Ed Sheeran penned this dancey song with Snow Patrol's Johnny McDaid and pop producer Steve Mac. He sings about falling in love with a girl that he meets at a bar.
I'm in love with the shape of you
We push and pull like a magnet do
Although my heart is falling too
I'm in love with your body
Magnets attract and they have frequently been used in by a songwriter to illustrate something (usually a person or a groove) that is so desirable, it pulls them toward that person or thing. In this instance the metaphor is used to describe Sheeran and his attraction for the girl he met at the bar.
The song was originally written at a writing camp with Rihanna in mind, but when Sheeran and the other songwriters included a reference to Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison ("put van the man on the jukebox"), they decided not to send the song to the Caribbean star. Sheeran recalled on BBC Radio 1's Breakfast Show: "I started writing lyrics like 'putting Van the Man on the juke box' and thought 'she's not really going to sing that.' We decided halfway through that this would work for me."
Sheeran later revealed that Little Mix were in the running to record the tune too. Speaking with BeBox, Sheeran said. "Do you know what, the actual story is, we started it for Little Mix originally, and then halfway through I was like, 'Actually this sounds like it could be good for Rihanna.'
And then more of the way through we were like, 'Yeah, this is actually pretty good. We should keep it.'"
The song broke a Spotify record for streams in a single day when it was played 6,868,642 times globally in its first 24 hours. It broke the milestone previously set by One Direction's "Drag Me Down
," which notched up 4,759,698 streams in August 2015. "Castle on the Hill
," which was released the same day, also shattered 1D's record, accumulating 6,168,395 streams.
Ed Sheeran broke his own record when Divide
was released on March 3, 2017. The song was streamed 10.12m times on Spotify in the 24 hours after the album was made available on the platform.
So why did Sheeran choose to release this track and "Castle On The Hill simultaneously?
"I think it was quite hard to kind of pinpoint what song to go with to represent the album, so I thought I'd pick two that were kind of opposing ends of the album and release them at the same time," the singer told Carson Daly on 97.1 AMP Radio.
"And also, since I've been away, the way that albums are being released are now you have to just kind of make up your own rules. There's no rulebook to follow, so you just have to do things that people aren't doing, and I thought making two double A-side singles with two videos that go to radio at the same time, it's a talking point. And even if only one of the songs works, it still got people to talk about them."
This song is driven by a mallet-like pluck generated on Sheeran's keyboard. It's the only instrumentation at the beginning of the track, and it continues until the bridge ("Come on, be my baby, come on..."). It returns for the next section and continues through the end of the track. Other hits of the era that use a similar mallet sound include "Don't Wanna Know
" by Maroon 5 and "Work from Home
" by Fifth Harmony.
Ed Sheeran set a new UK chart record when this song and "Castle on the Hill" debuted at #1 and #2 on the UK singles chart. No other artist had entered at the top two positions on the UK singles chart with new tracks.
The song came together very quickly. It was one of four tunes that were written in a single day.
The song debuted at #1 on the Hot 100, while "Castle on the Hill" entered the listing at #6. This was a historic achievement as it was the first ever time an act had debuted with two titles in the top 10 in the same week.
This was Ed Sheeran's first US Hot 100 #1 as a performer , though he had previously topped the tally as a writer, having co-penned Justin Bieber's "Love Yourself
The video stars Ed Sheeran as an aspiring boxer who strikes up a romance with a fellow pugilist played by Fresh Pair actress Jennie Pegouskie. The clip was filmed in Seattle and directed by Macklemore's frequent visual collaborator Jason Koenig.
Sheeran performed this at the Grammy Awards in 2017 using his trusty Chewie II loop board, which allowed him to do it solo by looping beats and vocals. He used the same setup to play the song on tour.
Ed Sheeran performed this song and "Castle on the Hill" during his second appearance on Saturday Night Live
on February 11, 2017. Sheeran first took the Studio 8H stage in April 2014, when he sang his x
" and "Sing
Ed Sheeran dropped two remixes of the song on February 24, 2017, one featuring London MC Stormzy and the other boasting Major Lazer with vocal contributions from Nyla and Kranium.
Sheeran debuted the Stormzy remix live on stage at The O2 during the BRIT Awards on February 22nd, inviting the Croydon MC on stage to perform the new collaboration.
Sheeran admitted to Spotify that he didn't originally feel this tune. "'Shape Of You' was actually the only song that I was like this isn't me at all," he said. "It took Johnny and Steve (the guys I wrote it with) probably about a month or two to convince me that should even be on the album, and probably took them another month to convince me that it should be a single."
And last night you were in my room
And now my bedsheets smell like you
Sheeran said: "Originally, instead of 'my bedsheets' it was meant to be 'my T-shirt smells of you' or something like that, but I changed it to bedsheets so it could be androgynous."
Ed Sheeran discussed taking his top off for the video during an interview with US Weekly. "My lifestyle changed. I realized I needed to start exercising, not necessarily to be slim but have a healthy heart. By exercising and not having such a wild lifestyle, you end up being a healthy human being," he said.
"Having my shirt off in the video wasn't my idea though. It was the director's and it kind of happened very last minute. I wasn't really comfortable with it but he lit it in such a way that it ended up looking quite cool."
Songwriters Kevin Briggs, Kandi Burruss and Tameka "Tiny" Cottle were added to the credits due to certain similarities between this song and the hit single they penned for TLC, "No Scrubs
." The similarity is in the vocal melody:Girl, you know I want your love
Your love was handmade for somebody like me
No, I don't want no scrubs
A scrub is a guy that can't get no love from me
Sheeran and his team most likely acted to prevent another copyright infringement lawsuit, following ones the Suffolk-born songwriter faced with "Thinking Out Loud
" and "Photograph
When Ed Sheeran reached out to Steve Mac asking if they could write "some cool stuff together," the prolific hitmaker knew he could find a gap in his diary for the English star. When Sheeran turned up their appointment, he brought Johnny McDaid along with him. Mac recalled the story of their songwriting session to Music Business Worldwide
"Ed played me what he thought was the first single from [Divide], which sounded amazing. So we started writing and within the first two hours, Shape Of You came along. At the end of the session, Ed said: 'Can I hear that first one again?' And then: 'Do you think the Rihanna record's closed?'"
"In our minds we weren't writing for Ed at this stage, which is probably why it sounds like it does. We parked it and wrote two more songs that day."
"At the end of the session, Ed said: 'Can I hear that first one again?' And then: 'Do you think the Rihanna record's closed? We should pitch it!'"
That night Sheeran went to see Atlantic UK label executives Ben Cook and Ben Howard. He played them what he thought was the finished album. Mac recalled:
"Then he played them Shape – which was called at the time 'In Love With Your Body' – and as I understand it, Ben Cook got very excited and said: 'This should be the single!' Ed, myself and Johnny never even thought it was an Ed Sheeran record – we just thought it was a good little pop song. Ben and Ed Howard heard something different; that's why they're good at their jobs."
This spent 13 consecutive weeks at the top of the UK singles chart. The previous #1, Clean Bandit's "Rockabye
," was at the summit for nine weeks. Steve Mac co-wrote both songs, meaning that compositions by the British tunesmith held the UK #1 single slot for 22 weeks in a row. Or to put it another way… five-and-a-half months.
The song topped Australia's singles chart for 15 consecutive weeks, beating a record previously set by Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise
," which stood atop the ARIA listing for 13 weeks in 1995.
When "Shape" spent its 33rd straight week above #11 in the Hot 100 dated September 11, 2017, it broke the record for the longest run in the chart's top 10. The song overtook the 32 weeks spent by the Chainsmokers' "Closer
The record was equaled by Maroon 5's "Girls Like You
," which logged its 33rd week in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 on the chart dated February 16, 2019.
In September 2017, "Shape Of You" surpassed the total play count of Drake's "One Dance
" to become the most-streamed song of all time on Spotify.
At the Grammy Awards in 2018, Sheeran took Best Pop Solo Performance for this song. He was the only man nominated in the category, beating out entries from Kelly Clarkson, Kesha, Lady Gaga and Pink. He also won Best Pop Vocal Album for ÷.