As fans guessed, those mysterious snippets Ed posted to his social media accounts were, in fact, previews of new music. Early Friday morning (January 6), he dropped "Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill," two new singles that strike very different moods.
The first song, "Shape of You," sounds like it could be a Rihanna track, mostly because Ed originally wrote it with Rihanna in mind. In an interview with BBC Radio One, Ed describes penning the lyrics and realizing that he was actually much better suited to singing a song about dancing to Van Morrison in a dive bar, so he kept it for himself.
"Castle on the Hill," meanwhile, takes a poignant look back at Ed's childhood friends, though it packs a lot more punch than the melancholy singles that launched him to stardom. He tries on a little rock star gruffness over an instrumental borrowed from U2's playbook.
This isn't the Ed Sheeran we remember, but 2017 Ed has already made a strong entry into his next album, which is probably called ÷ (or Divide) and will almost definitely be out this year.