A View From The Top #71

by Srinandini Mukherjee

Yes, I know you’re probably annoyed that Ed Sheeran is still at the top. Yes, it’s a bit frustrating when the top two singles of the charts remain unchanged for five weeks. Yes, I know there’s only so much you can say about a catchy yet somewhat simple pop song in five separate columns. Besides the numerous covers and mashups which have popped up on YouTube, and a surprisingly unique yet disappointing music video featuring Sheeran in a sumo-wrestling suit, nothing has changed since my review from four weeks ago: Shape Of You has been thoroughly listened to, loved and judged by the world, and there’s not much more I can add to the mix.

What I would like to do however, is point out why I am so pleased with Sheeran’s success in the current pop industry. Let’s take a look at some of the artists who have been the subject of this column over the past year- Drake, Bieber, The Chainsmokers, Little Mix, Clean Bandit - just purely judging them on the music they put out, are any of them capable of performing without depending on the glamour and glitz of costumes and lighting? Sure, they can sing, but what percentage of it is autotuned? One thing you know you always have with Ed Sheeran is raw talent, a quality which, nowadays, isn’t a necessity for the charts. Everything he sings is _his_ effort, without being altered technologically- his live performances are proof of this and it’s a refreshing change.

We’re in a year (or maybe one of many years) of depressingly mass-produced singles, almost all of which follow a foolproof formula to be “enjoyed”. Admittedly, Ed Sheeran doesn’t break out of this mainstream too much, Shape Of You follows the same upbeat, dancehall, seductive vibe as many others before it, and Castle On The Hill, is thematically clichéd. And yet, I feel like he still manages to innovate on these tracks. It could be his varied vocals, or maybe his attention to lyrical detail; something besides the catchy tunes makes it hard for me to get sick of his music. To quote Ylenia Schardt from last week, “Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill may not be groundbreaking or special, but Ed Sheeran definitely still is.”

People could argue that regardless of this, Shape Of You doesn’t deserve five weeks at the number one spot. I can’t say I disagree - regardless of how great any song is, five (and let’s face it, probably more) weeks at the top is quite a stretch. That being said, isn’t it better to have someone with skill and talent at the top rather than another Drake autotune? Look at the rest of the charts - Jax Jone’s You Don’t Know Me, The Chainsmoker’s Paris, Starley’s Call on Me… The top ten is slathered in catchy synth instrumental breaks and false vocals.

Until something more original and someone with an equal amount of genuine talent comes along, I, as someone who likes listening to Top 40 music am happy with Sheeran’s current position in the charts. But as a writer for PearShaped, I can only wonder what I could possibly say about Shape Of You or Ed Sheeran in a month or so, when it’s still in the same spot.