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÷
Divide cover.png
Studio album by Ed Sheeran
Released 3 March 2017
Genre Pop[1][2]
Length 46:14
Label
Producer
Ed Sheeran chronology
5
(2015)
÷
(2017)
Singles from ÷
  1. "Castle on the Hill"
    Released: 6 January 2017
  2. "Shape of You"
    Released: 6 January 2017
  3. "Galway Girl"
    Released: 17 March 2017
  4. "Perfect"
    Released: 26 September 2017
  5. "Happier"
    Released: 27 April 2018

÷ (pronounced "divide") is the third studio album by English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. It was released on 3 March 2017 through Asylum Records and Atlantic Records. "Castle on the Hill" and "Shape of You" were released as the album's lead singles on 6 January 2017.

The album debuted at number one in the United Kingdom, selling 672,000 units in its first week, making it the fastest-selling album by a male artist there and the third-highest opening behind Adele's 25 and Oasis' Be Here Now. It also topped the charts in 14 countries, including the United States, Canada, and Australia. All the tracks on the album reached the top 20 of the UK Singles Chart in the week of the album's release, due mainly to heavy streaming. The dominance of its tracks on the UK chart led to calls for change on how the single chart is compiled,[3] and the Official Charts Company then introduced new rules limiting tracks eligible for entry in the top 100 to three per main artist, as well as adjusting the streams-to-sales ratio for older songs.[4]

The album won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards.[5][6]

Background[edit]

On 13 December 2015, Sheeran announced a self-imposed hiatus from social media, commenting that he found himself "seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes."[7] He further ensured that some of this time would be spent creating his third album, which he considered "the best thing I have made thus far." Exactly one year after this announcement, on 13 December 2016, Sheeran's various social media platforms posted pictures of a blank blue square to state his imminent return to music.[8] On 1 January 2017, Sheeran officially ended his hiatus by announcing that "new music" would be released on 6 January.[9] On 12 January 2017, Sheeran revealed the track list and the release date for the album with its pre-order.[10][11]

Singles[edit]

"Castle on the Hill" and "Shape of You", the album's lead singles, were issued on 6 January 2017. Sheeran teased the tracks on social media during the week leading up to their release, posting instrumental extracts and each song's opening lyric.[12][13]

"Galway Girl" was announced as the third single via Sheeran's Twitter on 17 March 2017.[14] It was added to BBC Radio 2's playlist the following day (18 March 2017).[15]

On 21 August 2017, Billboard announced that "Perfect" would be the fourth single from the album.[16] The song was sent to top 40 radio on 26 September 2017.[17]

"Happier" was released on 27 April 2018 as the album's fifth single in Italy.[18]

Promotional singles[edit]

"How Would You Feel (Paean)" was released on 17 February 2017 as a promotional single with its pre-order.[19]

An extended live acoustic version of "Eraser" debuted on the SB.TV YouTube channel on 28 February 2017; marking the 10th year anniversary of SB.TV's involvement with YouTube, and the seventh anniversary of Sheeran's YouTube involvement with SB.TV.[20][21]

"Supermarket Flowers" was released as a promotional single following Sheeran's performance at the 2017 Brit Awards.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic62/100[22]
Review scores
SourceRating
AllMusic3.5/5 stars[1]
The Arts Desk4/5 stars[23]
Consequence of SoundC-[2]
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[24]
Entertainment WeeklyB-[25]
The Guardian2/5 stars[26]
The Independent4/5 stars[27]
NME4/5 stars[28]
Pitchfork2.8/10[29]
Rolling Stone4/5 stars[30]

÷ has been given a Metacritic score of 62 based on 17 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[22][31] Maura Johnston of Rolling Stone gave a four-star review, commenting that "Ed is still showcasing pop savvy on Divide" and going on to say that he "doubles down on the blend of hip-hop bravado and everyday-bloke songwriting that helped him break out at the turn of the decade."[30] Roisin O'Connor of The Independent also gave the album a four-star rating, claiming "[the album] leans on little asides from Sheeran's own talent" and that it was "astonishing for its sheer ambition alone".[27] Jordan Bassett of NME described the album as "a collection that, somehow, adheres to his perfect pop template... while also being quietly weird", and that the album is "likeable", "assured but unassuming and sometimes hard to fathom".[28] Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, after commenting on the album's "missteps", said that it "is certain to add listeners, subtract a few weary of his inconsistency, but definitely multiply his bank account", and ultimately called Sheeran "a special talent".[32]

Some reviews were unfavourable; Harriet Gibsone of The Guardian gave the album a two-star rating out of five, calling it "no less calculating than his peers at the very top level of pop stardom".[26] In a negative review of 2.8 out of 10, Laura Snapes of Pitchfork stated: "considering he [Sheeran] is among the most successful songwriters in the world, a lot of his lyrics do not even scan."[29] In another negative review, writing for Drowned in Sound, David Hillier gave ÷ a 3/10 rating, calling it "the most anodyne and bland pop album possible."[33]

Commercial performance[edit]

The album sold 232,000 physical and digital copies in the UK on its first day of release without the inclusion of streaming data, more than the sales of Sheeran's previous album x in its first week.[34] In its three days, the album continued to increase in sales and sold over 432,000 copies, thereby topping the UK Albums Chart with just three days of availability. The album sold 63% in physical format, 31% in digital, and 6% in streaming equivalent sales.[35] The album sold a total of 672,000 copies in the UK during its first week, making it the nation's fastest-selling album by a male artist and the third highest opening overall behind Adele's 25 (which sold 800,307 copies in its first week) and Oasis' Be Here Now (which sold 696,000 copies in its first week).[36] In ÷'s opening week, Sheeran had his first three albums chart in the top five in the UK. Additionally, it broke the record for the most top 10 songs from a single album on the UK Singles Chart (with nine songs in the top 10 in a single week as well), surpassing a record previously held by Calvin Harris. All 16 songs from the album also entered the top 20.[37][38] The album reached one million sales in the UK after just 16 days.[39] In the first half of 2017, the album pushed UK music sales up by 11.2% compared to previous year, and it was the best-selling entertainment product of year, ahead of film releases such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.[40] By July 2017, the album had sold over 2 million units in the UK—1.22 million of these from physical sales and 371,000 copies from downloads, with streaming contributing 415,000 equivalent units.[41] It has since topped the UK Albums Chart for a total of 20 non-consecutive weeks, the longest amount of time since Adele's 21 held the summit in 2011 and 2012.[42][43] ÷ was the nation's highest selling album of the year with over 2,128,000 copies sold by the end of 2017.[44]

Ed Sheeran performing during his ÷ (pronounced: Divide) tour.

The large number of tracks from the album on the UK Singles Chart led to calls to reconsider how the charts are compiled.[3] In response to the controversy and to help new artists on the chart, the Official Charts Company introduced rules limiting the number of tracks by a lead artist eligible for entry in the top 100 to three, to be introduced for charts published starting 7 July 2017. It also adjusted the streams-to-sales ratio for older tracks that had declined for three consecutive weeks or any record that had charted for ten weeks to accelerate removal of existing songs.[4][45]

÷ debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with 451,000 album-equivalent units, of which 322,000 were pure album sales.[46] The tracks collectively achieved 134.6 million streams in the United States in the album's first week of availability.[46] Ten songs from the album also debuted on the Hot 100 the same week, joining the three songs already on the chart, including "Shape of You" in its seventh week at number one.[47] In its second week, it stayed on top of Billboard 200 with 180,000 units (87,000 copies sold),[48] which qualified it for a Gold certification from the RIAA on 22 March 2017.[49] By July 2017, tracks from the album had accumulated over one billion audio streams in the US.[50] ÷ earned 2,764,000 album-equivalent units in the US throughout 2017, finishing as the year's most consumed album in the country, and was its second highest-selling album with 1,102,000 copies after Taylor Swift's Reputation.[51]

Worldwide, on the day of its release, the tracks of the album achieved a total of 56.73 million streams on Spotify in a single day, breaking the previous record of 29 million for Starboy by The Weeknd in November 2016. In total, all tracks by Sheeran were streamed 68.7 million times that day, with the single "Shape of You" receiving 10.12 million streams, both also breaking previous records on Spotify.[52] Both records were broken by Drake's More Life 16 days later.[53] By its second day of release, the videos of songs from the album had achieved a cumulative one billion views on YouTube, including figures from "Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill" released earlier.[54]

In Ireland, ÷ opened at number one, with all three of Sheeran's albums in the top five. Furthermore, the entire top 16 of the Irish Singles Chart consisted only of songs from the album.[55] In Australia, the album opened at number one with a double Platinum certification in its first week, selling 97,014 copies.[56] Sheeran also achieved a record with 18 songs in the Australian top 40 in the same week—16 from the album and two from Sheeran's other albums, which were also in the top five of the albums chart.[57] It has since held the nation's summit a total of 25 non-consecutive weeks, the ninth longest total time spent there.[58][59] ÷ was Australia's highest selling album of 2017 with more than 420,000 copies sold throughout the year.[60] He also topped the charts in the Belgian region of Flanders, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden.[61] In all, it opened at number one in over 14 countries, including 10 European nations.[62]

It started at number two in France, selling 40,900 copies.[63] After five months of availability, it was certified three-times platinum there, amounting to 300,000 units (sales and streaming).[64] As of December 2017, it exceeds 334,000 sales in France.[65] By the end of 2017, 387,000 units (physical and downloads) had been sold in France according to Pure Charts. It was ranked second on the year-end album sales chart.[66] It received a diamond certification disc nine months after it was released, due to selling 566,492 units (with streaming).[67][68] It was ranked first on the year-end album chart (including streaming).[69] As of April 2018, it has sold 600,000 units (including streaming) in France.[70]

As of March 2018, the album has stayed at the top of the Danish Albums Chart for 36 non-consecutive weeks, becoming the album with most weeks at number one in Denmark (since IFPI Denmark and Nielsen started tracking sales in 1993).[71]

÷ was the best selling album globally of 2017, with 6.1 million copies shipped worldwide according to the IFPI.[72]

Track listing[edit]

Standard edition[73]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Eraser"
  • McDaid
  • Sheeran[a]
3:47
2."Castle on the Hill"4:21
3."Dive"
Blanco3:58
4."Shape of You"
3:53
5."Perfect"Sheeran
  • Will Hicks
  • Sheeran
  • Blanco[b]
4:23
6."Galway Girl"Mike Elizondo2:50
7."Happier"
Blanco3:27
8."New Man"Blanco3:09
9."Hearts Don't Break Around Here"
  • Sheeran
  • McDaid
Sheeran4:08
10."What Do I Know?"
  • Sheeran
  • Vance
  • McDaid
  • McDaid
  • Sheeran
3:57
11."How Would You Feel (Paean)"SheeranSheeran4:40
12."Supermarket Flowers"
  • Sheeran
  • Levin
  • McDaid
  • Blanco
  • McDaid
  • Sheeran[a]
3:41
Total length:46:14
Deluxe edition[75]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
13."Barcelona"
  • Sheeran
  • Wadge
  • Vance
  • McDaid
  • Levin
  • Blanco
  • Sheeran
3:11
14."Bibia Be Ye Ye"
  • Blanco
  • Sheeran
  • Killbeatz[c]
2:56
15."Nancy Mulligan"
  • Sheeran
  • Wadge
  • McDaid
  • Vance
  • Murray Cummings
  • Levin
  • Blanco
  • Sheeran
2:59
16."Save Myself"
4:07
Total length:59:27

Notes

  • ^[a] signifies a co-producer
  • ^[b] signifies an additional producer
  • ^[c] signifies original production
  • "Dive" features a guitar solo by Eric Clapton (credited as Angelo Mysterioso)[76]
  • "Dive", "Happier", and "New Man" feature background vocals by Jessie Ware
  • "Dive" features background vocals by Julia Michaels
  • "Shape of You" interpolates "No Scrubs" by TLC
  • "New Man" features additional vocals by Francis Farewell Starlite
  • "How Would You Feel (Paean)" features a guitar solo by John Mayer
  • "Save Myself" features a string arrangement by Ed's brother Matthew Sheeran[77]

Personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from AllMusic.[78]

  • Leo Abrahams – guitar
  • Laurie Anderson – viola
  • Graham Archer – engineer
  • Brent Arrowood – assistant engineer
  • Charlotte Audery – art direction, design
  • Thomas Bartlett – keyboards, piano
  • Fenella Barton – violin
  • Benny Blanco – additional production, executive producer, keyboards, producer, programming, background vocals
  • Leon Bosch – double bass
  • Liam Bradley – piano, background vocals
  • Karl Brazil – drums
  • Archie Carter – assistant engineer
  • Nick Cartledge – flute, piccolo
  • Meghan Cassidy – viola
  • Travis Cole – background vocals
  • Ben Cook – A&R
  • Nick Cooper – cello
  • Johnny Costello – art direction, design
  • Damian McKeeaccordion, background vocals
  • Mandhira De Saram – violin
  • Matthew Denton – violin
  • James Dickenson – violin
  • Dj Final – scratching
  • Alison Dods – violin
  • Eamon Murraybodhrán, background vocals
  • Mike Elizondo – drum programming, keyboards, piano, producer, synthesizer bass
  • Brian Finnegan – tin whistle
  • Michael Freeman – assistant mixer
  • Duncan Fuller – assistant, assistant engineer
  • Geo Gabriel – background vocals
  • Oscar Golding – bass
  • Sean Grahamaccordion, background vocals
  • Laurence Love Greed – piano
  • Charys Green – clarinet
  • Peter Gregson – cello, conductor
  • Stuart Hawkes – mastering
  • Adam Hawkins – engineer
  • Wayne Hernandez – background vocals
  • Will Hicks – electric guitar, percussion, producer, programming
  • Ed Howard – A&R
  • Martyn Jackson – violin
  • Katherine Jenkinson – cello
  • Magnus Johnston – violin
  • Marije Johnston – violin
  • Matt Jones – assistant
  • Simon Hewitt Jones – violin
  • Patrick Kiernan – violin
  • Trevor Lawrence Jr. – drums
  • Chris Laws – drums, engineer
  • Jay Lewis – drums
  • Tim Lowe – cello
  • Steve Mac – keyboards, producer
  • Ammar Malik – background vocals
  • Kirsty Mangan – violin
  • John Mayer – electric guitar solo on "How Would You Feel"
  • Johnny McDaid – guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano, producer, programming, background vocals
  • Jeremy Morris – violin
  • L'Angelo Mysterioso – guitar
  • Niamh Dunnefiddle, background vocals
  • George Oulton – assistant
  • Pino Palladino – bass
  • Phillip Peterson – strings
  • Dann Pursey – engineer
  • Jan Regulski – violin
  • Rachel Roberts – viola
  • David Rowan – cover art, photography
  • Mikey Rowe – keyboards
  • Joe Rubel – drum programming, engineer, guitar, electric guitar, synthesizer
  • Ben Russell – double bass
  • Kotono Sato – viola
  • Chris Sclafani – engineer
  • Robert Sellens – assistant engineer
  • Ed Sheeran – bass, body percussion, cello, cover painting, drums, executive producer, acoustic and electric guitar, mandolin, percussion, producer, vocals, background vocals
  • Matthew Sheeran – string arrangements
  • Hilary Skewes – coordination
  • Francis Farewell Starlite – background vocals
  • Mark "Spike" Stent – mixing
  • Geoff Swan – assistant mixer
  • Leo Taylor – drums
  • Ryan Tedder – piano
  • John Tilley – Hammond organ, piano
  • Jessie Ware – background vocals
  • Andy Wells – assistant
  • Deborah Widdup – violin

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[127] Diamond 500,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[128] 2× Platinum 30,000*
Belgium (BEA)[129] 3× Platinum 90,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[130] 7× Platinum 560,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[131] 6× Platinum 120,000^
France (SNEP)[132] Diamond 500,000*
Germany (BVMI)[133] Diamond 750,000^
Hungary (MAHASZ)[134] 3× Platinum 18,000^
Italy (FIMI)[135] 5× Platinum 250,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[136] Gold 100,000^
Mexico (AMPROFON)[137] Gold 30,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[138] 4× Platinum 200,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[139] 11× Platinum 165,000^
Poland (ZPAV)[140] Diamond 100,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[141] Platinum 40,000^
Sweden (GLF)[142] 2× Platinum 80,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[143] 2× Platinum 40,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[144] 10× Platinum 3,004,684[145]
United States (RIAA)[49] 4× Platinum 4,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b Camp, Zoe (8 March 2017). "Ed Sheeran – ÷ (The singer-songwriter doubles down on quirky pop without pushing forward)". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 8 March 2017. 
  3. ^ a b Halliday, Josh (13 March 2017). "Ed Sheeran singles chart takeover spurs calls for 'drastic rethink'". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 March 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Sutherland, Mark (27 June 2017). "Official Charts Company introduces singles chart revamp". Music Week. Retrieved 30 June 2017. 
  5. ^ Kreps, Daniel (28 November 2017). "Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, Bruno Mars Lead 2018 Grammy Nominees". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 January 2018. 
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  8. ^ @edsheeran (13 December 2016). "Ed Sheeran on Twitter: t.co/Lt6iFgToC2" (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
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  13. ^ @edsheeran (3 January 2017). "When I was six years old I broke my leg..." (Tweet) – via Twitter. 
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  16. ^ Trust, Gary (21 August 2017). "'Despacito' on Hot 100: Second Song Ever to Lead for at Least 15 Weeks". Billboard. Retrieved 21 August 2017. 
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  19. ^ Sheeran, Ed. "How Would You Feel (Paean) comes out tomorrow at midnight wherever you are in the world, it's not the next single, but is one of my favzzzzz". Twitter.com. Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
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  53. ^ Dandridge-Lemco, Ben (20 March 2017). "Drake Broke Two Major Spotify Streaming Records with the Release of More Life". The Fader. Retrieved 21 March 2017. 
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