Ed Sheeran can write one hell of a pop hit.
That’s the idea at the center of Songwriter, his upcoming documentary with Apple Music. Helmed by his cousin and frequent collaborator Murray Cummings (he’s behind the fan video for “Drunk” and Sheeran’s Jumpers for Goalposts concert film), Songwriter follows Sheeran through the creation of his third studio album, Divide.
Divide was a massive success, making virtually every Billboard chart it could upon its release and keeping an iron grip on the top spots for weeks. In the new trailer for Songwriter, Sheeran — a relatively private guy for being one of the most prolific pop musicians and songwriters of the decade — opens by saying this will be a special glimpse into the making of the hit album.
“I guess this is the first time on camera you’re gonna see a song being written, so make sure you get all of it,” Sheeran says.
Cummings films Sheeran in a cozy studio, at packed live shows, and working with a set of prominent collaborators including Benny Blanco, Julia Michaels, Foy Vance, Johnny McDaid, and Amy Wadge. But what’s new to us and especially compelling is that we also get a glimpse of the small, casual moments when inspiration seems to strike. The camera captures Sheeran when he’s at home, in the car, and out having a jam session with friends at a park. It even follows him back to his childhood home and high school; in a surprisingly poignant part of the trailer, he visits the school and reconnects with his old music teacher. Between cuts of old home videos where he’s playing different instruments (and sporting vastly different haircuts, wow), Sheeran talks about developing his songwriting ability, working it out like a muscle.
“When I first started writing songs, they were terrible,” he says in the trailer. “I tried to write two or three songs a day for a while. Once the bad songs had gone, the good songs started flowing.”
Even if Sheeran’s music might not be your cup of tea, the possibility of getting a close-up look into his process is certainly enticing. In the trailer’s close, the singer muses that Divide reflects him the peak of his songwriting abilities — it’s a serendipitous, “magical” album. Here’s hoping Songwriter captures that same spark.
Songwriter will hit limited theaters in New York on August 17 and Los Angeles on August 24. It’ll be available for streaming on Apple Music on August 28.