The Listener

Truly godawful: Ed Sheeran's = (Christmas edition)

18 December 2021

9:00 AM

18 December 2021

9:00 AM

 Grade: C=

My wife’s ill with Covid and demanding inexhaustible libations and difficult meals, which she will leave uneaten. The dog thinks it deserves a walk in the filthy sleet. The kitchen is a tip and the bins need emptying. I have a headache, a runny nose and the ghost of a ticklish cough. Can things get worse? Yes, yes they can. It’s The Spectator on the phone. Can you please review Ed Sheeran’s new album? As in: look, you’re feeling rough and put upon at the moment. So can we come round and smash your spectacles and rub human excrement in your hair? And all this a few weeks after they foisted on me the woke caterwauling exoskeleton that is Adele.

Oh, he seems a nice enough bloke, Ed. His awful, wheedling, whining, effete and utterly unmemorable songs have made him the world’s biggest pop star — nothing I have to say matters. A truly godawful ‘Merry Christmas’ single written in tandem with his elderly soulmate Elton John (mistletoe, tree, roaring fire, happy Christmas everyone, etc.) is emetic enough. The rest isn’t even emetic. He makes Keane resemble Motörhead. There are two cute tunes — ‘Visiting Hours’ and ‘The Joker and the Queen’. He attempts, unconvincingly, a kind of rock stomp on ‘Tides’. Elsewhere we have autotuning, because he knows he must, and sub-1980s EDM, sometimes with plucked faux-strings, as on ‘Shivers’. The lyrics are devoid of wit, insight, introspection and, crucially, interest. The melodic hooks are terribly slight and yet winsome enough to give him another bunch of hits. I can’t bear it; maybe you can. Obviously somebody can or he wouldn’t be Britain’s great gift to the world. Poor world.

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