“Tell the Driver, Make the Radio Play”

by John Downey '23 on April 22, 2022
A&E Co-Editor

Arts & Entertainment

“Tell the Driver, Make the Radio Play”

Ed Sheeran Wins “Shape of You” Lawsuit

By Claudia Fennell ’24

In 2017, the now 31-year-old artist Ed Sheeran released one of his most famous songs to date: “Shape of You.” The track, a single off of his album Divide, was an instant hit on the charts. Indeed, “Shape of You” was the overall best-selling song in 2017 as well as the second-best selling song digitally worldwide that year. Additionally, the song was number one in the United States for 12 non-consecutive weeks, the fourth-most weeks a song has stayed on top of the charts in history. 

Now, five years later, the remarkable song is making headlines for a more negative reason: musical artist Sam Chokri and his producer Ross O’Donoghue recently brought Sheeran to court, claiming the chorus of “Shape of You” is stolen from their song, “Oh Why.”

  Chokri, who is more commonly known as Sami Switch, his stage name, is a popular Grime artist. Grime is a music genre that developed in London in the early 2000s that combines British rap and electronic music to create a style similar to hip hop. In 2015, two years before Sheeran’s “Shape of You” hit the airwaves, the artist released “Oh Why.” The chorus of the song repeats the phrase, “Oh why, oh why,” and the chorus of “Shape of You” repeats the phrase, “Oh I, Oh I” with a somewhat similar pronunciation. This commonality led Chokri to allege that Sheeran stole the phrase and file a suit against the famous singer-songwriter. Sheeran and his associates immediately denied the claims Chokri and his team put forth against them. 

  Chokri originally made these allegations of plagiarism against Sheeran in 2018, but the copyright lawsuit did not commence until last month on March 4. The trial took place at London’s high court and lasted eleven days. It consisted of testimony from both sides as well as outside testimony from professional forensic musicologists who analyzed “Oh Why” and “Shape of You” for similarities. Although the forensic musicologists at times disagreed on some small details, they agreed that the purported similarities between the two songs were “overstated.”

After taking all of the testimony and evidence presented into account, Justice Antony Zacaroli declared that Sheeran “neither deliberately nor subconsciously” copied Chokri’s 2015 song.

  While Sheeran and his team were certainly pleased with the verdict in the trial, the artist soon took to Twitter to share his concerns about the implications of the case. In a video, he explained that while he felt vindicated post-trial, he remained concerned for the future of the songwriting industry. Sheeran emphasized that in his mind, today’s artists are far too eager to sue one another. He went on to elaborate that he sees a pattern of artists hoping to save or even make money by reaching a settlement rather than fighting against a perceived injustice by going to trial. Sheeran expressed, “I feel like claims like this are way too common now and [there has] become a culture where a claim is made with the idea that a settlement will be cheaper than taking it to court, even if there is no basis for the claim.”

Although Sheeran will likely not be the last musician to face allegations of plagiarism, the artist’s dedication to using his platform to speak out against such allegations and their bearings on the music industry suggest that the artists of the future will be well-supported should they find themselves facing such allegations.

Album Review: Ed Sheeran’s “=”

by The Cowl Editor on November 18, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Album Review: Ed Sheeran’s “=” 

The British Superstar is Back and “Ed”-er Than Ever

Grace Whitman ’22

Ed Sheeran’s album “=” was released on Oct. 29 and showcases a new chapter in the British singer’s life. Sheeran has always been a poetic storyteller, and this album clearly shows how he has matured as a person. 

Amid COVID-19, his wife Cherry Seaborn gave birth to their daughter Lyra and the new father stepped away from music and the spotlight for over a year. He also went dark on social media. While the emotional growth he experienced during this time is certainly evident on “=,” his musical growth is not as clear. Indeed, the record’s tracks consistently have a predictable sound.

“=” is Sheeran’s fourth album with a mathematical symbol as a title, following “+,” “x,” and “÷”. With themes of marriage and parenthood consistent throughout, one may interpret the title “=” to be a nod to how Sheeran feels content and at peace with the place he is at in his life. 

The album starts with a reflective song, “Tides,” on which Sheeran shares how his perspective on life has changed. He sings, “I have grown up, I am a father now/Everything has changed but I am still the same somehow.” With the use of tides as a metaphor for the changes that have occurred in his life, this song sets the tone for the rest of the album and would be the perfect song to open up a stadium concert. 

The singles from the album are “Bad Habits,” “Shivers,” and “Visiting Hours.” “Bad Habits” is one of the most popular songs on the radio right now, but its sound is extremely predictable and seems to have been meticulously crafted to be a radio song. Notably, with regard to both the lyrical content and sound of the song, “Shivers” is very similar to “Bad Habits,” evidencing Sheeran’s lack of musical growth on “=.”

Nonetheless, Sheeran is still arguably one of the greatest songwriters of the generation. Some of his most beloved songs are emotional ballads that are not released solely for radio streams. For instance, “Visiting Hours,” a tearjerker like “Supermarket Flowers” from his album “÷,” was written as a way to grieve after the death of his close musical mentor Michael Gudinski. The built harmony within the song reveals the magnitude of pain Sheeran experienced in the aftermath of Gudinski’s death and the lyrics express his desperate wish for heaven to have visiting hours. 

Other notable tracks off the album include “Overpass Graffiti,” a song about an old love that, like graffiti, will never fade, and “2step,” a hip-hop track similar to several songs from his No.6 Collaboration Project that includes several rap verses. 

Overall, throughout “=,” Sheeran reflects on becoming a husband and a father and experiencing loss. As made apparent through both his lyrics and the emotion conveyed through his voice, this album is an altogether cohesive project that gives fans a deeper glimpse into Sheeran’s life.

A Preview of Ed Sheeran’s Anticipated New Album

by The Cowl Editor on September 3, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

A Preview of Ed Sheeran’s Anticipated New Album

The Musician Returns to the Spotlight With ‘=’

By Grace O’Connor ’22


Ed Sheeran is once again in the spotlight, this time with the anticipation surrounding the Oct. 29 release of his new album, ‘=.’ It has been four years since he released his last traditional album, ‘÷,’ so fans are excitedly awaiting the day that they can enjoy his newest release.

The Guardian describes how “Sheeran had trailed the album with an image of a chrysalis, with butterflies featuring on the album cover itself. Speaking on Instagram Live while on holiday with his family, he said the imagery represents ‘new life – I’ve been through, over the last four years, different experiences in life, including getting married, having a kid, losing a friend.”

Evidently, these major life events have given Sheeran plenty of inspiration for ‘=.’ Fans and music critics alike are expecting it to be an impactful record and a strong representation of Sheeran’s talent based on the previews the musician has offered so far.

On Aug. 25, Sheeran performed a small show at hmv Empire in Coventry, England. He introduced two love songs, “First Times” and “Overpass Graffiti.” The hit-heavy set also featured recent singles “Bad Habits” and “Visiting Hours.” A close examination of the lyrics and composition of these songs reveals that they were put together with focus and contemplation. Sheeran reflects on small, impactful moments, turning them into works of art that are both meaningful to him and relatable to fans around the world.

‘=’ features 14 new songs. Interestingly, the album’s final tracklist was significantly cut down from an original set of songs. According to The Guardian, Sheeran described the process of making final decisions about which tracks to include on the album as “painstaking.” However, of the songs that made the final cut and the album as a whole, he said, “‘They all have their place – I love it, I think it’s the best piece of work I’ve done, it’s cohesive and it feels great.” It certainly seems that this album has been carefully crafted and will truly represent Sheeran’s hard work and the growth he has experienced over the course of his career.

Indeed, the amounts of time between the release of each one of Sheeran’s albums highlight different turning points in the singer’s life, making his discography uniquely heartfelt and impactful. In a recent statement, Sheeran described ‘=’ as “a coming of age record” and stated, “I’ve never been more proud of a body of work.”

For those eager to learn more about the upcoming release, Variety offers a sneak peak. The magazine describes that “thematically, ‘=’ finds Ed taking stock of his life and the people in it, as he explores the varying degrees of love (‘The Joker And The Queen’, ‘First Times’, ‘2step’), loss (‘Visiting Hours’), resilience (‘Can’t Stop The Rain’) and fatherhood (‘Sandman’, ‘Leave Your Life’), while also processing his reality and career (‘Tides’).”

Sheeran’s career has been filled with many highs. For instance, his 2014 album ‘x’ was the 49th best-selling album ever in the UK. After releasing his third album ‘÷,’ he embarked on a world tour that would become the highest-grossing and most-attended tour of all time.

Much of Sheeran’s success has to do with his dedicated fans who not only relate to his music, but are also in awe of his unique, pure talent. Over the course of the past ten years, his career has skyrocketed and he has become a household name.

His career is being especially celebrated this year as the tenth anniversary of the release of ‘+,’ his debut album, approaches on Sept. 9. Loyal fans who have been with the musician all these years, as well as the fans he’s won during this time, are excited to see where Ed Sheeran’s career will take him, and are counting down the days until they can hear his latest masterpiece on Oct. 29.