Ed Sheeran’s “What Do I Know” was released in March of 2017. This comes only a few months after Donald Trump was elected into office in 2016. Following the election, the United States became heavily divided. The country was filled with disagreement, protest, and negativity that seemed to have stemmed from government-related issues. This also increased the amount of marches, riots, and other forms of protests regarding a large realm of social issues present in the United States. These include issues revolving around the LGBTQ community, women, racism, immigration, and more. All in all, there was a lot of distress going through the country at this time, and this song definitely seems to respond to this.


In an interview with Zane Lowe from BBC1 radio, Ed Sheeran was asked about this particular song on his new album. Sheeran states that “I’m not a hugely outwardly political person, and I don’t want to be. I’m a singer, and I know if like I had a political opinion, people would be like, ‘Shut up mate! Sing your song.’ … My whole mantra in life is always like ‘love is everything’. I love love, I love when people are happy.” This statement truly clarifies what Sheeran was trying to do with this song. Although he is not normally one to speak about politics, he felt it was necessary to say something about the situation. He is recognizing that people in the country are not happy. He is recognizing that he is a singer, not a politician. Yet, he still feels it is important to get the message across that we all need to come together, love each other, and spread positivity into the country and into the world. Sheeran also states that his plan for the upcoming tour of the new album includes this song. He said that he wanted to perform this song on the North American leg of the tour specifically, and to play it as the last song. Here, it is clear that it is important to Sheeran for the people in the United States to hear this song, and to listen to the message. He stated “I really want to close shows with that one because I feel like walking away from a gig having “love can change the world” in your head is a good thing.” This quote really sticks out to me as it encompasses his entire point of the song. Yes, although he is not a politician, he still wants to spread love and positivity into this world, and he wants others to follow. 


Although Sheeran admits that this song was a “knee-jerk reaction” to the events taking place in the country at the time, he still chooses to release it to the world, and target it in the United States. The fact that Sheeran has never publicly discussed his political views, and that he does not necessarily believe that he has a place to say anything makes this song even more important to listen to. Despite these feelings, Sheeran still felt it was important enough to announce to the world.