I’m working an internship at a summer camp is Philadelphia. Basically I’m helping to lead a leadership training program.
But while living at a camp and working full time, for some reason I thought, sure. I can keep working Observer articles. So that’s what I’ve been doing.
I recently submitted an article on my experience being backstage during a Lion King production (which will either get published soon or I will put it up on here), and then I landed two interviews.
One Tuesday morning at camp, I took a break from my internship duties to go back to my cabin and have a phone call with both Kristian from Sugarland (the duo that just did that song “Babe” with Taylor Swift), and Kevin from Pentatonix (aka my favorite member).
Kristian was very professional and pleasant to talk to. He gave me the scoop on his partnership with Taylor Swift and everything.
Kevin was calling from Cali so he had just woken up it seemed, so it was a very chill conversation. He was super nice, even trying to work with a couple technical hiccups I had. I gushed about how much I loved their show last year, and he was so excited about coming back to Dallas for Whataburger.
Victoria’s Secret Angel, creator and host of America’s Next Top Model, America’s Got Talent, Eve from Life Size.
My editor from the Dallas Observer had me do what they call a “phoner.” Apparently, that’s journalism talk for a phone interview.
So, I got in contact with her people, and a time was set (4:30 pm C/T she said) for my talk with Tyra Banks.
Beforehand, my mom took me to Bird Bakery, where coincidentally, we saw a recognizable face.
Yes, THE Armie Hammer.
His wife owns Bird Bakery, but we’ve never actually seen him there. I didn’t say anything to him, since I could tell he just wanted to enjoy coffee and pastries with a couple I’d assume were his parents. (Or grandparents? Not sure, I was too busy trying not to stare at Armie, who looks EXACTLY like he does in the movies.)
He was sitting right across from me.
After chit chatting within earshot of Armie for about an hour, I had my mom drive me back to my dorm.
Bye, Armie. I need to go talk to Tyra. Like WHAT EVEN was this day??
We were about five minutes away when it happened.
The phone rang. 15 minutes early than I expected.
Tyra’s assistant asked me if I was ready.
I SO was not. Not ready. Not. Ready.
I explained to her the miscommunication in timing and asked for a couple minutes.
“Yeah, it’s just… I have her here and she’s been going nonstop all day since 4 in the morning…” the assistant explained. “Can I call you back in 3 minutes?”
I agreed, hung up, and my mom and I freaked out.
Luckily, she was able to park. I got out my laptop, started the recording and got out my questions. My mom held up her phone as a backup recording.
I heard the ring.
The assistant asked if I was ready. I wasn’t, but I said yes anyway. I’d never freakin been on the phone with a celebrity before, I had no idea what I was doing.
“Okay hold on, let me go grab her.”
Silence. My mom turned her head away just in case Tyra could hear her breathing.
Tyra Banks knew my name.
“Hi Tyra, how are you?” I said, relieved I said her name right. (You see, all day for some psychotic reason, I had been calling her Tanya. Tanya. WHAT.
“I’m good, how are you?”
“I’m doing good! I’m Isabel from the Dallas Observer.” (Well obviously she knew that already. I was soooo awkward!!!)
We started to chit chat about the Today Show she had to get up at 4 that morning to go to, and we were off. I went into full interview mode.
Hearing the recording played back, I was SO awkward. Lots of nervous laughter, lots of accidentally interrupting her. It was… a learning experience.
Halfway through, Tanya said this:
“Oh what do you want, boo boo?”
I assumed she was talking to her kid. We weren’t at that level yet, you know?
“This is my son,” Tyra explained. “I gave my nanny Easter off so… we just had a babysitter today. Okay boo boo, what do you want? You just want mommy to get off the phone?”
Cutest voice ever: “Yeah…”
“Okay well you go talk to Nana and mommy’s going to be finished soon, okay?”
“Mommy’s going to be finished soon!” She explained that he had come to the Today Show with them. “He had fun! He was running around…”
Our interview lasted about 10 minutes. Tyra was a super nice person, super easy to talk to and very easy to interview! She even spilled some information about Life Size 2 that I didn’t think had been released anywhere yet!
Tyra’s “people” invited me to the event she is hosting in Dallas next week, as well as gave me a copy of her new book, Perfect is Boring!
Ed Sheeran took a year off. He got rid of social media, communicating solely through email, and traveled the world with his girlfriend. He came back, finished up ÷, and has recently released it. The following is a breakdown of each song, pulled from an interview (which will be in a link in Part 2), in which Ed addresses Divide track-to-track.
As Ed says, he “couldn’t have made a better album.”
Track 1, and Ed hits us with verses upon verses of what he calls “verbal vomit.” The words strike with such rawness and realness. Almost the first whole minute is simply Ed spitting bars about fame, money, and the “trappings of the industry.”
Ed wrote this song in his treehouse the same night he wrote “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here.” He says “there’s so much that has happened to me in the last 5 years that I haven’t been able to talk about.” A great kick start to ÷, “Eraser” packs a punch for sure.
Castle on a Hill
Here we have a single that was released in January. A classic roll-your-windows-down-a-country-road Sheeran song. Most of his friends cried when they first heard it, and it’s his dad’s favorite song on the album (probably because he actually lives near the castle on the hill). Ed remarked that he was influenced by Snow Patrol, and that he had the idea of doing a reflective song for a while. He said he thought, “No one’s done this reflective thing! And then that Lukas Graham song came on- and I was like, aaaah!”
Ahh, now we’re chilling it out a bit after a couple hard-hitting tracks. A great ballad filled with Ed’s underrated belting skills. A classic beat with some very unique melodies and lines like:
So don’t call me baby Unless you mean it Don’t tell me you need me If you don’t believe it So let me know the truth Before I dive right into you
When asked about this song, Ed said “that’s hard to sing.” Understandable. But he did it great, didn’t he? “It was meant to be sung falsetto. I was in the kitchen belting it out and Benny (Benny Blanco, producer) was like- ‘that’s how you’re meant to sing it!’.”
Another surprise in this song was the background female vocal. Out of nowhere, a woman named Jessie Ware (who did vocals for 3 songs and co-wrote “New Man”), comes in. Ed confessed that none of his managers and no one at the label agreed with adding her in (it had never happened before on a song of his), but he insisted.
Well I found a woman, stronger than anyone I know She shares my dreams, I hope that someday I’ll share her home I found a love, to carry more than just my secrets To carry love, to carry children of our own We are still kids, but we’re so in love, fighting against all odds I know we’ll be alright this time Darling just hold my hand, be my girl, I’ll be your man I see my future in your eyes
Before writing this soft, classic love song, Ed said that his mindset was “I need to write the best love song of my career, and I need to do it %100 me.” Ed’s mission was to beat his hit “Thinking Out Loud,” and ended up writing, singing and producing what he sees as his best song yet.
Talking about his current girlfriend and childhood sweetheart Cherry Seaborn, he admits that he is “really happy, really comfortable,” and has “never been more inspired.”
A personal favorite of mine, and apparently Ed’s as well. About this ode to Ireland, he said “That’s like my favorite one. My whole album is my favorite one, but that one I was so excited to come out!”
For those who don’t know, Galway is a harbor city in Ireland. Ed had an Irish folk band called Beoga over at his house to record for some of his songs, and decided to write a song in their style. Some people are speculating that the “Galway Girl” is Niamh Dunne, the fiddler in Beoga, but some facts in her life don’t really match up with the song. Also, Ed has said that this was one of two fictional songs in the album (the other, we have no idea).
“I know there’s like 400 million people in the world that claim Irish, and they’re going to love it, and I can’t wait to put it out there. And also Ireland is my biggest market.” There you go, Ireland. A perfect song all wrapped in a bow.
Ain’t nobody hurt you like I hurt you But ain’t nobody need you like I do I know that there’s others that deserve you But my darling I am still in love with you
“When you’ve had your first relationship or second relationship when you’re young and it ends, you’re so bitter about it and I get to sort of… look at exes in their relationships and think ‘she actually looks happier than she’d be if she were with me’,” Ed said, when asked to explain the feeling that this song stemmed from.
“It was a kind of epiphany moment,” he commented, comparing it a little to Adele’s “Someone Like You.” He described meeting the new boyfriend of the girl who his first and second albums were mostly about, and thinking, “he’s so much more suited to her than I ever was.”
Now, this song is just plain funny. It’s definitely one of my favorite tracks, and proof that Ed can put things like Instagram stalking, kale, Kardashians, and eyebrow plucking into a song and still make you dance.
But still, I’m just keeping it real, still looking at your Instagram and I’ll be creeping a little I’ll be trying not to double tap, from way back, cause I know that’s where the trouble’s at Let me remind of the days when you used to hold my hand And when we sipped champagne out of cider cans I guess if you were Lois Lane, I wasn’t superman, just a young boy trying to be loved So let me give it to you
About this song, Ed said “I was basically like, let’s write a list of like- you know when your ex leaves you and the first guy she gets with- what that guy is like.”
Apparently this was going to be a bonus track (Ed wanted “Save Myself” to be in its place), but the management insisted on putting it in the top 12, and I’m glad he did.
Hearts Don’t Break Round Here
Ed did say that this was his favorite song of the album, but by this time he’s said that about maybe 3 or 4 tracks, sooooo we’re just going to accept the fact that he can’t show favoritism with his babies. That’s okay.
This track came a bit later, and was an “Ed production” as well, meaning that it was %100 Ed-produced, written and recorded. He wrote it on his kitchen table, remarking that he often “finds the best songs- like happier- where it’s not structured.”
What Do I Know?
This song was Ed’s way of having a say in politics.
We could change this whole world with a piano Add a bass, some guitar, grab a beat and away we go I’m just a boy with a one man show No university no degree but lord knows Everybody’s talking about exponential growth And the stock market crashing and their portfolios While I’ll be sitting here with a song that I wrote Saying love could change the world in a moment But what do I know? Love can change the world in a moment But what do I know? Love can change the world in a moment But what do I know?
Many a British artist can get confused about the craziness of American politics. I mean, even American politicians can get confused about it sometimes. I don’t know about you, but I love how Ed has put his two cents in. He describes this song as a “knee-jerk reaction” to what happened last year. “It’s me looking at the world and being like, we’re not doing too well here, are we?” I appreciate Ed giving us some perspective, and as always, backed up by a catchy beat.
How Would You Feel
I was a little iffy about the new album when I heard “Shape Of You”- I thought, this could go either way. I hoped Ed hadn’t gotten sucked into the swirling vortex of pop music. But after hearing this song, I was confident that Ed would never do that to us.
Another classic love song to add to Ed’s collection of perfect wedding songs. He was asking Cherry what her favorite song of the album was, and she replied with, “my favorite song, you don’t even know it exists.” So, she found it in her email and played it to him. As it turns out, he had written it a while back, recorded it on his iPhone, sent it to her, and forgotten about it. Thanks to his girlfriend, we get to enjoy this gorgeous ballad.
Another fun fact! Ed said that while he was trying to get the guitar solo down, he wasn’t satisfied and kept thinking about how only John Mayer could do it well. And since he’s lucky enough to have John’s number, he called him up. The brilliant guitar solos that you are graced with in this track is the John Mayer.
The last song and the four bonus tracks will be covered in Part 2.
In a previous album, Ed had released “Afire Love,” one of my favorite songs of his, as a tribute to his late grandfather on his father’s side. Here is another song about a grandparent, this time about his late grandmother on his mother’s side.
His grandmother was very ill and passed away when he was making the record. At first, he wasn’t going to release this song, but was encouraged to do so by his father and grandfather after he had played it at the funeral. A beautiful song, written from the perspective of his mom.
So I’ll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum When I fell down you’d be there holding me up Spread your wings as you go And when God takes you back He’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home
Another one of those songs that make you sort of rethink your life. Thanks, Ed.
I gave you all my energy and I took away your pain Cause human beings are destined to radiate or drain What line do we stand upon cause from here it looks the same? And only scars remain
Life can get you down so I just numb the way it feels I drown it with a drink and out of date prescription pills And all the ones that love me, they just left me on the shelf, no farewell So before I save someone else, I’ve got to save myself
If you’re listening to this after “Save Myself,” it’s a bit random and out of place. Yet, it fits. Perhaps it’s a cousin to “Galway Girl”?
This was basically Ed telling the love story of his grandparents. The whole thing was a true story, which makes it a thousand times better.
She and I went on the run Don’t care about religion I’m gonna marry the woman I love Down by the Wexford border She was Nancy Mulligan, and I was William Sheeran She took my name and then we were one Down by the Wexford border
Well I met at her Guys in the second world war She was working on a soldier’s ward Never had I seen such beauty before The moment that I saw her Nancy was my yellow rose And we got married wearing borrowed clothes We got eight children now growing old Five sons and three daughters
Let me just say, wouldn’t we all want to have a grandson like Ed?
Bibia Be Ye Ye
After the opening lines about losing his shoes and not knowing where he put his keys, I was hooked by how relatable this song sounds, you know?
Someone told me, always say what’s on your mind And I am only, being honest with you, I I get lonely And make mistakes from time to time Se enioma enko ye Bibia Be Ye Ye Bibia Be Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Ye Bibia Be Ye Ye
Okay, let’s translate. “Se enioma enko ye” means “if things aren’t working out,” and “bibia be ye ye” means “everything will be alright.” It’s not just a bunch of random cool sounds.
This is another ode to Ed’s year of travels, because it was recorded in Africa.
This song was going to be the first single, but ended up as a bonus track, and I’m not really sure why, because it’s awesome. I mean, not only is it one of Ed’s catchiest songs, but he even speaks spanish in it! He said that he was in Barcelona about to make the video when he got a call that his album wasn’t good enough yet. He said that his managers “know that if you put pressure on me, the songs will come.” At that point, he kept writing, and was happy he did, because he came up with an album he is really proud of.
For the full interview (it’s an hour long; I watched it so you don’t have to, but you do you), see below:
When people cover songs from other artists, I think it’s just so cool. I love how you can listen to one song, and then someone new sings it and it can turn into something totally different. Here are a few of my favorites. Enjoy!
(These aren’t in order. I can’t choose favorites.)
Imagine Dragons- Stand By Me
The band performed this at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards. They’ve done some really cool covers, including “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift, if you wanna look that one up. This one I thought was super cool.
2. Boyce Avenue and Bea Miller- We Can’t Stop
Can we just take a moment to appreciate these people’s voices? They’re those kinds of singers that don’t really need to try, they just sound naturally beautiful. Love their take on Miley Cyrus’ song, how they softened it up and made it sound so pretty. And Bea was only 14 at the time!
3. Taylor Swift- Riptide
I love Taylor’s version of Vance Joy’s song, I actually like it better than the original. It’s also refreshing to see her with a piano.
4. Little Mix- Doo-Wop/ Never Leave You (Acapella)
The only thing I love better than a good cover- a good acapella cover. I love it when Little Mix does acapella. It really shows off their talent and individual voices. Little Mix are the winners of the British X-Factor in 2011. They are currently #2 in the charts in the UK with their new album “Get Weird” (which I highly recommend, by the way).
5. Fifth Harmony and Boyce Avenue- Mirrors
This one is also with Boyce Avenue, featuring Fifth Harmony. The blending and harmonizing in this is marvelous. I listen to this version even more than Justin Timberlake’s.
6. Ed Sheeran- Stay With Me
If the sunset had a voice, I’m pretty much it would sound like Ed Sheeran.
7. Birdy- The A Team
I think this one is just beautiful. And her piano- playing skills are incredible! The way she sings this song makes it seem like I’m hearing it for the first time.
That’s all for now, folks! Hope you enjoyed these! Feel free to comment your favorites, or if you have any other cool covers you’d like to share!