There was no pressure. It was just another day in the recording studio.
That was the key to writing Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You,” which has been on the Hot 100 since it was released on Jan. 6, and topped Billboard’s year-end singles chart.
It’s a tale of romance sketched in mundane details — “now my bedsheets smell of you” — with four chords delivered in plinking, dancehall-tinged syncopation. The song has drawn more than 2.8 billion views on YouTube and is also the most-played track ever on Spotify, with more than 1.5 billion streams.
Like many current pop hits, “Shape of You” was written in a brainstorming session where ideas are developed or discarded fast, with computers and instruments close at hand and recorders running. “The best songs that I’ve ever written, I don’t really remember writing,” Mr. Sheeran said. “They take like 20 minutes and then they’re just done. And then you move on to the next thing.”
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