Everyone’s favourite normcore icon has returned to remind us that, honestly, he is still just like us.
Ed Sheeran’s fourth studio album, a follow-on from an EP he made with grime artists back in 2011 when he was trying to get signed, is a star-studded display of how far he’s come.
With huge names like Cardi B, Bruno Mars, 50 Cent, Justin Bieber, Eminem, Stormzy and Skrillex, this is the definition of rolling out the big guns – but Sheeran’s references to £2 pints at Wetherspoon’s and his fondness for crisps reminds us that his most beloved quality is being truly, utterly normal.
Spanning pop, R&B, grime, rock and hip-hop, Sheeran has used this album to experiment – and happily it hasn’t completely blown up in his face.
Here’s the full tracklist, ranked from best to worst:
1. Take Me Back To London (Ft. Stormzy)
Call us biased, but we love a UK anthem and Stormzy got us feeling more patriotic than ever with that Glasto performance. He’s the star on this track, but Sheeran’s attempt at a grime flow is pretty impressive. I anoint this a certified banger.
Best lyric: Now I’m back in the bits with my guy / Give me a packet of crisps and my pint. And a new national anthem was born.
2. I Don’t Care (Ft. Justin Bieber)
The album’s first single release, this vaguely dancehall-inspired song is probably already etched on your brain. Frustratingly catchy, every time I hear it I think of that meme of Jay Z begrudgingly nodding his head to the beat. It’s a summer bop, there’s no two ways about it.
Best lyric: I don’t like nobody but you, I hate everyone here. We’ve all been to one of those parties.
3. Beautiful People (Ft. Khalid)
This is a genius collaboration between two songwriting powerhouses, so it was always going to be brilliant. It has the kind of big, cinematic feel that makes me think of a romantic movie montage.
Best lyric: I could use some help getting out of this conversation. Me every time a man approaches me at the gym.
4. Put It All On Me (Ft. Ella Mai)
The UK darling of R&B seems like another natural team-up for Sheeran, and their voices sound silky smooth on this duet. It feels like the collaborator takes the lead here – not something we see often on this album – with her signature early-00s sound.
Best lyric: I try to be strong, but I got demons / So can I lean on you? Pretty cute.
5. Cross Me (Ft. Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock)
You’d expect upcoming Philadelphia rapper PnB Rock to get lost on this alongside the energetic Chance, but his verse more than holds its own. With a smooth Sexual Healing sample, it’s a chilled tune I could see myself driving at night to (if I had a car).
Best lyric: You don’t know that my girl been doing CrossFit. Weird flex, but OK.
6. 1000 Nights (Ft. Meek Mill and A Boogie wit da Hoodie)
The reason this song is good has absolutely nothing to do with Ed Sheeran and his dodgy Migos-style ad libs, but thankfully Meek Mill and A Boogie get plenty of time to shine.
Best lyric: Wetherspoon’s was an easy option to get a cheaper lunch and a £2 pint. I imagine Meek Mill was pretty baffled by this.
7. South Of The Border (Ft. Camila Cabello and Cardi B)
As it turns out, one half-decent Cardi B verse does not a banger make. This is pleasing Latin-influenced pop that you’ll forget as soon as it’s over – and it loses points for including a very uncomfortable line about “jungle fever”…
Best lyric: You’ve got a girl that could finally do it all / Drop an album, drop a baby but I never drop the ball. As ever, Cardi has a way with words.
8. Feels (Ft. Young Thug and J Hus)
I have to admit, when I saw Young Thug and J Hus on this, I expected a lot more. It’s slightly mushy in true Sheeran style, and the rappers respective takes on young love don’t quite fit.
Best lyric: I’m good for your health, this can’t be a sin / This love give you protein and vitamin. J Hus = a health-conscious king.
9. Antisocial (Ft. Travis Scott)
Again, this should be better. It feels like an attempt to recreate the unlikely magic Travis Scott had with James Blake on Mile High – even down to an identical café scene in the two music videos. I don’t hate it though.
Best lyric: I don’t mess with your energy, no photos / So antisocial, but I don’t care. Yes Ed, we’re gathering that.
10. Way To Break My Heart (Ft. Skrillex)
Why am I crying in the club right now? This is so much slower and more emotional than you’d think considering the feature, or at least it is until the weird synthy breakdown when I wasn’t sure if I should be weeping or fist-pumping.
Best lyric: Star sign, Gemini / Brown eyes, fair hair in the light. Of course Ed Sheeran is a horoscopes guy. Of course.
11. I Don’t Want Your Money (Ft. H.E.R)
The stunningly beautiful voice of R&B star H.E.R was sadly not enough to distract me from the weird 1950s ‘men are the breadwinners’ vibe of this song.
Best lyric: Boy, when you coming home? / I can’t be building a family life here on my own. See what I mean about the weird vibe?
12. Nothing On You (Ft. Paulo Londra and Dave)
This feels random, and not in a good way. Sheeran tries to be sexy, Argentinian rapper Paulo Londra actually pulls it off, and Dave barely gets a look-in – a crime in itself.
Best lyric: They ain’t got nothing on you / And you ain’t got nothing on you. I get it!
13. Best Part Of Me (Ft. Yebba)
The kind of schmaltz your nan will love, this feels like it belongs on Sheeran’s first album. Arksansas singer Yebba has a hauntingly beautiful tone, though – she also did the chorus for Chance the Rapper’s Same Drugs.
Best lyric: I never catch the train on time / Always 30 minutes behind. Highly relatable.
14. BLOW (Ft. Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars)
This is a poor imitation of an 80s headbanger, and the lyrics are beyond naff. The only thing that saves it is the music video, which features badass female versions of the three singers. If only they’d sung the song instead.
Best lyric: Pull my trigger, let me blow your mind. No really, this is the best lyric…
15. Remember The Name (Ft. 50 Cent and Eminem)
No, no, NO. How did a group that included FOUR iconic rappers get this so terribly wrong. With Outkast’s Andre 3000 and Big Boi behind the scenes and 50 Cent and Eminem upfront, it was set to be one of the most exciting rap collaborations in years. I’m happy for Sheeran hooking up with his childhood heroes and everything, but the three of them singing on that chorus is genuinely terrible. My heart hurts.
Best lyric: Grew up ten miles from the town of Ipswich. Never heard that in a rap verse before, have you?