In Defense of Ed Sheeran

In Defense of Ed Sheeran

Marley Brock, Author

Fear not, Sheerios: I’m here to say that Ed Sheeran deserves every bit of the remarkable success that he’s achieved over the years.

Sure, his lyrics may not all be the incredible, tear-inducing poetry that, say, Lana Del Rey’s are.

And maybe they don’t make a political statement or deal with some huge emotional trauma. But what’s wrong with that? Isn’t there a place, especially in our modern politics-ridden society, for some regular old happy (or heartbroken, or lovesick) music?

“What Do I Know” might propose a slightly idealistic solution to the world’s problems, but who decided that musicians have to have a fully fleshed-out, practical theory behind their songs? What’s wrong with a little bit of blind hope? (And in case you didn’t notice, Sheeran is quite aware that people won’t take him seriously: every optimistic chorus ends with a dry “but what do I know.”) Are you really going to criticize him for not having serious enough music and then attack him again when he brings up a valid point — that music can change lives?

He epitomizes the singer-songwriter in a way that few modern musicians do. First off, he actually plays his instrument proficiently, which in today’s world is never a sure thing. He also actually sings and writes his own songs.

And a good half of the magic is seeing him perform live. If you haven’t been to one of his concerts, imagine watching this unassuming guy in jeans and a t-shirt stand up on a stage in front of an arena full of people, with nothing but a guitar, a microphone, and a loop pedal, and play or sing every part of every song by himself — harmonies, melodies, everything — and realizing that they honestly sound just as good, if not better, live. In my humble opinion, that should be enough to convince just about anyone.

He’s down-to-earth. His Instagram is littered with photos of his cats, Dorito and Calippo. As I already mentioned, he performs in jeans and a t-shirt. He names his guitars and loop pedals. (Apparently one of them is named Michael.) He’s basically the music nerd next door, except with almost 20 million Instagram followers.

And is there anything wrong with that? Maybe he shouldn’t necessarily have won at the Grammys this year. (Although, given that he wasn’t even up for the “big” awards, why are you griping so much?) Maybe “÷” isn’t his strongest, most amazing album ever. But even with all that, Sheeran is still a good artist and has worked hard to get to where he is today. Why begrudge him for his success?