As one of the greatest lyricists of our generation, it’s fair to say that Ed Sheeran has a firm grasp of the English language. His X album tour saw him perform 179 times across 5 continents, but can Ed Sheeran converse with his non-English speaking fans?
Sadly, Ed Sheeran is monolingual. In 2013, Sheeran replied to a fan asking if he speaks Spanish with “sadly not, I failed German and French at school as well”. Despite this, Ed has released non-English adaptations of his hit songs, most notably an Italian version of ‘Perfect’ in collaboration with Andrea Bocelli.
Does Ed have other non-English songs planned for the future? How did Ed’s collaboration with Andrea Bocelli come about? Keep reading to find out.
In September 2017, Ed released the fourth single off his third studio album, X. Titled ‘Perfect’, the song is a romantic ballad about Ed’s relationship with his then-girlfriend, now-wife, Cherry Seaborn. Speaking to Zane Lowe about the inspiration behind the song, Sheeran said:
“I wanted to beat Thinking Out Loud, ’cause I know that song was going to define me”.
The original version of the song was a huge success. It is certified Diamond in the U.S and reached number one in 17 different countries. The music video has since garnered over 2 billion views on YouTube.
But Ed was determined to make Perfect the best love song of his entire career. So he decided to pull out all the stops.
On December 1st, 2017 Sheeran released a second version of Perfect in collaboration with Beyoncé. Two weeks later, he released a third remix with Italian singer, Andrea Bocelli under the title ‘Perfect Symphony’.
Beyoncé and Andrea are undoubtedly worlds apart, so what sparked Ed to involve the Italian tenor? In a behind the scenes video, Ed revealed:
“When I wrote this song I wrote this song on an acoustic guitar and then my brother did an orchestral arrangement for it that we recorded at Abbey Road. As soon as I heard it I thought ‘this needs someone like Andrea Bocelli to sing on it’”.
So that’s exactly what he did! To record the song, Ed flew out to Andrea’s home in Tuscany, Italy. Andrea’s children are huge fans of Ed, so they encouraged him to take up the offer of a collaboration. The pair enjoyed a seafood dinner on the coast before recording the song in Bocelli’s home studio.
In order to hone in on Perfect’s romantic theme, parts of the song were translated from English to Andrea’s native tongue of Italian. Speaking of this decision, Ed said:
“We translated it into Italian which was pretty cool. […] I love singing in Italian I think the Italian language is much more beautiful than the English language and I just I like the sound of it. I would love to play this live somewhere yeah”.
It’s a known fact that Sheeran is monolingual, but his Italian is surprisingly convincing. During the video, Ed is captured reading the translated lyrics off a written script, so there’s no doubt that his Italian took a lot of practice.
Interestingly, Perfect Symphony is not the only time that Ed has written a song in another language. In November 2017, Ed released ‘Boa Me’ in collaboration with hip hop artists Fuse ODG and Mugeez.
Parts of the song are written in Fuse’s native language of Twi, which is a Ghanaian dialect spoken by around 9 million people. While chatting to Radio 1 about the track, Ed said:
“I wrote a song in Twi, which is the Ghanaian dialect, and I wrote that in Ghana, at Fuse’s house with all his mates. That was probably the most fun experience”.
The phrase ‘boa me’ translates into English as ‘help me’. The concept of the song is about helping your neighbors, so all of the profits went to Fuse’s local community to help build a secondary school.