Circumstances forced me to listen to the newest Ed Sheeran album THREE times in a row, and let me tell you, that man is the personification of every annoying musician trope I can think of.
I can just see him now, some pretentious sap huddled in the corner of a badly-lit party flicking the strings of his cheap second-hand guitar desecrating some poor Bob Dylan tune, and the easily mislead flock to him as if to say ‘Here, here is a truly interesting person.’ But no, there’s nothing amazing about being able to memorize a simple pattern and inflict it on your miserable monster of wood and string. That sort of musician really aggravates me, and I guarantee you that somewhere on this planet right now Ed Sheeran is being that sort of musician.
Deciding which song on this woebegone album is the worst would be like trying to choose the wettest fish in the sea, but the tune that offended me the most was an inane faux-protest song that asserted that with a simple piano the world can be changed. I daresay it could if it was dropped Earthworm Jim-style on the right person. But no, Sheeranface thinks that playing his piano will change the world and offers no policy beyond the same sickeningly familiar bromides about love and other useless motherhood statements. What’s the point of that? Ed, tell us something you disagree with and tell us to hate it. I’m having a hard time thinking of a single song that changed the world – I’m guessing it’d be a national anthem, a hymn or a jingle – and I doubt that any of those changed the world for the better.
There’s no ambition on the rhythmic sigh of an album. One song was a blatant U2 knock-off and another, something about a Nancy Mulligan, tortured the Irish theme even further by being a blatant hibernophiliac nostalgic piece on his grandparent’s marriage. Sheeran lays the Gaelic cliches thick, complete with that incessant fiddling and presumably drunken Irish singing, a stereotype any Irish listener is entitled to find offensive. This is nationality commodified for a global audience, frankly I’m surprised Sheeran didn’t force a leprechaun to vomit Lucky Charms over the whole thing.
Don’t even get me started on the songs describing Ed Sheeren’s chaotic yet disproportionately active sex life. Nobody wants to hear about that. Oh, you’re too pointless to remember where you lost your keys and you fell asleep under a tree? How very remarkable, I was considering writing a song about the time I mistook a barking seal for a laughing gunman but now that I’ve heard this album I can put such quotidian non-events into context – it’s clearly drunken foolishness that people need to hear about. Annoying singer-song-writers doing it is the last thing I want to think about.
Look, it’s probably not the done thing to make character judgements about musicians you’ve never met, but somehow I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d describe himself as spiritual but not religious. Lacking both the clarity of atheism and passion of religion, my guess is he’d strive for the smuggest position of non-commitment possible. A lack of clarity and passion are really the defining qualities of this unambitiously derivative album that seeks to please everyone yet only enrages me.
The existence of Sheeran’s vocal fanbase indicates that he must have some form of talent, clearly imperceptible to me. My recommendation is that he take a break from this whole musician gig and try to think of something to say that distinguishes himself from the bland mainstream. I don’t care if it’s political, religious (a truly good Christian rockstar could make a mint) or even just a strong opinion on fashion. Currently Sheeran is what you’d get if you divided the sum of all the white male musicians in the world by the total number of white male musicians, and it is only by rising above that description can Sheeran truly earn his fame.