After a long time of thinking, I decided to switch my song for the podcast project. Because Coldplay is my favorite band of all time, I understood your point about reaching out of my comfort zone. Although “Violet Hill” is a song that I did not typically listen to, I felt that I already knew too much about the history of the band, and their views on political and social issues. Therefore, I would not have needed to do much research about the subject, context, or artist intentions.


I spent the past two days looking and listening to protest songs released in the last ten years. A lot of the ones that came up in my searches were generally popular songs done by artists who are known to release protest songs. I made the decision that I wanted to pick a song by an artist who does not normally dive into social issues, but is still a major music icon today. That is how I found the song “What Do I Know?” by Ed Sheeran. The lyrics were the first aspect of the song that really stuck out to me. Throughout the song, Sheeran speaks about the world’s need for love and positivity. He mentions current struggles going on in the US such as the “stock market crashing,” “the revolution,” “and the balance between “love and hate.” Based off of these lyrics among other phrases in the verses, it seems that Sheeran’s song is a protest towards all of social and political disagreement that is taking over our country and the world in general. Sheeran sings about how people care more about their reputation, wealth, and power than their actual wellbeing, or the other people around them. I am excited to dive deeper into the lyrics, the music that goes with it, and Ed Sheeran as an artist. I am curious to learn more about Sheeran’s thoughts on the subject, and to possibly discover a more specific or focused point in the song.


Another aspect of the song that stuck out to me is the way Ed Sheeran sounds almost sarcastic in the song. Throughout both the verses and the chorus, Sheeran talks about how he is a simple man who grew up being taught not to get involved with politics, religion, or quarrels. He admits to his lack of college education, and pins himself as just a man who sings songs for a living. This follows with the phrase, and title of the song, “What do I know?” This part of the song really intrigued me. Although it sounds like playful sarcasm, I think there may be a deeper meaning to this. In the music industry today, and Hollywood in general, celebrities have been increasingly sharing their political views with the world. In addition, there is a large portion of the public that believe that celebrities should use their high status, reach, and wealth to promote change in the world. This is a great tie-in to this song, as it is ironic that while Ed Sheeran is practically mocking himself for not having a full education, music fans may actually be looking to him to promote the change that this song is suggesting. 


Based on these thoughts, I am really excited to research further on this song, Ed Sheeran as an artist, and current state of pop music. This is probably one of the only songs that Ed Sheeran has produced that has a protest in it. He has always been known for his love songs, and mainstream acoustic style. I have noticed in the last few years that there have been many more social protest songs being released into the pop genre, and I am wondering if Sheeran is hopping on this trend now. I am excited to dive deeper into the celebrity and Hollywood role of promoting change in the world, and discover Sheeran’s true intent with this song. Analyzing this song will be challenging for me because this is the only one of Sheeran’s songs that seems to be a protest. It will be hard to compare this song to any of his others because it speaks about topics that are much different than what he is used to. In addition, the music itself is very simple and does not provide too much insight to his feelings on the situation. With many of the protest songs that we have listened to so far, there are obvious correlations with the music, the lyrics, the way the artist sings it, and the context of the social issue. With this song, it is not as obvious. The sound of the music and his voice is consistent and simple, not leaving much room to pick apart. Because of this, I have a slight worry that there is not as much protest as I initially thought. I am concerned that there may not be as much depth to the song that I am hoping for. However, the simpleness could be intentional, as the message Sheeran is sharing is simple in itself. Because of this, the irony, sarcasm, and almost passive aggressiveness of the song could be the ultimate factor to making it a protest song.


Personally, I think this song is a great way to promote social change. I admire the simpleness and playfulness that Sheeran emits into the song. I admire the way he admits to his, for lack of better word, faults. It is clear that Sheeran is not trying to take over the world. He is not trying to be a selfish, conceded pop star. He is admitting that he is in a musical career, not a political career. For me, that is what makes this song so powerful. I think it sends a message to all other “simple” men and women that feel their voices aren’t being heard. I think it sends a message to those who feel they are not entitled to their opinion just because they are not as high on the social ladder as others. I think it gives confidence to those to share their positivity, their love, and their views on the world.