Why "Shape of You" Is Problematic

Why "Shape of You" Is Problematic

This song is super catchy. And yet, I find myself annoyed and uncomfortable every time I hear it.

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I love Ed Sheeran. I think he’s a great lyricist and musician, and he seems to be an all-around good guy. His voice is amazing, his guitar skills are great, and he doesn’t have a single “bad” song on any of his albums. His songs deserve to become popular!

That being said, it is hard for me to get behind the song “Shape of You”, despite its catchiness. Don’t get me wrong! It sounds great and it was produced really well. The lyrics are just a little problematic to me- and I do mean to me. Other opinions are allowed and encouraged. (To see the full lyrics, feel free to click on the picture below.)

Let’s start at the very beginning- a very good place to start.

“The club isn’t the best place to find a lover so the bar is where I go”

I agree, Ed! The club is super loud and crowded and it’s just not a good place to find someone to spend your life. But, every time I hear this line, all I can think about is my grandma. What? How does that make sense? Well, my grandma always told me that I shouldn’t look for a husband in bars. Sure, alcohol may loosen you up socially, but it can also cloud your judgment. In addition, bars can be places of habit for people, which may be a problem a few years down the road. I will give Ed credit for acknowledging clubs are the greater of the two evils.

Skipping down to the pre-chorus, I get slightly annoyed. Ed sings from a girl’s perspective:

"Say, boy, let’s not talk too much; Grab on my waist and put that body on me”

Clubs are bad for meeting people you want to date because it’s hard to get to know them in that sort of atmosphere. So he chooses a bar. Okay, I see your logic here. But now “the girl” is saying that they shouldn’t talk too much, and while it’s made known that they’re dancing, this definitely implies something a little more physical. To me, that’s a bit weird, especially after just meeting someone.

Ed seems to be a bit back in forth in the chorus,

“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”

Half of this section is specifically talking about the girl’s body. I’m glad you think she’s beautiful, Mr. Sheeran, but maybe get to know her a little bit more. You say that you push and pull like magnets; opposites attract, similarities repel, all that good stuff. Except, most of the time, relationships work the opposite way. Similarities attract, opposites repel. Not always, just most of the time. And while I’m glad you seem to be attracted to her emotionally, rather than just physically, it can get pretty complicated if that isn’t returned, and I’m not sure your lyrics are telling me the emotional side is returned.

Skipping even further, to verse number two.

“One week in we let the story begin; we’re going out on our first date”

Uh, maybe it’s just because I’m a little old-fashioned, but I feel like that was a little… backwards. You met a girl, had sex, and then a week later you went on your first date? I mean, you do you, Ed. It just seems like a weird way to start a relationship.

“You and me are thrifty, so go all you can eat; Fill up your bag and I fill up a plate”

Okay, Ed. Using those similarities to your advantage! Props. And hey, at least now you all can actually talk. “We talk for hours and hours about the sweet and the sour”, is actually one of my favorite lyrics in the whole song. I’m allowed to like it even if I find it problematic, right? This references the whole magnets thing again (opposites and all that), but in a better way. The similarities are usually sweet, and the differences are usually sour. Plus, the sweet and the sour means that they’re talking about everything in their lives. Not only that, but it continues the “all you can eat” line, because sweet and sour food is definitely a thing (duh).

Next Ed sings, “and how your family is doing okay”. This is great! Talking about families to each other. Getting pretty serious, huh? Except, it’s the first date. Nothing wrong with that, I just feel like this whole relationship got serious too quickly for me. Immediately following that Ed sings,

“Leave and get in a taxi, then kiss in the backseat; Tell the driver make the radio play”

All of that wonderful time spent getting to know each other is cut off and you two get handsy again. And with someone else being forced to listen to it- although, you did ask him to turn on the music. Probably more for his sake than your own.

Ed continues the song pretty much the same way. Like I said, the song is really catchy and it’s definitely popular for a reason. However, it’s just hard for me to be swept up by it when I find the lyrics to be problematic in the face of developing a relationship. But who knows, that’s probably just me.

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