Ed Sheeran has come a long way in the music world since the release of his No. 5 collaborations project from 2011, but in a humble Instagram post where he announced his most recent release (the No. 6 collaborations project) his fans are reminded that the roots of his work are the same: Sheeran writes “Before I was signed in 2011, I made an EP called No.5 Collaborations Project. Since then, I’ve always wanted to do another, so I started No.6 on my laptop when I was on tour last year. I’m a huge fan of all the artists I’ve collaborated with and it’s been a lot of fun to make.”
His fourth studio album features 15 tracks (as opposed to his prior 3 albums which feature 12 tracks each) and each track features a different artist spanning over various genres of music. Touching on the sound of the ‘No. 5 Collaborations’ EP, ‘Take me back to London’ features grime artist, Stormzy. Then in the following track, we hear a completely different style on ‘Best part of me’ which features Yebba. It’s safe to say that on No. 6, even if you may not have been a fan of Ed Sheeran beforehand, there will be a song to suit you on this album somewhere.
Still not convinced? Here are a few notably contrasting examples of what to expect from Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 collaborations album:
Beautiful People (feat. Khalid) – The opening track, released as an individual single on 28th June, highlights that shift from no. 5 collaborations Ed to No. 6 Collaborations Ed; the lyrics centre around the lifestyles of the rich and famous, living in LA and being surrounded by, well, ‘beautiful people’. In the track, Sheeran candidly sings ‘thats not who we are, we are not beautiful’ alluding to the simple fact that fashion shows, fast cars and social status are not his focus and he takes no shame in saying so. Though, as previously mentioned, each track on this album is very different, starting the album with this strong single sets the tone for the other 14 tracks to follow on from.
Cross Me (feat. Chance the Rapper and PnB Rock) – ‘cross me’ wouldn’t have been out of place on Sheeran’s previous album ‘Divide’ amongst songs such as ‘shape of you (featuring Stormzy)’. The track has a certain R&B sway though admittedly lacks the familiar chorus-catchiness of the albums first single ‘I don’t care’. The meaning behind the track however, highlights the unending ‘nice guy’ images of both Ed Sheeran and Chance the Rapper. Amongst the the tracks surrounding the artists’ reputation and lifestyle early in the list, it makes for another strong addition to the album as a whole.
Take me back to London (feat. Stormzy) – Due to the success of previous release ‘Shape of You’, there was a lot of buzz around the newest collaboration between Ed Sheeran and Stormzy and evidently, from the 29.7 million spotify streams it has received, it’s a fan favourite from the album. Although, the song has admittedly come under fire now that people are really listening to the lyrics: the term ‘humblebrag’ has been used to describe a lyrics from Eds first verse in the track. He sings “’Cause I haven’t been home in time, yes, I / But that’s my fault / Grossed half a billi’ on the Divide Tour / Yes, I ain’t kidding, what would I lie for?” and though an artist discussing their net worth, particularly on a rap or grime track isn’t out of the ordinary, it’s something people haven’t grown to expect from Sheeran, although billboard reported that his two year divide tour grossed over $600 million.
Best part of me (feat. YEBBA) – Every Ed Sheeran album has at least one ‘wedding song’: the + album saw acoustic love songs in abundance; thinking out loud from the multiply album was the single-most used wedding song during the year of its release and the release of Ed’s third album, Divide, saw him trying to out-do the track before with the track ‘perfect’ which he later re-released with a feature from Beyonce. The song tells the story of a couple confessing their imperfections and reiterating in every pre-chorus that despite these flaws, they are loved by their significant other, even if at times they fail to love themselves. The song has a relaxed, acoustic feel like Sheeran’s pre-existing romantic hits. YEBBA’s feature on the track is a beautiful addition and a live version of the duet performed at Abbey Road has racked up 5.7 million views on Ed Sheeran’s official youtube channel.
I don’t care (feat. Justin Bieber) – the first track released from the album was released on 10th May and at this point, the album had not been announced at all. This song however is not the first time that Sheeran and Bieber have collaborated: Ed Sheeran co-wrote Biebers ‘Love Yourself’ and ‘Cold Water’ while also both featuring on Lil Dicky’s ‘Earth’ amongst many other famous names. As the first release on the album, it is no surprise that the track has more Spotify streams than any other track from the No. 6 Collaborations album.
Ed Sheeran’s No. 6 Collaborations project is available to stream on all major music platforms. Click here to listen to each track on YouTube.