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"Don't" is a song recorded by English singer-songwriter, Ed Sheeran, for his second studio album, × (2014). Written by Sheeran and Benny Blanco and produced by Blanco and Rick Rubin, the song samples "Don't Mess with My Man" by Lucy Pearl. It was initially planned as the album's lead single, but was passed over in favour of "Sing". It was instead released to iTunes on 13 June 2014 as the second "instant grat" promotional single from ×. "Don't" officially impacted US contemporary hit radio on 15 July 2014 and was released independently on 24 August 2014 as the album's second single.
"Don't" peaked at No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart. In the US, it became Sheeran's first top 10 single. It also made the top 10 in eight other countries.
Background and composition
The song developed from a riff which Sheeran had on his phone for a year. Sheeran first recorded the track with producer Benny Blanco, who was also credited as co-writer under his real name, Benjamin Levin. Sheeran recorded it again with Rick Rubin. The two producers produced the final cut. "Don't" is an R&B song with a "blue-eyed soul hymn".
The lyrics consist of three verses, which Sheeran elaborated: "The first verse is the setup, the second explains the situation, and the third is the outcome, with a chorus in between each." A lyrical screed, it alludes to events attendant to the short-lived relationship Sheeran had with another singer. He sings: "For me and her, we make money the same way/ Four cities, two planes in the same day." Sheeran scorned the former girl for having sex with another guy, and expressed an expletive such as in the line "Don't fuck with my love". Sheeran revealed he wrote the song out of frustration, and, story-wise, the lyrics are self-explanatory. He recalled the events that inspired his writing: "[...] it was one of those situations where someone comes across as a very, very sweet, innocent person, and you take that for granted, then stuff unravels and you see a different side to them." The song was therapeutic because writing it made him feel better afterwards.
About his other songs, Sheeran has openly stated who inspired the lyrical content. But since the release of "Don't", he had remained silent to whom the song is directed to. In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, Sheeran articulated that he had dated a few singers, but his friend Taylor Swift was not among them, and in fact, he played the track to her. This clears up all all speculations about whether Swift was the subject of the song. Taylor is definitely not the inspiration behind this ballad rather it is widely believed it is aimed at Ellie Goulding. Tabloids linked the singers, Selena Gomez and Ellie Goulding, to Sheeran. On 31 October 2015, Fuse posted an interview in which Sheeran says, "'Don't' is just a song that's close to the bone and definitely opened up a door that I probably shouldn't have opened up. [...] I just won't say who it's about because... I mean everyone, everyone fucking knows anyway. But like I just won't say who it's about cause it's quite a negative song."
"Don't" is written in the key of F minor with a tempo of 92 beats per minute.
Release and reception
Sheeran did not intend to release the song on the album, because the lyrics were therapeutic and personal. He was however persuaded by those who had heard the song to release it, as it was "an alright song". He revealed that "the more [he] listened back [he] thought this is an alright song".
"Don't" was planned to be released as the first single from the album until March 2014, when "Sing" was chosen.Billboard speculated that the provocative, "Don't fuck with my love", chorus prompted the change. Sheeran debuted a snippet of the song in a commercial for Beats by Dr. Dre in May 2014.
On 13 June 2014, "Don't" was made available to customers, who pre-ordered ×, as the second "instant grat" promotional single, following "One", and an official audio stream was released on Sheeran's YouTube page. An extended play accompanied the release of the single, featuring a remix by Rick Ross, a live cover of Nina Simone's "Be My Husband", and a non-album song, "Everything You Are". Notably, Sheeran's lyrics aren't censored on the Rick Ross remix, but are on the album version. "Don't" officially impacted US contemporary hit radio on 15 July 2014.
Jason Lipshutz of Billboard wrote: "[...] 'Don't' shows that Sheeran is not afraid to be dangerous, or even explicit, on his sophomore set."
In the UK, the song reached No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart on its ninth week on the chart. As of September 2017, the song has sold 399,000 copies in actual sales, and it also has 67 million streams, giving a total of 1,073,000 combined units in the UK.
In the US, "Don't" reached No. 9 on the all-encompassing Billboard Hot 100 chart; it marked Sheeran's first single to reach the top 10 on that chart. The single has, as of January 2015, sold 1,464,000 digital copies in the US.
An accompanying music video was released on YouTube on 4 August 2014. The video was directed by Emil Nava and follows a dancer (Phillip Chbeeb from I.aM.mE) going from poverty to wealth. Sheeran makes a brief drive-by cameo appearance. 4Music called it a "compelling watch".