Singles: Ed Sheeran, ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle on the Hill’


Ed Sheeran, Shape of You © AtlanticBritish pop singer/songwriter darling Ed Sheeran is due for a big year in 2017 given two awesome new singles in “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill.”

Ed Sheeran has established himself as one everybody’s favorite musicians. Face it – the Brit singer/songwriter is cool AF.  It’s been two-and-a-half years since X won critics and fans’ hearts alike.  Finally, Sheeran returns with two new singles, slated to appear on his forthcoming album, Divide: “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill.”  Both singles are expected to appear on his forthcoming album, Divide.

“Shape of You” 

★★★★

“Shape of You” doesn’t disappoint in the slightest.  From the jump, “Shape of You” sounds like Sia. There are similarities to “The Greatest” and “Cheap Thrills.” Interestingly, the single wasn’t written by Sia, despite having similar characteristics. An article on Genius, penned by Chris Mench, analyzes the similarities to Sia, specifically “Cheap Thrills.” Despite the similarities, “Shape of You” is slickly produced, never over-produced. It has a danceable, tropical sensibility normally not associated with Sheeran, but surprisingly effective. “Shape of You” is a successful, different look for Ed.

Vocally, Sheeran sounds like a champ, particularly when his upper register contrasts his lower and middle register. The melody showcases an excellent rhythmic approach throughout the song.  The verses in particular are quick, with a hip-hop driven approach.

The pre-chorus sets the tone for a catchy forthcoming chorus.  The chorus, likewise, is chocked full of swagger:

“I’m in love with the shape of you / we push and pull like a magnet do / although my heart is falling too / I’m in love with your body / and last night you were in my room / and now my bedsheets smell like you / Every day discovering something brand new / I’m in love with your body.”

All in all, “Shape of You” is a fun, well-performed and produced song that is something of a departure for the pop singer-songwriter. Ed certainly amplifies his “cool factor,” as if he needed to.

“Castle on the Hill”

★★★★

Of the two new Ed Sheeran songs, “Castle on the Hill” embraces more of the singer-songwriter, pop-rock sound. He does a superb job of capturing a narrative approach on the verses. Lyrically, Sheeran is honest, particularly on the second verse:

“Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes / running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends / Had my first kiss on a Friday night, I don’t reckon that I did it right…”

The chorus is the selling point of “Castle on the Hill,” much like other songs by the British standout. He delivers enthusiastic, energetic vocals on the memorable chorus:

“I’m on my way / Driving at 90 down those country lanes / Singing to ‘Tiny Dancer’ / And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real / We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill / Over the castle on the hill / Over the castle on the hill.” 

He continues to solidify greatness on the remarkable bridge.  One final bright spot comes towards the end. At the beginning of the final chorus, there is a change of instrumentation to piano, before returning to the guitar-driven, rock-pop sound.  All in all, “Castle on the Hill” is another homerun hit single from Sheeran.  It is well-produced, authentic, and thoughtful.

Final Thoughts

So, which Ed Sheeran single is the best? Depends on preference.  Both singles are excellent, yet completely different.  “Shape of You” sounds most likely to be a big hit. However, “Castle on the Hill” is the better-written song.  Regardless, Sheeran is sure to have a big year in 2017.

Ed Sheeran • DivideAtlantic • Release: Album T.B.A.
Photo Credit: Atlantic
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