08 August 2019, The Tablet

The sound of a business plan?


The sound of a business plan?
 

Ed Sheeran:No 6 Collaborations Project
Asylum/Atlantic

Staff at my local whisky bar have been trained to press fast forward whenever a certain track comes on, as it does every 20 minutes. I’ve no idea why Ed Sheeran’s “Galway Girl” reduces me to such pointless fury. It’s as inoffensive as the man himself appears to be.

By the time the single, a bouncy pop tune with a folk twist and a hint of Western swing, came out in 2017, Sheeran was already doing damage to pop demographics. His first three albums, known simply as +, x and ÷, have sold in eye-watering numbers and conjured a series of firsts, fastests and mosts.

There have already been box sets, promotional coups (such as the marketing of Heinz Tomato Edchup), and half a dozen appearances “as himself” in films and TV shows, with “character” parts in Game of Thrones and The Simpsons.
Why the animus? Well, Sheeran’s output has started to look more like a business plan than an evolving body of work. He has promised/threatened to bring out a record of collaborations for some time, and now he’s done it with the curiously titled No.6 Collaborations Project.

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