Ed Sheeran processes love and loss, and crushes it into a pop pill for “Eyes Closed,” the first single from his forthcoming album – (pronounced Subtract).
Arriving at the stroke of midnight, “Eyes Closed” has percolated over several years. Sheeran originally imagined it as a break-up song, before “Eyes Closed” evolved when Sheeran “suffered heartbreaking loss,” which led him to revisit the track, according to a statement accompanying the new single and music video.
Directed by Mia Barnes, the music video traces Sheeran as he’s followed by a blue monster, an allegory for grief — always there, constantly lurking.
“This song is about losing someone, feeling like every time you go out and you expect to just bump into them, and everything just reminds you of them and the things you did together,” Sheeran explains.
“You sorta have to take yourself out of reality sometimes to numb the pain of loss, but certain things just bring you right back into it.”
When considering concepts for the music video, the 1950 classic Harvey, where the main character has an imaginary giant rabbit as a friend, sprung to mind.
“There’s also a book I read my daughters where sadness is encapsulated by an imaginary creature,” he continues. “Often sadness is something that follows you around, engulfing the rooms you’re in, and you can feel and see it, but no one else around you can. So I decided to create my own big blue monster for the video. He gets bigger and bigger as the video goes on, til he takes up whole rooms, and is all I can see, just like sadness.”
Despite those struggles, the superstar British singer is rolling in a purple patch.
He’s just completed a lap of Australia, where he smashed the national record for most tickets sold for a concert, with more than 100,000 one night at the Melbourne Cricket Group. He broke the record again the following night.
That national trek, and the others that came before it, was produced by Frontier Touring, the Melbourne-based concerts giant, part of the Mushroom Group, founded by Sheeran’s bestie Michael Gudinski.
The Australian entrepreneur died in 2021, leaving Sheeran and many others wounded. Sheeran made the long haul for the Victorian capital to perform at the state memorial for Gudinski, where he debuted a song in his honor, “Visiting Hours,” which appeared on Sheeran’s most recent album, 2021’s = (equals).
This week, Sheeran appeared in a special promo video for Mushroom Group’s 50th anniversary celebrations, which will roll out this year, led by the company’s CEO Matt Gudinski.
Sheeran’s forthcoming album will drop May 5 via Asylum and Atlantic Records. It’s said to be a “soul-bearing” collection, written “against a backdrop of grief and hope,” during which time he processed Gudinski’s death, his wife Cherry Seaborn‘s tumor diagnosis and the loss of his close pal Jamal Edwards.
The Englishman wrote the 14-track record with Aaron Dessner of The National in February 2022.
He’s a perfect five No. 1s on the U.K. and Australian album charts.