Music

Why Ed Sheeran Decided Not to Give Rihanna 'Shape of You'

TL;DR:

  • Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” was initially intended for Rihanna.
  • Sheeran thought the song would perform horribly on the charts.
  • It became a massive hit in the United States and the United Kingdom.

Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” could have been a Rihanna song. Sheeran revealed he didn’t give her the track because it includes a reference to a classic rock star. In addition, Sheeran revealed he had very little faith in “Shape of You.”

Ed Sheeran didn’t think Rihanna would mention a certain rock star in 1 of her songs

According to Billboard, Sheeran discussed “Shape of You” during a 2017 interview with BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show. “[‘Shape of You’] is actually a really random one because I went in to write songs for other people with a guy called Steve Mac and Johnny McDaid, and we were writing this song and I was like ‘This would really work for Rihanna,’” he explained. 

“And then I started singing lyrics like ‘putting Van the Man on the jukebox’ and I was like ‘Well, she’s not really going to sing that, is she?’” For context, “Van the Man” is another name for Van Morrison, an Irish rock star. He is most known for his hit “Brown-Eyed Girl.”

Ed Sheeran’s ‘Shape of You’ wasn’t intended for his album ‘÷’

Sheeran decided to keep “Shape of You” for himself. “And then we sort of decided halfway through that we were just going to make it for me,” he recalled. “This was the last song that was finished, and I just didn’t put two and two together that this was even going to be on the album. I just kind of wrote it and was like ‘Oh, that was fun.’”

During a 2021 interview with GQ, Sheeran discussed the song again. He said he expected “Shape of You” to perform poorly on the charts. Sheeran revealed he “mellowed” since the time he had so little faith in “Shape of You.”

How ‘Shape of You’ and its parent album performed on the charts in the United States and the United Kingdom

“Shape of You” became a massive hit in the U.S. For one dozen weeks, the track topped the Billboard Hot 100. It stayed on the chart for 59 weeks in total. Sheeran released the song on his album ÷. The album reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for two of its 272 weeks on the chart.

The Official Charts Company reports “Shape of You” was similarly successful in the United Kingdom. There, the song reached No. 1 for 14 of its 98 weeks on the chart. Meanwhile, ÷ reached No. 1 for 20 of its 273 weeks on the chart.

“Shape of You” was initially meant for Rihanna — but it became one of Sheeran’s signature songs.

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