Not content with topping the album charts this week, Ed Sheeran has laid siege to the singles charts with his newly-released third album. He now has numbers 2-6, 8-15, 18 and 19 to go with the long-standing success of chart-topper Shape Of You. The hype surrounding Divide has been extraordinary, and if it continues this column may need to consider dividing the charts into ‘with Ed’ and ‘without Ed’ to give other artists a chance. As it is, my job is to find something new to say about a song that is fast approaching One Dance-levels of dominance.
It might be because I don’t listen to his music enough, but my first thought was that this is different to the other songs I’d heard by the ginger pop behemoth. It sounds like an audition tape to feature on a poor pop-EDM song by DJ Snake or Sigala or someone equally crap. If Shape Of You has done well, imagine the mass hysteria that would ensue if Avicii’s unique button-pushing skills were thrown into the mix. The generic lyrics and catchy loop point to a smash hit, which is what Ed has produced once again. There’s something about him you can’t help but like; he’s not endowed with charisma, or confidence, or even personality, but it works in his favour - it must do, as he’s probably bigger than the Beatles ever were by this point. He’s tapped into a seemingly limitless source of fame and success, and this song is only going to keep that streak going.
When the guitar joins the computer-generated loop and bongo-type percussion, it sounds a lot more like the Ed Sheeran I was expecting, and the way he harmonises with his own high-pitched voice makes a cool effect, better than if he’d used backing vocalists. The song talks about going to a bar, not a club, because they’re bad for finding lovers apparently, and hooking up with a girl, who it seems has got a good figure because Ed is in love with the shape of her. No surprises, nothing particularly illuminating. It’s just a classic pop song; it could be the Chainsmokers or Disclosure, albeit with a better singer than they normally manage to get.
The themes and lyrics are very similar to Drinking From The Bottle and Miami 2 Ibiza by Tinie Tempah, and probably loads of other songs that have begun to blend into one by this point. If it sounds like I have a problem with Ed Sheeran, I don’t. Castle On The Hill is a great song. Why isn’t Castle On The Hill number one? It has a lot more personality to it than the slightly soulless Shape Of You, and is more heartfelt as a result. However, since the Radio 1 chart show currently sounds like Greg James has gone onto Ed Sheeran’s Spotify page instead of his usual playlist, the fact that Shape Of You is still number one shows it’s the highlight of a very popular album for most listeners. Indeed, only Oasis’ damp squib Be Here Now and Adele’s 25 have shifted more copies in their first week since release. Ed Sheeran is very much the flavour of the month at the minute, so if this is the song his multitudes of fans think is most worthy of the number one spot, so be it.
Congratulations on your accomplishments Mr. Sheeran, but hopefully you’ll learn to share by next week.