I’d managed to somehow avoid having to listen to Ed Sheeran’s two new released up until just now. Don’t ask me how – I’m not a musical hermit, the radio’s usually on in the background – but there had clearly been a force field shielding me, protecting me, keeping me safe. Unfortunately, the veil has been lifted. Even I couldn’t justify writing this week’s View From The Top if I hadn’t even heard number one and number two.
Out of the two tracks, Castle On The Hill is the least audibly offensive. It’s a shame that it’s the lower charting entry. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter which way around the two are – Sheeran has such a tight grip on the top of the charts that if he released another track right now (if you’re reading this Ed, don’t you dare) it would probably ping straight to third place. As it was, Castle On The Hill didn’t cause me physical pain to listen to. The lyrics are “relatable” so we align ourselves with Sheeran, the local lad that he is. Man of the people, reminding us that he too is a mere mortal. Look, I’ll admit that his lyrics have a simplicity to them that is appealing, but for me it’s immediately overshadowed by a complete lack of sincerity. I never believe any of these humble-brag songs. “When I was six years old I broke my leg.” For all I care that lyric may as well be, “When I was in third grade a thought I was gay,” or Lukas Graham telling us what his ‘momma’ told him when he was seven years old. All of these songs are the same, basically J-Lo’s Jenny From The Block but far more boring.
So on the one hand we have Ed Sheeran, your mate from school who’s got a new car and tells everyone he drinks Guinness because he likes the taste. And I’m supposed to believe that on the other hand we have Ed Sheeran, sex god? After listening to Shape Of You I’m finding it difficult to believe that Sheeran has seen a woman naked, let alone had sex with her. This song is terrible, and another step down the yellow brick road of Sheeran attempting to become a ginger Guildford Justin Timberlake. It’s the address of this song I take the most issue with. He croons, “Come on, be my baby, come on,” far too many times. Ditto “I’m in love with your body,” and “I’m in love with the shape of you.” Just what shape is that exactly? If you ask me – which, granted, no one actually is asking me – the only shape Ed Sheeran loves is the division symbol, his latest cash crop.
However, I don’t contest their place in the charts. When James Arthur spent three weeks at the top, I was seriously unsure who was buying or streaming it. This, I believe. Facebook went mad when these songs were released. I don’t believe Ed Sheeran’s dual boy-next-door/global superstar persona but plenty of people do. At least the charts are actually reflecting public opinion for once, I suppose.