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Talented young British singer takes on mature themes.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A couple of pretty songs extol the glories of love. Sheeran also pleads for honesty in relationships.

Positive role models

In his autobiographical songs, Sheeran is clearly trying to be open and forthright, and he is acutely aware of his own deficiencies as a boyfriend. He wears his confusion on his sleeve, which is a sign of his intrinsic honesty -- and that's a good thing. 

Not applicable

A couple of songs mention obvious hookups with women, but there's nothing remotely explicit.


"The Man" has one use of "s--t." 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Several songs on the album mention Sheeran's consumption of alcohol and marijuana. One is called "I'm a Mess"; another is the hit single "Sing," which refers to alcohol generically, and tequila specifically, and "something to smoke." The song "Nina" mentions "smokin' illegal weed"; "Don't" has "a bottle of gin" in the lyrics; in "The Man" he raps about a "spliff"; and in "Bloodstream" he asks the question, "How did I get so faded?" The references are casual and pervasive enough that some parents might not want their tweens or young teens exposed to this album. 

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Ed Sheeran is a very talented, mega-successful young British singer-songwriter who's especially popular among teens and young adults, many of whom (in the U.S.) discovered him through his guest spot on Taylor Swift's Red album and subsequent tour and through a song he cowrote for the English boy band One Direction. However, many of Sheeran's own songs are not nearly as innocent as either of those two artists'. On his second album, X, several songs make reference to drinking alcohol and getting high, and there are (non-explicit) mentions of having sex. Most of the songs on X are about troubled relationships and his resulting angst, but there also are a couple of beautiful love songs. The music on the album ranges from sensitive, acoustic guitar-driven balladry to R&B-slanted neo-soul and hip-hop/rap.

What's the story?

Ed Sheeran's X (pronounced "multiply," he says) is the second album from the popular British singer-songwriter, who, at age 21, was nominated for Best New Artist and Song of the Year at the 2014 Grammy Awards. His career has been hot, hot, hot in the U.S. since 2012. He was the opening act on a hugely successful tour for Taylor Swift in 2013, and X became a smash hit as soon as it was released in June 2014, propelled by massive sales to Sheeran's predominantly young female pop audience. X has more soul/R&B flavors than Sheeran's first album, with several songs featuring him rapping. But the heart of the album is still his deft confessional balladry, delivered in a pleasing, soulful tenor that occasionally ventures into falsetto territory.

Is it any good?


Sheeran's an exceptionally talented pop, folk, and R&B singer, songwriter, and guitarist, and his second album, X, brilliantly produced by the ultra-hip Rick Rubin, has a stripped-down and intimate feel that perfectly matches Sheeran's sincere and soulful vocal delivery. Many songs deal with his own rocky relationships -- some doomed by the demands of his busy life on the road (aww...poor superstar!) -- but he isn't just pointing fingers and complaining about being wronged by this or that woman. Rather, he's frank about his own failings and raging insecurity. In fact, some of it borders on TMI. But, as he says of his songwriting in one tune, "It's only therapy."

Fans of his luscious ballads might not embrace his hip-hop/rap side as much, but it's no surprise that he can pull off that kind of music, too. "Thinking Out Loud" sounds like an homage to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," while "Tenerife Sea" is a gorgeous, flowing love ballad certain to get many young female hearts beating fast. 

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the various styles of Ed Sheeran's songs. Do you prefer his folk-based songs or his hip-hop/rap?

  • Listening to Ed Sheeran's autobiographical songs, do you think he has a happy life?

  • Can you relate to the subjects that Sheeran sings about?

Music details

Artist:Ed Sheeran
Release date:July 4, 2014
Parental advisory:No
Edited version available:No

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Teen, 14 years old Written byvillainousbarbeque July 15, 2014

Sheeran's sophomore effort is super good!

He's a very talented musician, and X gives you that message loud and clear. Ed Sheeran's album has some upbeat songs, but is mostly comprised of serious ones. Some of the best songs on the album are Thinking Out Loud, Afire Love, Photograph, and Don't. There's a lot of talk about drinking and smoking, but not much else. You can infer that Ed sings "f--k" in Don't (it's censored out), and talks about "getting down" and "bottle of water with tequila" in Sing, but it doesn't get worse than that. Overall, a great album in the midst of mainstream pop!
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bygrizmaster1981 October 2, 2014

You need to look harder than that.

You just said there were just a couple of sh--. I am a little appalled you forgot the f-bombs in "Don't". It goes Don't f--- with our love. Whoever reviewed this album did not pay attention to the whole thing.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 13 years old Written byLinkTech267 March 4, 2016

CSM Left out some swears.

In Don't and The Man, they have multiple uses of f-ck. My favorites are Thinking Out Loud and Don't.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


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