Since his debut in 2011, Ed Sheeran has released a number of hits. He continues this streak with his new album, “No. 6 Collaboration Project.” It’s an album unlike the rest. Each song features a popular guest artist, and the overall sound has some differences compared to his other releases Sheeran’s old songs were more soothing but with a hint of rock and alternative themes, while his new songs have more of an R&B sound to them. It’s also his first album that isn’t titled using a mathematical term, as Financial Times pointed out.
The most shocking part about the album is that very few tracks have an acoustic guitar playing in the background –– an element presented in almost all of his previous songs. Each track connects more to what the guest singer is used to. Whether it’s Chance the Rapper with rap, Travis Scott’s electric type of music or the beatboxing that comes with an Eminem track, this album certainly has several new and diverse sounds compared to what fans expect from Sheeran.
The tracklist starts with “Beautiful People” featuring Khalid, which was released as a single prior to the album coming out. Sheeran conveys the message of staying grounded no matter where life takes people. He sings about the many people who live in a materialistic society and consider themselves to be the beautiful ones, saying he’d rather not be a part of that lifestyle. One part of the pre-chorus goes, ‘We don't fit in well 'cause we are just ourselves’ to represent how these “beautiful people” aren’t as genuine as Sheeran and Khalid prefer to be. The electronic melody is what Khalid fans are used to, and the song also has a bit of a classic Ed Sheeran’s simplistic and percussive sound.
“South of the Border” features ex Fifth Harmony member Camila Cabello and rapper Cardi B. It’s about going on an exotic trip with a significant other. Most of Cabello’s solo tracks have a Cuban/Latino sound to represent her heritage. Some of the lyrics are in Spanish, which is spoken in some of Cabello’s own songs. Cardi B jumps in for the bridge to do a smaller rap portion.
One of the biggest songs people have been talking about is “I Don’t Care.” This song has been sitting in one of the top five spots on Billboard’s Hot 100 for five weeks in a row and is expected to keep rising on the chart. This track features one of Sheeran’s good friends, Justin Bieber. It was released as the first single from the album. The song talks about going home from a party Sheeran isn’t comfortable at until his lover is by his side. It’s lyrics capture the theme of being OK with not fitting in, which also refers back to his song, “Beautiful People.”
The album ends with a classic rock sound in “BLOW,” which is a trio performance with Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars. Rock ‘n’ roll was an unexpected genre for a collaboration with these artists. Stapleton is usually performs soft country, while Mars fits into R&B and Sheeran usually adds a little rock to his music. Combining these musicians led to an interesting result in a good way.
Sheeran even took the opportunity to use one of the songs as a way to announce to the public that he recently got married to his childhood best friend, Cherry Seaborn. In his song, “Remember The Name,” with Eminem and 50 Cent, he refers to his wife by singing,“Watch how the lyrics in the songs might get twisted / My wife wears red, but looks better without the lipstick.” He never mentioned it to the press or his fans until he was interviewed by iHeart Radio. According to Jen Juneau from People, the two were engaged last year and had a small wedding in December.
This album is an interesting change for the singer–songwriter. It has selections from different genres, so even those who aren’t already Sheeran fans can enjoy one or two songs from the tracklist. His multitude of loyal fans will love it as well.
Contact Gracie Brogowski at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.