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Behind the Album: + by Ed Sheeran 📀

Written by: Katie Curran

Welcome to our brand-new series, Behind the Album! In each edition, we will be picking some of our favorite albums of all time, and going all in on the album’s history, how it came to be, and how it changed the lives of the artists that made them. For our first segment, we’re taking a deep dive into +, Ed Sheeran’s debut album! 😍

Ed Sheeran is one of the most famous names in music today and for good reason! His first album had hits such as “Lego House” and “Give Me Love,” but the single that started it all was “The A Team.” According to an interview with Q Magazine upon the song’s release, Ed stated that he’d been inspired to write the song in 2009 after playing a charity concert at a homeless shelter. After playing his set, he had a conversation with one of the women that lived there, who then inspired the woman he sings about. “The A Team” catapulted Sheeran to stardom, peaking at number 16 on the Hot 100 in 2011. 🤩

The songs on + were written at a time when Ed had finished school and moved across the United Kingdom, performing on the streets and doing open mic nights whenever possible. On a month-long trip to Los Angeles in 2009, he performed a gig where a contact of Jamie Foxx’s discovered him, and invited him to an open-mic night. After performing, he was connected with Foxx’s manager, who then asked him to perform on Foxx’s personal radio show. There, he was invited by Jamie himself to record songs free of charge. He uploaded his second song, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” to his Youtube channel where it garnered over 500,000 views. When Sheeran released the song as a single, it reached number 4 on the UK Singles chart. 🔥

Though “The A Team” is easily one of Ed’s most famous songs and “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You” is a classic, + gave us some other iconic songs as well. Tackling all different topics with several different genre influences, the album also contains songs like “Give Me Love” and “Lego House.” “Give Me Love,” the last single from the album (and the last track on the album), is a song in which the narrator is pleading with their lover to take them back, with a tone of desperation during the chorus. But that’s not all! The song actually concludes with a cover of the Irish traditional folk song “The Parting Glass.” The song reached the top 20 in the UK and remains a fan favorite. 🤍

Lego House” is a song that Ed described as a metaphor for rebuilding a relationship, describing mending it as putting a set of Legos back together. As the singer navigates the relationship with the person they’re singing to, they realize that they have grown from their mistakes. However, they still acknowledge that there is potential for the relationship to deteriorate or flourish, and are willing to accept the consequences. “Lego House” peaked at #42 on the Hot 100, and cracked the top 5 in the UK. The music video for this song is a special one, especially for Harry Potter fans — Ron Weasley himself, aka Rupert Grint, stars as an Ed Sheeran lookalike! 🥰

We all know that Ed is famous for taking the stage with nothing but his guitar, but did you know his first album was recorded the same way? Much like his earliest street and open mic performances, every song on the album is done with Ed, his acoustic guitar, and a loop pedal — even the percussion! This talent did not go unnoticed upon the album’s release, either. The album peaked at #5 on the Billboard 200, one of the highest debuts for a British artist of all time. “The A Team” scored Ed his first-ever Grammy nomination, and he was even nominated for Best New Artist the year after! The album hit the top 10 in 10 countries, hitting number 1 in 6. 🏆

It’s no secret that + is considered Ed’s breakout album. Starting out the era by playing in small clubs and on the street, the album’s success enabled him to be playing arenas and theaters by the end. It also saw him winning his first major awards and set him on the path to being one of the greatest singer-songwriters of our generation. With influences ranging from Eminem to Damien Rice and Van Morrison, + is filled with acoustic songs of all different sounds, with songs for people of all interests. If you enjoyed this edition of Behind the Album, be sure to follow our Instagram and let us know which album you want to see! 💜

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