Song lyrics – Ed Sheeran – Perfect
In this advanced Learn English Vocabulary podcast, Jack talks about C1 language from Ed Sheeran’s song Perfect.
Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary.
Today, I’m going to look at the lyrics from Ed Sheeran’s song Perfect. This is an amazing song. It’s been played more than 2.5 billion times on youtube and it’s not his most popular song. I’m going to go through the song and pull out the advanced language, the language at C1 and explain it so you can listen to the song again and hopefully enjoy it all the more.
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Dive right in
I have selected 8 advanced phrases from the song and I’m going to explain them in the order that Ed Sheeran sings them. The first is dive right in which is an appropriate phrase to start with because it means start. It’s quite an informal way to say start an activity. We usually use it when the activity is a bit intimidating. The metaphor comes from swimming. You dive into a swimming pool. Diving is a bit scary because you really have to commit when you do it. You need a bit of confidence and this is what is implied when we use the expression dive right in. So imagine if you have to do something complicated for the first time, if you don’t hesitate and just go for it, you could say I’m just going to dive right in. Another reason you might need a bit of courage is if you are in a social situation and there are lots of people watching. Perhaps you are at a karaoke bar and trying to decide who is going to sing first. If someone volunteers, you could say well done for diving right in there. So dive right in is an informal phrase that we use to say someone has started an activity without hesitation.
Follow my lead
The next phrase is follow my lead which comes from old fashioned ballroom dancing I think. When you are dancing, one person, usually the more confident dancer has to lead and the other person follows. This means that they let the leader decide the direction of the dance. The expression follow my lead means watch me and try to act as I do. So it’s important in situations where people don’t know what to do. I went to an important meeting once in London at a company I had never visited before. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen at the meeting and I was a bit nervous. My boss said follow my lead and it will be fine. So I watched my boss and tried to act in the same way that he was. To follow someone’s lead means to do the same thing that they have done or to act in a similar way.
In your eyes
In your eyes is the next phrase. It’s a popular phrase in music so you’ll hear it all over the place. It means in your opinion. It’s a bit more personal than just someone’s opinion, it’s more like someone’s judgement or experience. It’s how someone looks at and what they think about a situation. So a parent might say that in their eyes, their child can do no wrong. It’s inherently subjective, though I’m not going to try to explain that. You can use it to say, I don’t care what other people say, in my eyes you’re special. In this song, Ed Sheeran is concerned about what his perfect partner thinks about him and his love. That’s why he talks about what’s in your eyes.
You looked a mess
You looked a mess is a fun expression that means you looked untidy and well, not your best. A mess is dirty or untidy. My boys’ bedroom is usually pretty messy. If you say that someone looks a mess, it means that their clothes are shabby or dirty or crumpled and their hair isn’t brushed and perhaps they have dirt on their face or smudged makeup. It’s quite a nice expression to say – it’s quite informal. Imagine you’ve just got back from a jungle trek. You’re dirty and sweaty and really need to clean up. If your friend calls you and asks if you want to go out for dinner, you could say, sorry, I‘ve just got back from the jungle and I’m a right mess.
Under your breath
If you say something under your breath, it means you say it really quietly, usually so nobody can hear it. It’s often collocated with the verbs whisper and mutter. In the song, Ed Sheeran sings that he whispered ‘you look perfect’ under his breath. He didn’t say it for his partner to hear, he said it almost to himself. I often mutter things under my breath. I think it might make me look a bit odd, but I still do it. Perhaps, I’m walking around the supermarket and I’m trying to remember what I need to buy. I’ll often mutter things that I need under my breath.
Against all odds
The next phrase is against all odds. This is quite hard to explain if you live in a country that doesn’t have gambling. In the UK, we have bookmakers or bookies where you can go and place a bet on sports normally, or on other things. The bookies tell you what you can win based on what you can bet using numbers like 10-1. This means if you bet 1 pound that a horse wins a race and that horse wins, you win 10 pounds. These numbers are the odds. So the word is used figuratively to mean the possibility or likelihood that something happens. If something really unlikely happens, some strange coincidence, you might hear people exclaim what are the odds. If you do something against all odds, that means that you do it even though the chance or probability of success is very low. So if someone does something and succeeds against all odds, that means that they have succeeded at something that nobody would have predicted. Another interesting use of this is to beat the odds. You can say that someone has beaten the odds if they achieve something that is really unlikely.
To have faith in someone
We have two more phrases left. To have faith in someone or something is quite simple. It means that you believe someone is capable or trust someone to do something. It is a nice phrase you can use to encourage someone who is going to try to do something difficult. You could say. Go on – I have faith in you.
The final phrase is in person and this is an easy phrase to explain. It means face to face, or in real life. So, these days, it’s quite common to work with people but only communicate with them online. I have some colleagues that I speak to regularly but rarely meet in person. I have worked closely with a team of developers in Sri Lanka that I’ve never met in person. Ed Sheeran sings ‘now I know I have met an angel in person’ and this means that he thinks his partner is an angel as he has seen his partner face to face.
I hope you can now go back and listen to the song from the beginning and try to hear these expressions. If you have any suggestions for song lyrics you would like me to look at or any other language you would like me to cover in these podcasts, please feel free to get in touch either on Facebook or on the Learn English Vocabulary website. You can find me on Facebook by searching for learn English vocabulary or online at www.learnenglishvocabulary.co.uk.
Thanks for listening.