Songwriting Tips From Ed Sheeran: ‘It Can’t Be Vanilla’

Sandra Johnson - Author

Jan. 5 2017, Updated 1:53 a.m. ET

For some, songwriting comes quite easily. Twenty-four-year-old British pop singer Ed Sheeran falls into that category — as long as he’s in the right mood, Sheeran told CNN.

In order to write a fantastic song, Sheeran said that the songwriter has to been in an extreme mood. That mood doesn’t necessarily always have to be good or bad, Sheeran said, but it does have to fall on one of the outer edges of the spectrum.

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“If you’re in a really good mood, you can write the best song, and if you’re in a really bad mood, you can write the best song, but if you’re just vanilla, you can’t.”

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Sheeran is anything but vanilla, and few would accuse him of being boring even on his worst day. And yet, even Sheeran admits that everything he writes is not good. For example, only a handful of his songs ever make it onto his albums.

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When it comes to writing his own songs, Ed Sheeran told CNN that something has to provoke a strong feeling or emotion in order for a song to be good.

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“If I write a song there has to be a catalyst. It can’t just be like ‘I had a nice day.’ It has to be like ‘I had the best day ever’ or the worst day ever. You can’t wrote a song from a bland experience, but you can write a song from two extremes.'”

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Sheeran has plenty of experience where songwriting is concerned. He’s known to be a prolific songwriter, both for himself and for his friends. For his X album (which is pronounced “multiply”) Sheeran wrote about 26 songs, 11 of which eventually made it on to the record, according to MTV. On his own albums, Sheeran can take credit for writing “Don’t,” “Thinking Out Loud,” and “Photograph,” among others.

Sheeran also has written lyrics for Taylor Swift (think “Everything Has Changed”), Hillary Duff, and One Direction. In fact, Sheeran had a hand in writing One Direction’s “Little Things,” according to MTV.

Sheeran’s songwriting tips came up in the interview after the interviewer asked Sheeran if he’d ever written about his parents.

Sheeran’s response?

“No. There’s nothing too scandalous there to write about,” Sheeran said.

Do you think Sheeran is correct? Do you have to be in an extreme place to write a fantastic song? If you’re a songwriter, do you think Ed Sheeran’s tips are helpful?

[Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images]


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