It’s no secret that Ed Sheeran wrote his latest album while travelling the world and soaking up different cultures and styles of music. But he went further than that. He also isn’t afraid to delve into the world of languages either. What’s most impressive is his commitment to getting the foreign lyrics and their pronunciation spot on, and he has previously said he would only sing in other languages if he could do it properly.
However, it’s not just on his latest album that he tries his hand at other languages, but in songs recorded before and after too. Take a look below!
Twi – “Boa Me” & “Bibia Be Ye Ye”
Last year Ed teamed up with Highlife and Afrobeats artist Fuse ODG to create a new track called “Boa Me”, where Sheeran sings the entire chorus in flawless Twi – a dialect from Ghana. The song was actually written at Fuse ODG’s house in Ghana with his friends, and Ed has described it as “probably the most fun I’ve had writing a song”. The song peaked at #52 in the UK charts. While it didn’t reach the top 40, this upbeat track is definitely worth a listen!
This actually isn’t even the first time that the Twi language has featured on an Ed Sheeran track! The song/lyrics “Bibia be ye ye” from the Deluxe version of his latest album ÷ (Divide), is also Twi, and means “all will be well”. Fuse ODG was also involved in the writing of this song which peaked at #18 on the UK chart.
Spanish – “Barcelona”
“Barcelona” is another song which appears on the Deluxe version of ÷ (Divide), and this time Ed takes on Spanish at the end of the song which includes the following lyrics:
Mi niña, te amo mi cariño
Sí tú, te adoro, señorita
Los otros, viva la vida
Siempre vida, Barcelona
In case you’re wondering, “Mamacita” roughly translates as “hot mama”!
This is another feel-good song which tries to incorporate the atmosphere in this amazing city. It charted at #12 in the UK charts.
Italian – Perfect Symphony
Spanish isn’t the only language from mainland Europe that Ed sings in! After the incredible success of “Perfect” (initially debuting at #4, before climbing to #3), and then “Perfect Duet” with Beyoncé which propelled the song to #1 in the charts, Sheeran collaborated with Italian legend Andrea Bocelli to create a more operatic version, known as “Perfect Symphony”. Bocelli translated part of the song into Italian but it’s not just him who sings the Italian, with Ed also joining in. Incidentally this is also the first song in which Ed collaborated with his brother Matthew, himself a classical composer, and whose string section appears on both this and the original version.
Gaelic – Thinking Out Loud
Ed is clearly in touch with his Irish roots, spending plenty of time across the Irish sea with his family, having some tattoos in Gaelic, and also musically with two Irish-influenced songs “Galway Girl” and “Nancy Mulligan” appearing on ÷. But he went even further back in 2015 by recording a Gaelic translation of one of his biggest hits “Thinking Out Loud”. It was recorded especially to be included on the album CEOL 2016, which was that year’s album from Conradh na Gaeilge (an organisation promoting the Irish language) and their Irish-language radio station Raidió Rí Rá, produced for “Irish week” (Seachtain na Gaeilge), featuring Gaelic tracks from the best Ireland has to offer.
The whole song is translated into, and sung in Gaelic, which I think we’ll all agree is pretty impressive! I’ll leave it up to native Gaelic speakers to let us know how good his pronunciation is, but I’m sure, as with the other songs, he wouldn’t have released it if he wasn’t able to get it right, as is his great professionalism and his respect for other languages and cultures.
Keep up the great work Ed!