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Released: 2023

Echoing the strains of the pandemic and the heartache of lost love, Ed Sheeran’s “Eyes Closed” is a stark, melancholic exploration of grief, anguish, loneliness, and the resilience of the human spirit. Sheeran doesn’t sugarcoat his feelings; he dives deep into his sorrows, taking us on a painfully relatable journey. It’s pop at its most confessional, making sense of the seemingly senseless, striving to grow through the pain.

Kicking off with the opening line, “I know it’s a bad idea/But how can I help myself?,” Sheeran admits he’s flirting with self-destruction, taking refuge in a bottle. He’s been isolating, dealing with a tough year, which could be a nod to the bleary solitude of pandemic lockdowns. He’s trying to hold back the waterworks while feeling the sting of his mates’ absence. The term “mates,” a casual British slang for friends, underscores just how hard this year has hit.

“I pictured this year a little bit different when it hit February,” he laments acknowledging the expectations he’d had for the year. The bar reminds him of his loss, the weight of it hitting him unexpectedly. The phrase “how can it be this heavy?” is a testament to the burden of sadness weighing on him. His anguish sharpens with every song he hears, reminding him of the one who’s no longer in his life.

The chorus, “Just dancin’ with my eyes closed / ‘Cause everywhere I look, I still see you” is a desperate coping mechanism. He’s dancing alone – a metaphor for trying to find joy or solace amidst the heartache. But it’s barely working, as it still conjures images of his lost friend, making time feel as though it’s crawling.

The second verse reflects a delusional hope that the one he lost might come back. He’s in a room alone, still holding on to memories tinted with happiness. But the reality is more raw; he lost more than his friend. He’s lost a piece of himself.

As the song progresses, the bar scene clears out, cementing his feeling of loneliness. He’s last to leave, clinging to his memories, the reality too painful to face, thus he resorts to “dancin’ with my eyes closed.” This implies the continuation of his coping mechanism, keeping on, even when the world around him moves forward.

“Eyes Closed” is a poignant testament to the depths of human heartache, a testimony as true as the pop anthems of the human spirit can get. Ed Sheeran undeniably shows us the darker side of pop – where it’s not all about glitz and glamour, but often about struggle, heartbreak, and persistence in the face of adversity.

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