÷ (Divide) is Ed Sheeran's third studio album which was released on March 3, 2017 by Asylum Records & Atlantic Records.
On December 13, 2015, Ed Sheeran announced a self-imposed hiatus from social media, commenting that he found himself "seeing the world through a screen and not my eyes." He further ensured that some of this time would be spent creating his third album, which he considered "the best thing I have made thus far."
Exactly one year after this announcement, on December 13, 2016, Sheeran's various social media platforms posted pictures of a blank blue square to state his imminent return to music.
On January 1, 2017, Sheeran officially ended his hiatus by announcing that "new music" would be released on 6 January. On January 12, 2017, he revealed the track list and the release date for the album with its pre-order.
- Eraser 3:48
- Castle On The Hill 4:21
- Dive 3:59
- Shape Of You 3:53
- Perfect 4:24
- Galway Girl 2:51
- Happier 3:27
- New Man 3:09
- Hearts Don't Break Around Here 4:09
- What Do I Know? 3:57
- How Would You Feel (Paean) 4:41
- Supermarket Flowers 3:43
Deluxe edition tracks
- Barcelona 3:11
- Bibia Be Ye Ye 2:56
- Nancy Mulligan 2:59
- Save Myself 4:07
"÷" sold 232,000 physical and digital copies in the UK on its first day of release without the inclusion of streaming data, more than the sales of Sheeran's previous album x in its first week.
In its three days, the album continued to increase in sales and sold over 432,000 copies, thereby topping the UK Albums Chart with just three days of availability. It sold 63% in physical format, 31% in digital, and 6% in streaming equivalent sales.
"÷" sold a total of 672,000 copies in the UK during its first week, making it the nation's fastest-selling album by a male artist and the third highest opening overall behind Adele's album, "25" (which sold 800,307 copies in its first week) and Oasis' album, "Be Here Now" (which sold 696,000 copies in its first week).
In "÷"'s opening week, Sheeran had his first three albums chart in the top five in the UK.
Additionally, it broke the record for the most top 10 songs from a single album on the UK Singles Chart (with nine songs in the top 10 in a single week as well), surpassing a record previously held by Calvin Harris. All 16 songs from the album also entered the top 20.
"÷" reached one million sales in the UK after just 16 days. In the first half of 2017, the album pushed UK music sales up by 11.2% compared to previous year, and it was the best-selling entertainment product of year, ahead of film releases such as Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
By July 2017, "÷" had sold over 2 million units in the UK—1.22 million of these from physical sales and 371,000 copies from downloads, with streaming contributing 415,000 equivalent units. It has since topped the UK Albums Chart for a total of 20 non-consecutive weeks, the longest amount of time since Adele's 21 held the summit in 2011 and 2012.
It was the nation's highest selling album of the year with over 2,128,000 copies sold by the end of 2017.
"÷" debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 451,000 album-equivalent units, of which 322,000 were pure album sales. The tracks collectively achieved 134.6 million streams in the United States in the album's first week of availability.
Ten songs from the album also debuted on the Hot 100 the same week, joining the three songs already on the chart (including "Shape of You" in its seventh week at number one).
In its second week, "÷" stayed on top of Billboard 200 with 180,000 units (87,000 copies sold) which qualified it for a Gold certification from the RIAA on March 22, 2017.
By July 2017, tracks from "÷" had accumulated over one billion audio streams in the US. The album earned 2,764,000 album-equivalent units in the US throughout 2017, finishing as the year's best-selling album in the country, and was its second highest-selling album with 1,102,000 copies after Taylor Swift's album, "Reputation."
In Ireland, "÷" opened at number one as fastest-selling album of the decade with 27,600 units (including 21,300 copies), just 2,300 units below the two-times platinum certification disc.
All three of Sheeran's albums were in the top five. Furthermore, the entire top 16 of the Irish Singles Chart consisted only of songs from the album. In Australia, the album opened at number one with a double Platinum certification in its first week, selling 97,014 copies.
Sheeran also achieved a record with 18 songs in the Australian top 40 in the same week—16 from the album and two from his other albums, which were also in the top five of the albums chart. It has since held the nation's summit a total of 25 non-consecutive weeks, the ninth longest total time spent there.
"÷" was Australia's highest selling album of 2017 with more than 420,000 copies sold throughout the year.
Sheeran also topped the charts in the Belgian region of Flanders, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden. In all, the album opened at number one in over 14 countries, including 10 European nations.
The album peaked at number two in France, selling 40,900 copies. After five months of availability, it was certified three-times platinum there, amounting to 300,000 units (sales and streaming).
As of December 2017, it exceeds 334,000 sales in France. By the end of 2017, 387,000 units (physical and downloads) had been sold in France according to Pure Charts. It was ranked second on the year-end album sales chart.
The album received a diamond certification disc nine months after it was released, due to selling 566,492 units (with streaming). It was ranked first on the year-end album chart (including streaming). As of April 2018, it has sold 600,000 units (including streaming) in France.
As of March 2018, "÷" has stayed at the top of the Danish Albums Chart for 36 non-consecutive weeks, becoming the album with most weeks at number one in Denmark (since IFPI Denmark and Nielsen started tracking sales in 1993).
"÷" was the best selling album globally of 2017, with 6.1 million copies worldwide according to the IFPI and selling 1.3 million copies in pure sales in 2018 so combined sales stand at 7.4 million pures copies sold worldwide.
"÷" has been given a Metacritic score of 62 based on 17 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Maura Johnston of Rolling Stone gave a four-star review, commenting that "Ed is still showcasing pop savvy on Divide" and going on to say that he "doubles down on the blend of hip-hop bravado and everyday-bloke songwriting that helped him break out at the turn of the decade."
Roisin O'Connor of The Independent also gave the album a four-star rating, claiming "[the album] leans on little asides from Sheeran's own talent" and that it was "astonishing for its sheer ambition alone".
Jordan Bassett of NME described the album as "a collection that, somehow, adheres to his perfect pop template... while also being quietly weird", and that the album is "likeable", "assured but unassuming and sometimes hard to fathom".
Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press, after commenting on the album's "missteps", said that it "is certain to add listeners, subtract a few weary of his inconsistency, but definitely multiply his bank account", and ultimately called Sheeran "a special talent".
Some reviews were unfavourable; Harriet Gibsone of The Guardian gave the album a two-star rating out of five, calling it "no less calculating than his peers at the very top level of pop stardom."
In a negative review of 2.8 out of 10, Laura Snapes of Pitchfork stated: "considering he [Sheeran] is among the most successful songwriters in the world, a lot of his lyrics do not even scan."
In another negative review, writing for Drowned in Sound, David Hillier gave ÷ a 3/10 rating, calling it "the most anodyne and bland pop album possible."