Ed Sheeran's album ÷ (Divide) is the fastest selling album by a male UK artist, ever. Don't tell me that you haven't listened to it. You definitely streamed it on YouTube. In ÷'s opening week, the album was sold and streamed over 672,000 times.
I work in a record shop. Before ÷'s March release the staff had a meeting to prepare, with predictions that a single from the album is tipped for Christmas number one. We are wearing special blue t-shirts. The album is repeating on loudspeaker. I have heard it over one hundred times. I will hear it one hundred more times. I duet with customers as I replenish album stock.
"Finish some Doritos and another bottle of wine, I swear I'm gonna put you in a song that I write about a Galway girl and a perfect night."
What did I just sing?
Let's set the scene. Track six, Galway Girl, opens with Ed Sheeran busking on a street corner, as Ed Sheeran is wont to do. A pretty, little woman is like: hey man, it's Ed Sheeran! She plays the fiddle in an Irish band. She shares a cigarette with Ed Sheeran while her brother plays the acoustic guitar. They go to a bar and drink all afternoon. Ed Sheeran kisses her neck. I imagine the brother becomes uncomfortable and leaves, but he's never specifically mentioned again. My theory is that he is still third wheeling with the acoustic guitar because she kisses Ed Sheeran back like nobody else was in the room, not when. But it's open to interpretation. The bar closes. The night is cold. Their coats smell of whisky, smoke and hedonism. Ed Sheeran walks her home. He kisses her neck. She invites him inside. They finish some Doritos and another bottle of wine (I swear I'll put you in a song that I write about a Galway girl and a perfect night).
The Doritos 'n wine lyric captivates me. What wine did they pair with the Doritos? Why did it make the final pressing? The last thing I would do is chow down on some Cool Ranch at the critical moment, especially in a high-stakes chance encounter with Ed Sheeran. But they were drunk. And isn't bloated cheesy Dorito sex the ultimate acceptance and intimacy? What we all want? Is that why ÷ is ubiquitous? Am I reading too much into it?
My guess, for what it's worth, is that "Doritos 'n wine" was intended as a placeholder line, which is why it sticks out tonally. The songwriters probably wanted to repeat the /to/ sound in "Doritos" and "bottle" and the /i/ sound in "night" and "wine." How words sound together propels music forward.
The lyric is funny, awkward, and human. Pop music is designed for mass appeal. When I ask customers what they think of the album at my till in a record shop in a small town, they always say that Galway Girl is their favourite song. You only need to hear it once and you can sing all the words. It is radio gold dust. It is why the whole album is currently in the UK singles chart, making history.
(And my favourite flavour of Doritos is Chilli Heatwave, fyi.)