In March of 2017, Ed Sheeran released his third album, ÷, and it was a huge success. It topped the charts of a total of 14 countries, and it sold 672,000 copies within the first week in the UK, making it the fastest selling album there in history. The most popular songs on his album were his lead singles “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill”. “Shape of You” debuted as number one on the UK singles chart and “Castle on the Hill” debuted as number two, making Sheeran the only artist in UK chart history to ever have two songs in the top two positions during the same week.
Although the content was a smashing hit, I think the most interesting thing about this album is how Sheeran went about writing it. He announced the following through his Instagram in December of 2015:
“I’m taking a break from my phone, emails and all social media for a while, I’ve had such an amazing ride over the last 5 years but I find myself seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes so I’m taking this opportunity of me not having to be anywhere or do anything to travel the world and see everything I missed. To my family and friends, if you love me you will understand me buggering off for a bit, to my fans, the 3rd album is on its way and is the best thing I have made thus far. See you all next autumn, and thank you for being amazing.”
He took two years and traveled the world without any contact with his life back home, and the adventures and various experiences from his travels are what he based some of the songs on this new album around. For example, “Galways Girl” was recorded by Sheeran and an Irish band called Beoga in Ireland, “Bibia Be Ye Ye” was inspired by his trip to Ghana, and he wrote “Barcelona” while in Spain. He released music videos to “Galway Girl” and “Bibia Be Ye Ye” that were both montages of his trips to Ireland and Ghana, respectfully, both of which turned out really well.
Not all of the songs on this album, however, were based around his aventures. In the past, most of Sheeran’s hits have been catchy songs about a girl or falling in love, and there were still some songs that focused on those ideas in this album like the tracks “Dive” or “Perfect”. But many of the songs on this album were very personalized and were written about himself or his family like “Eraser”, “Supermarket Flowers” or “Nancy Mulligan” which was different from what he has produced in the past. The song “Eraser” was about his life story and how he has made it to where he is now, “Supermarket Flowers” is written about the death of his Grandmother, and “Nancy Mulligan” is about the story of his grandparents running away and getting married in secret.
Altogether, Divide was a very successful album, and the success has carried over to his current worldwide tour. I think he took a pretty big risk with this album because many of the songs he released were unlike anything he had previously done, but his fans loved it and many say it is his best album yet.