“The Joker and the Queen” is a touching love story

Ed Sheeran’s recent release with Taylor Swift, “The Joker and the Queen,” offers closure to the two artists’ journeys in music and love for the past decade


Photo credits Larry Busacca

A path down memory lane for Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran fans all over the world, the music video for “The Joker and the Queen” comes nine years after “Everything Has Changed,” continuing where the childhood sweethearts’ storyline left off in 2013. 

“The Joker and the Queen” is a sweet and fragile song off of Sheeran’s 2021 album, “Equal,” about love found in unlikely places, drawing on wordplay about the game of poker. The song begins tentatively, Sheeran singing: “I showed you my hand and you still let me win / And who was I to say that this was meant to be? / The road that was broken brought us together.” 

The lyrics themselves are about a queen (the second most powerful card in a deck) falling for the oddball joker (a card with no value, often pulled out of the deck when playing) and the joker’s wonder at the queen’s choice. The version released on Feb. 10 includes Swift singing from the queen’s perspective. Sheeran and Swift act the story out as much as they sing it. A direct contrast to Sheeran’s whispering awe at the queen’s love, Swift’s voice is soft but bold, emphasizing the queen’s proud and direct adoration of the joker. Each time Swift sings, she seems to be reassuring the joker that her love for him is real. In response to Sheeran’s line, “And I know you could fall for a thousand kings / And hearts that would give you a diamond ring,” Swift’s line is: “And I know you think that what makes a king / Is gold, a palace, and diamond rings / When I fold, you see the best in mе / The joker and the queen.” 

Although the continued storyline of “The Joker and the Queen” music video drew crazy excitement from nostalgic fans, the music video didn’t do much for me, while the actual song felt particularly poignant and touching. 

It was sweet to see the two children who played the childhood friends reprise their roles as adults, but I was disappointed that their storyline only related to the song lyrics loosely. The music video seems to serve to “wrap up” the story with a new open-ended ending as the childhood best friends grow up and head off to college while clutching each other’s photos. However, the song itself seems like a contented reflection from the two artists as they find themselves in stable, committed relationships and in a later stage of adulthood. Through the courses of their careers, Sheeran and Swift have both floundered in love and established that neither artist was afraid to cover the messy, gargantuan and intense feelings of a breakup in their music—Swift is particularly notorious and no tracks need to be named, and Sheeran hasn’t shied away from the subject either. Although Sheeran’s “Photograph” has graced many weddings, he also has more bitter tracks like “Don’t”, “She told me, ‘I was never looking for a friend’ / Maybe you could swing by my room around ten / Baby, bring the lemon and a bottle of gin / We’ll be in between the sheets till the late AM.” 

The tenderness and vulnerability of “The Joker and the Queen” is reflective of Swift’s “Lover” from her 2019 album of the same name and Sheeran’s “Equal,” dedicated to his wife Cherry Seaborn. With a much more refined melody than some of their earlier works, the song clearly depicts the love that the two have poured into this song. Like the music video loosely promises, Swift and Sheeran seem to have grown up, gone out into the world and found love.