Third time’s the charm!
The 59-year-old Italian opera star sings in Italian on the track, with Sheeran briefly trying his hand at the language too. They trade lead vocals throughout the duet, dubbed “Perfect Symphony.”
Bocelli isn’t the only change in this version of “Perfect.” Sheeran’s brother Matthew Sheeran, a classical composer, provided the arrangements — ramping up the orchestrations and giving the guitar-driven track a whole new elegance.
In the video released with the song, the singers can be seen in the studio in Bocelli’s home in Tuscany, Italy. It appears they had a mutual respect for one another too. At one moment, Bocelli sits in his chair, singing while conducting as Sheeran stares at him, transfixed by his voice.
“It’s just kind of like a little present for Christmas,” Sheeran told Today on Dec. 8, where he first revealed that he would be dropping the remix.
Two weeks earlier, Spotify’s most-streamed artist of 2017 had dropped another remixed version with Beyoncé. It’s since gone to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, giving Beyoncé her first top spot since 2008’s “Single Ladies.”
She and Sheeran have collaborated two other times before, performing together at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival and again earlier that year in February during a tribute to Stevie Wonder at Songs in the Key of Life — An All-Star Salute.
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“Perfect,” which is the fifth track on his Sheeran’s studio album ÷ (pronounced “Divide”), was written by Sheeran and produced by Will Hicks and Benny Blanco.
It happens to be Sheeran’s favorite song on his album, as he revealed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Dec. 1. “It was one of the fastest songs that I’d written. It just kind of came out,” Sheeran said. “It’s the first song I wrote for the album and I’m not really sick of it — I still listen to it.”
It helps that the love song is inspired by his girlfriend Cherry Seaborn, whom he’s been with for almost three years.
“We went to high school together,” Sheeran said, adding they recently moved into the same home. “She’s really cool. We live together, we have two cats [Calippo and Dorito] but they’re both really, really strange creatures. They kind of sit up like humans. It’s really strange. You’ll walk in and they’ll be looking at you.”
The two plan on spending the holidays together, as Sheeran told PEOPLE earlier this month.
“We bought What Do You Meme? — do you know that game?” Sheeran said. “I’m going to play that with her family. She only lives a couple of miles away from me. So I usually have Christmas at my house and drive over to hers.”
While the card game, which asks players to match a photo with the funniest meme, will likely be a highlight of Sheeran’s holiday, it’s not the only thing on his schedule.
“We do 12 Pubs of Christmas, which is a pub crawl and you have a pint at every pub,” said the two-time Grammy winner.