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For & Against: Ed Sheeran

18 July 2017

FOR: by Harry Baker

Ed Sheeran is a serenading, ginger god who has descended from the heavens to conquer the musical world.

Rising to fame in 2010, Sheeran now has three albums under his belt and has become one of the biggest names in pop music. He consistently sells out stadium tours, despite performing solo with his acoustic guitar, and has become the most streamed artist of all time on Spotify.

And although Sheeran remains massively popular, people continually point to songs like ‘Shape of You’, ‘Sing’, or ‘The A Team’ as a way to discredit his music as ‘crappy pop’. However, it’s clear that his music is far more encompassing and has moved beyond catering only to the pop genre. In songs like ‘Don’t’ and ‘Runaway’, Sheeran takes elements of pop and R&B, and mixes them with his witty and ingenious lyrics to make something fresh. He appeals to the more tender side with love ballads like ‘Kiss Me’ or ‘How Would You Feel (Paean)’, and even dabbles in rap with songs like ‘Take It Back’ and ‘Eraser’. Sheeran is certainly not just a pop musician – he’s proved himself to be capable of adapting and mixing genres to his own style.

He’s also a master of live performance, using a loop pedal to create backing tracks and beats with his guitar. Arguably, Sheeran’s music improves when he plays it live. If you need proof, go watch a video of him playing ‘Drunk’ to a crowd of 90,000 at Wembley Stadium. Still not convinced? How about his 2015 Rock In Rio performance of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’ featuring snippets of 50 Cent and Iggy Azalea? Or maybe his beautiful performance of ‘Give Me Love’ in 2012 at the Live Room for Warner Music?

Even if you’re not a fan of his music, you might be a fan of a song that he wrote for someone else. Unbeknownst to many, Sheeran has written a variety of hits for other artists, most notably Justin Bieber’s ‘Love Yourself’, but also songs for One Direction, Rudimental and The Weeknd.

But forget the music for a second, because without any of it Ed Sheeran still remains one of the easiest people to like in the music industry. He’s been labelled as the ultimate ‘nice guy’, but certainly not in the negative sense of the phrase. You can watch any interview with him to see someone who is genuine, honest and just downright fun.

But at the end of the day, even if you don’t like Ed Sheeran or his music, you certainly can’t deny his talent as a songwriter and a powerhouse of the modern day music industry. His music is here to stay – just wait, in 20 years time you’ll be browsing throwback playlists filled to the brim with Ed Sheeran.

 

AGAINST: by Daniel Beratis 

Ed Sheeran’s face makes me see red. Not just because he’s got red hair – which is fine, red hair is great – but where do I start with the trainwreck of a cultural dumpster fire that is Edward Sheeran? Where do we begin with Edward Christopher Sheeran?

I mean, God. There isn’t even that much significantly wrong about Sheeran’s earlier music. Plus, and, to a lesser extent, Multiply, are both your fairly stock-standard indie folk albums, filled with the same six guitar chords under a whining vocal – and that’s not whining in the sad sense, just in how it sounds – and that’s fine. If you’re into that, that’s fine. Quality of the genre aside, that’s fine.

But Edward C.S. truly boils the blood with Divide. He truly makes the heart absolutely want to throw up. In pre-release interviews, Mr Sheeran admits that he wasn’t writing Divide to say something, or to make nice music, or for fun, or whatever. No, he writes songs based in part on if they’re “Radio 1 songs” or “Radio 2 songs”. As he told radio host, Chris Evans, this “comes into the equation”, writing songs not for any artistic purpose but for commercial benefit.

May God help me.

Oh, he’s relatable. He’s adorable. Whatever. None of these things actually mean anything if the persona behind it all doesn’t exist for any reason apart from anodyne existence. And it casts his entire discography into disrepute, because what is he here for, if not to make music? If his focus is how his songs will play on commercial radio, what’s the bloody point?

This is an argument on selling out, and it doesn’t even touch on why I, personally, can’t stand Ed Sheeran. I don’t like his voice. I don’t like his face. I don’t like how he carries himself and I don’t like his music. Call me a hater, because I am, but I’ll be screaming Lorde’s Melodrama at 3am while drunk in a side street and loving it, and how the everloving heck are you supposed to scream ‘Castle on a Hill’?

I’m just thankful, I am just so thankful that he’s chosen a dumb way to name his albums. Plus. Multiply. Divide. Those are his first three. All he’s got to go is Minus, Exponent and Parentheses and he’s done. He can’t torture us anymore. He’ll be finished. And the long national nightmare can end.