The Story Behind ‘The Joker & The Queen’ By Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift
Ed Sheeran has another breakout ballad on his hands with “The Joker & The Queen.”
On Feb. 10, the “Bad Habits” hitmaker released a remix of the song with his friend and frequent collaborator, Taylor Swift. This came after he gave a showstopping performance of the song at the 2022 BRIT Awards.
Sheeran co-wrote the song with Snow Patrol member Johnny McDaid and producer/songwriter Fred Again. This was the same day that he created his single, “Bad Habits.”
The tune was inspired by his wife, Cherry Seaborn. Originally, they hadn’t planned to write a ballad that day, in fact, they thought they finished for the day after creating his single. Again ended up playing a piano instrumental that was created by Sam Romans.
“It was probably 15 to 20 minutes of writing down metaphors and whispering them in,” Sheeran said, per Song Facts. “I had the line ‘joker & the queen.’ Then it was like, ‘I fold, you saw my hand, you let me win, you put the cards on the table.'”
Oddly enough, Ed Sheeran didn’t believe that the song was worthwhile. He thought it was “cheating when it’s that easy.”
His brother Matthew Sheeran, who has a background in classical music and composition, ended up creating the orchestral arrangement.
“And suddenly it sounded like this old classic that had been around since the ’50s.” The song was then featured on his fourth studio album, =.
How ‘The Joker & The Queen’ Gave Ed Sheeran New Confidence
Ed Sheeran told Apple Music that the song
“I am the ballad guy,” he began. But you know, if you look at my repertoire. The big songs are ‘Shape Of You,’ ‘Perfect,’ you’ve got, ‘Thinking Out Loud,’ whatever, ‘Photograph’… So you’ve got three ballads in there.”
He explained that his “thing” has been singing and rapping over his acoustic guitar.
“So ballads came when ‘Thinking Out Loud’ became massive,” he noted. “And then suddenly everyone was ‘He’s a ballad guy.’ And I don’t know if I can do that again and ‘Perfect’ comes out and it does it again and more and then I’m, like, I don’t know if I can really do that again. So when ‘The Joker and The Queen’ happened, I wasn’t trying to write a ballad.”
The song ended up actually making him confident in writing slower songs and ballads once again.
“I was like ‘Alright metaphors, card game, show your cards on the table, heart, joker, queen, king, diamonds.’ And it was written very, very quickly.
He admitted that he was “very skeptical of the song” for months. This was because he didn’t “rate it at all.”
“The more and more people like you that would listen to it, that was a turning point for me,” he shared. “Coming to play it for you and you listening to it, I was like ‘Maybe it is good,’ because in my head I was so convinced it was a ‘blah’ song because I’ve made so many ‘blah’ songs that people eventually think of ‘blah’ if that makes sense.”
How Taylor Swift Joined In
It’s no secret that Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran have been friends for years. In fact, Sheeran was actually the opening act for her Red Tour.
In 2012 for Swift’s Red album, they released the duet “Everything Has Changed” to rave reviews. Since then, they collaborated on “End Game” off of Swift’s Reputation record and “Run” off of Swift’s re-release of Red (Taylor’s Version).
Eagle-eyed fans realized that the two would be collaborating soon thanks to hidden Easter eggs in their music videos. Swift’s music video for “I Bet You Think About Me” featured her carving an “=” into a cake. Sheeran’s “Overpass Graffiti” video featured a “Taylor Swift” patch on his jacket.