Ed Sheeran’s Preview: New Singles Disappoint


British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran shocked fans by releasing two singles titled “Castle on a Hill” and “Shape of You” after a nearly two-year hiatus.

The songs, both released Jan. 6, are only a small taste of Sheeran’s musical and lyrical capacity — he later announced that a full album, titled “÷” was to follow. Compared to his past releases, ones that I find myself revisiting time and time again, these two songs clearly lack a distinguishing voice.

“Castle on a Hill” starts with a fast-paced pop beat, which lead into lyrics telling a reminiscent tale of his childhood. The lyrics are well thought out, showing a steady story development as he matures through the years and experiences the sentiments of growing up. It’s a feel-good song that will inevitably sell favorably, but I couldn’t find anything exceptional in the recurring beats or melody.

His second song, “Shape of You,” with its guitar riffs and strong beat, can be easily comparable to his 2014 hit, “Don’t.” The same pauses in between certain words and underlying theme of sensuality were obvious. I genuinely wanted to appreciate Sheeran’s songwriting capabilities, but this track fails to live up to the praise and publicity that it receives.

Sheeran’s style is unique in that he utilizes acoustics, which highlight his bold vocals. However, within his own discography, there was no experimentation, and each new release can be misheard as a previous one. It’s understandable that Sheeran would want to use an identical formula that he used for his past hits, since they have all been critically-acclaimed and adored worldwide. Nevertheless, I believe that as an artist, fame should be secondary to progress, and Sheeran’s songs failed to move me.
To his credit, Sheeran certainly created a fluid storyline from one album release to another. Starting with “+” in 2011, he introduced a mellow and soft tone that evolved into more dynamic and spirited anthems three years later in “x”. Sheeran’s previous albums set a foundation for further growth in these new releases, which fall short of expectations. While these tracks are just a sample of what’s to come in the future for Sheeran, they’re not his best works and leave ample room for improvement.  

Written by Ashley Liang, Staff writer
Photo courtesy of Genius.com

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