Ed Sheeran boldly takes on dance with his music video for “Thinking Out Loud.” Once we get over the “wow, Ed Sheeran can dance!”, we see that while he may not be the most fluid or technically adept dancer on the planet, he brings his interpretive understanding of the song and own sense of lyricism to his movement and the overall dance. That and Ed can dance! Before I dive into the video itself, let’s step back and look at the song. This is a great song about love being evergreen, lasting throughout time. Of course, this isn’t a particularly new notion. We see similar themes everywhere from Proverbs (5:18): “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth”, Shakespeare (Sonnet 108): “Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name. So that eternal love in love’s fresh case, weighs not the dust and injury of age” and the Beatles (“When I’m Sixty-Four”): “When I get older losing my hair/Many years from now … Will you still need me, will you still feed me/When I’m sixty-four?” It is, however, a particularly poignant and well-done modern take of that same theme of love weathering the years: “When your legs don’t work like they used to before /And I can’t sweep you off of your feet/Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?…/And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re 70/And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at 23.”
While the video doesn’t match movement to lyric, it mirrors the song’s themes. Like the song, it takes classics and makes them contemporary. We see two silhouetted figures in what would have been tux and fancy dress made current with pants and vest with shirt sleeves rolled while his dance partner (the lovely Brittany Cherry) is in gauzy skirt, an almost bustier and bare feet; all focused on showing the dancers’ forms in movement. So while evocative and sexy, the focus is on love expressed in dance. It’s in a ballroom, but with lighting automatically coming up during the song and spotlights following the dancers. So we see these figures in their prime dancing out their love for a time when they may not be able to dance. This is not your granddaddy’s foxtrot. We see different elements woven throughout the dance with a near tango, in the beginning, a brief “slow-dance” middle section, an air guitar using a leg, twirling on the floor and spotlights coming together to make a heart shape (yeah, a little cheesy). All of that could have been done with a professional dancer. Mr. Sheeran brings out the musicality and sense of the song with some of his smaller gestures such a the way he pulls her chin to look in her eyes, he moves his head as she pulls his chin, the line of his arm during a change of position, the roll of his head and the overall incorporation of the all the different elements.
The video is directed by Emil Nava, shot in 16mm film and, apparently, in one take. The camera work is fluid and never jarring. The cuts match the fluidity of the movements so that the camera’s eye moves within the same pacing and arc as the dancers themselves. The simplicity of the ballroom is a perfect canvas to display their movement. All in all, it’s a flat out visual delight with kudos going to Mr. Nava and the choreography team Tabitha & Napoleon D’umo, aka “Nappytabs” for beautifully driving “Thinking Out Loud” into movement. Check out the “behind the scenes” for a little more on this amazing video.