Music Video Breakdown: "Castle on the Hill" by Ed Sheeran

If you’re a heartbroken Sheerio, you can rest easy now that Ed Sheeran’s back. If, like many Americans, you don’t really care about anything he does, you can rest easy knowing that in a couple months you won’t have to hear about him for a while. But for now, Ed Sheeran is back and causing a lo-fi ruckus while he’s at it. Sheeran’s new video for “Castle on the Hill” is big news, with over 77 million views. The video has one central point: that Sheeran is better than all his childhood friends.

The video stars Sheeran himself, another teen who plays Young Sheeran, and an interchangeable group of teens straight out of “The Inbetweeners” who serve as his friends as he reflects on his childhood before he meets up with them in some random field. Young Sheeran plays the role of the storyteller of his friend group. But rarely is Sheeran ever a central figure in any scene. He’s always a little distant from the group to show his maturity and future stardom—save for the scene where he’s having his first kiss while all his other friends creepily gawk at him, foreshadowing his life of a celebrity in a society that fetishizes it.

This is also true in Adult Sheeran’s scenes. Sheeran stares angstily away from the camera so that he highlights his new scar. That way, he can show all the struggles he went through to come out ahead of his friends. This is emphasized towards the end of the video when the camera pans on several friends’ faces as Sheeran sings about how all their lives suck, before Sheeran meets up with his ever-changing demographic of friends, now adults living sad lives, and graces them with his celebrity presence as the only person who “made it.”

The video tells the harrowing tale of a time when Sheeran was not rich and famous, but the video ends on a happy note as all of Sheeran’s more unfortunate friends stare in awe at this clearly exceptional being. It goes to show that if you’re just distant and hardworking enough, one day you too could grow up to be as superior as Ed Sheeran is.

—Staff writer Edward M. Litwin can be reached at