Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift’s “The Joker and the Queen” is the product of nostalgia

“The Joker and the Queen” was originally released as a solo track on Ed Sheeran’s = (Equals) album last October, but he and Taylor Swift recently put out the duet version, announcing it as a sequel to their previous song, “Everything Has Changed” — and the iconic music video that came with is the cherry on top.


Michael Sears/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Ed Sheeran performs at a sold-out Miller Park on Oct. 24, 2018.

Olivia Augustine, Arts Reporter

Taylor Swift’s “Everything Has Changed” featuring Ed Sheeran was on repeat in my house for weeks when it came out as part of her Red album in 2012. When the pair announced “The Joker and the Queen” as a sequel to the beloved song, it was as if prayers were answered.

The follow-up song originally came out as a solo on Sheeran’s last album = (Equals) in October, but on Feb. 11, a version featuring Swift was released. This is Swift and Sheeran’s fourth collaboration.

While “Everything Has Changed” depicts a curious and optimistic view on the start of a brand-new relationship, “The Joker and the Queen” shows the progression of a relationship through many years, as it’s beginning to change.

The lyrics describe being lucky to be with someone, even through long amounts of time and life changes. It has a longing tone to it – which wasn’t present in its predecessor – and almost feels more desperate, but in a controlled and loving way, like the feeling of genuinely needing to be with someone.

The song is also riddled with card puns, as can be assumed by the title, “The Joker and the Queen,” which is a fun play on the story being portrayed.

My one complaint on this matter is that as a sequel to another song that doesn’t take on this same playful wordplay, it feels a little misplaced. The story would seem to flow more accordingly if the two songs were written in a more similar style.

What really made this release special was the music video, which starred the same two actors from the “Everything Has Changed” video, who portrayed Swift and Sheeran’s hypothetical elementary school-age children.

10 years later, actors Jack Lewis and Ava Ames reprise their original roles, this time as new college kids who are trying to maintain a relationship from different schools.

Seeing these same actors progress in the same way their characters would was nostalgic, touching, and the perfect cherry on top of the storytelling that fans are already obsessed with.

Though I’ve never had a long-distance relationship in my time as a college student, I still found this really interesting to watch, as it applies widely to my age group and it’s something I’ve seen many close friends go through.

Also enjoyable were the several easter eggs placed throughout the video – something Sheeran stans and Swifties have come to look for. A personal favorite was a red hat and scarf spotted in Ames’ character’s room, which is a nod to Swift’s “All Too Well: The Short Film”.

Other notable easter eggs are Sheeran’s teaser for the video, showing a playing card with a queen resembling Swift, and Ames’ character again scribbling the number 13 several times in her journal, which is widely regarded as the singer’s favorite number.

One potential Easter egg I can’t seem to figure out, despite my research, is Lewis’ character scribbling names onto his guitar in his respective college town. I think this is interesting and conceivably important — I just wish I could figure out what it means.

In the video, Lewis and Ames mouth the words to certain parts of the song — I don’t love this. It’s not that there’s necessarily an issue with it, but again, it doesn’t match the theme and style of the first video, which I would expect from a sequel.

Except for a couple continuation quirks, both the music video and the song itself were beautiful and compelling. “The Joker and the Queen” told a story I didn’t know I wanted to hear more of.