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Divide by Ed Sheeran This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

5, x, +, ÷; although this list may seem like miscellaneous math terms, they are much more for anyone familiar with the works of Ed Sheeran. Beginning with his 2015 EP, the list includes his other – intentionally math themed – albums. On March 3, 2017 Ed Sheeran released the most recent album, “÷” (pronounced “Divide”), his first album since 2014. The sixteen-track album is loved not only by long-time fans of Sheeran, but also those who have never heard his other songs.
Following in the footsteps of Sheeran’s previous album x, ÷ has achieved unprecedented success, breaking records and topping charts. The album was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and RollingStone reports that 451,000 copies were sold in the first week. Additionally, ÷ reached remarkable popularity, earning “90,000 streaming equivalent album units (which equates to 134.6 million streams of songs from the album in the tracking week)”, in this respect second only to J. Cole’s 4 Your Eyez Only (Caulfield). The album surpassed one million sales in the United Kingdom after only sixteen days. Unsurprisingly, Sheeran continues to grow in popularity and success.
The songs in ÷ are all their own style yet still distinctly Ed Sheeran’s. Two of the tracks, “Castle on a Hill” and “Shape of You” were pre-released as singles; the other fourteen were greatly anticipated. Sheeran certainly did not disappoint, appealing to all.  ÷ includes slow, heartwarming ballads such as “Perfect”; uplifting pop songs such as the aforementioned singles, and even a meaningful tribute to   late grandmother, “Supermarket Flowers”. Sheeran’s ability to venture into new styles is demonstrated in the fourteenth track, “Bibia Be Ye Ye”. The song was recorded in Ghana and some lyrics are in Twi, a subgroup of the Niger-Congo language. ÷ displays Sheeran’s talent as a vocalist, musician, and lyricist without belonging to a single genre or conforming to the expected. Relatedly, Sheeran’s success is largely linked to his profound, ingenious lyrics. Whether they are about love in “What Do I Know?”: “Love could change the world in a moment, but what do I know?”, or “Eraser” which chronicles Sheeran’s struggles with fame: “I used to think that nothing could be better than touring the world with my songs. I chased the picture perfect life; I think they painted it wrong. I think that money is the route of all evil, and fame is hell.”, Sheeran manages to reach deep into the souls of his audience. Ed Sheeran ingeniously combines
Despite such success, there are still critics of Sheeran’s work. Harriet Gibsone, writing for the Guardian, gave ÷ two stars out of five, stating that “One of the benefits of Sheeran’s everybloke background is that he is able to shape-shift from song to song: his origins are so generic that he loses none of his integrity with each new style”. This claim is inaccurate and realistically has no indisputable evidence. The attack on Sheeran’s “everybloke background” is completely inappropriate, primarily because it is uncontrollable, but also because Sheeran incorporates themes such as family, childhood, and home into his works. “Nancy Mulligan” is inspired by the story of his paternal grandparents’ relationship, “Castle on the Hill” reminisces on his childhood in Framlingham, Suffolk, and “Eraser” actually discusses Sheeran’s growth from a small town choir member to worldwide phenomenon. Based on this, it is clear that Ed Sheeran’s decision to write songs belonging to a variety of styles was not because of his relatively normal childhood nor intended as a marketing ploy. Instead, it is a way that Sheeran chose to represent his own ideas and feelings. It is impossible for a single artist to appeal to every single person; however, Sheeran is certainly able to captivate many.
As a steadfast fan of Sheeran, I eagerly awaited the arrival of this most recent album. Ed Sheeran has always impressed me with the genuine expression, and I knew ÷ would not be any different. Every song, regardless of style or concept, is new and a change from the mundane pop or electronic music played non-stop on the radio. In my opinion, “What Do I Know?” and the heartfelt ballad “Happier” best encapsulate the characteristics that have become essential to Sheeran’s music.
There were high expectations for Sheeran’s third studio album. ÷ manages to not only reach these predictions, but also soar past and prove once again, that Ed Sheeran is a musical force to be reckoned with. The excellence displayed in this album leaves only one question: How will Sheeran manage to top this?

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