their informational isolation. But we all now live in bubbles that we design to make sense of the torrent of information flowing through our phones. Better-designed, heterogeneous bubbles include the unexpected and the challenging.

Yet the problem lies deeper than the quality of your bubble. Polarised societies can no longer agree on how to recognise the truth. Filter bubbles play a part, but so do a preference for emotion over reason, attacks on scientific fact from religion, decades of public emphasis on self-fulfilment, and a belief that political elites are stagnant and corrupt. Like many journalists, Sunstein treats the problem of a malfunctioning communications system as a supply-side matter: the information being generated and distributed ought to be better.

In the case of fake news, that is indisputable. But there is also a demand-side problem, one that hinges on the motives of those consuming information. If, inside their bubbles, people are not curious about alternative opinions, are indifferent to critical thinking and prefer stoking their dislike – of, say, Hillary Clinton – will they have even the slightest interest in venturing outside their comfort zone? Do we have a right to ignore the views of others, or an obligation to square up to them? Millions of Americans believe that one of the most important guarantees in their constitution is the right to be left alone – and that includes being left alone by the New York Times.

Sunstein does not venture far into this territory. He only hints that if we worry about what people know, we must also worry about what kinds of societies we build. Globalisation has reshaped communities, dismantling some and building others online, but the net effect has been to reduce deliberation and increase a tendency to press the “Like” button, or loathe opponents you can’t see or hear. The ability to debate civilly and well may depend on complex social chemistry and many ingredients – elite expertise, education, critical thinking, culture, law – but we need to be thinking about the best recipes. 

George Brock is the author of “Out of Print: Newspapers, Journalism and the Business of News in the Digital Age” (Kogan Page)

#Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media
Cass R Sunstein
Princeton University Press, 328pp, £24.95​

George Brock is a former managing editor of The Times who is now head of journalism at City University in London.

This article first appeared in the 22 June 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The zombie PM

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