THE RETURN OF ED SHEERAN
Ed Sheeran’s success as a pop star has always been a bit of a head-scratcher to me. As a pop writer, I get it – he’s got an undeniable ability to tap into the current zeitgeist and crafts a 3-minute earworm as well as anyone this side of Sweden – but as a performer he just seems sort of vanilla. Shows you what I know.
This morning, he released two singles from his upcoming album, Divide. Let’s give ‘em a listen.
“SHAPE OF YOU”
Of the two songs Ed released, “Shape of You” is the one getting the most attention. In fact, it’s safe to say a bona-fide internet freakout is in full effect over this rather innocuous pop song. He initially intended to give this song to Rihanna, but decided to keep it for himself.
There’s no way this song could be anything other than a massive hit. With its faux-marimba hook, lyrics about “da club” and being “in love with your body”, this song would have worked for any of the megastar pop artists Ed has penned moneymakers for. He may have intended it for Rihanna, but to me it sounds like it would have worked better for Drake. It’s a decent song, but it’s way too formulaic. This tune holds no surprises whatsoever and is interchangeable with any number of mid-tempo songs consciously written to be hits. You’re gonna love it for a few months and then forget how it goes.
2 out of 5 stars
“CASTLE ON THE HILL”
The second single released today is “Castle on the Hill”. This is a much more interesting piece of music than “Shape of You”. It’s more organic, more exciting and much more honest. There’s quite a bit of Mumford & Sons damage here, but Sheeran makes it work without seeming too derivative.
Lyrically, Ed sings of the Suffolk countryside and romantic, youthful nostalgia. He’s mining a vein that’s not too far removed from Tom Petty or even Springsteen. The imagery may be less dark, but the sentiments aren’t very far off. If an Ed Sheeran gig consisted of more songs like “Castle on the Hill” and fewer like “Shape of You”, I’d go see him every time he toured.
3 out of 5 stars
Of the two, “Shape of You” will be the bigger hit because of course it will.