Ed Sheeran’s newest album X, pronounced “multiply,” hit shelves worldwide on June 23 as a follow-up to +, an album released in 2012 featuring hit songs “A Team” and “Lego House”. The British songwriter’s newest album strays from his usual acoustic-folk sound, giving X a more raw and dark feel. Many of the songs in X incorporate rap, hip-hop and R&B. Sheeran’s new sound can be partly attributed to Pharrell Williams, who collaborated with Sheeran on some of the songs in X, including “Sing.” The refrain in “Sing” “Sing—louder!” is so catchy that you might find yourself still humming its tune hours later. “Sing’s” funky sound is reminiscent of Justin Timberlakes’s “Rock Your Body” from the album Justified which Sheeran notes inspired “Sing.”
While Sheeran successfully pulled off a pop-inspired sound effortlessly, some argue about his use of rap in “The Man.” It’s understandable that some people might say Sheeran needs to stick to acoustic and stop trying to be “edgy,” but there is something admirable about Sheeran’s brazen determination to touch on multiple genres. Sheeran’s rap isn’t traditional, but rather sounds similar to The Streets’ “Blinded by the Lights,” which better matches Sheeran’s voice and even adds an endearing quality to his music when paired with softer vocals.
There is also honesty throughout X that allows listeners to connect to Sheeran’s songs. In “Nina,” Sheeran writes about “taking a break” from a relationship, and in “I’m a Mess” he describes, “drinking to suppress devotion,” sentiments that many 20-somethings have experienced. Yet, Sheeran is never crude. In “Don’t,” Sheeran sings about a girlfriend cheating, referring to drinking and sex, yet he manages to keep his lyrics clean, unlike most songs.
Although most of Sheeran’s album takes on a different tone than usual, some tracks still touch on his original style, incorporating melodic tunes. However, it looks as if Sheeran’s BFF Taylor Swift influenced him a little too much, because many of these songs risk being sappy. The line in “Photograph,” “Loving can hurt, loving can hurt sometimes/But it’s the only thing that I know” makes the song seem like one you’d listen to after a breakup while crying over a pint of ice cream (or maybe that’s just me). And of course in the song “Nina” Sheeran had to slip in the clichéd line “you are beautiful without your make-up.” However, the majority of songs on X are still well written and catchy, while relating to real-world experiences, differentiating them from other pop songs. You can view Sheeran’s album X in its entirety on Spotify.
Edited by Valerie Reich
Editor's Note: The tracks on this album that are great are truly fantastic pieces of musical work. I would venture to bet that this album will win awards in this upcoming award season. Top 10 albums of the year at least.
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