A View From The Top #70

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Sunday 5th February 2017

Surprise, surprise, for the fourth week in a row, Ed Sheeran’s acoustic R&B-esque creation Shape Of You reigns as the number one spot. What’s number two, you may ask? Ed Sheeran, again, with Castle On The Hill. Shocking, truly.

Both Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill are two perfectly adequate singles. But, that’s kind of it. They’re just… Okay. Nothing special. Generic. Ed Sheeran’s year-long hiatus and social media disappearance built so much suspense that maybe anything would have been a disappointment. Essentially, both tracks sound like a parody of Sheeran, or a copycat, a result of Sheeran’s success, not Sheeran himself: the spunky-but-sweet guitar-wielding rap-singing guy-next-door we have come to know and love.

Let’s start with Shape Of You. The song is catchy, no doubt about it. But, it sounds more like a memory of Sheeran’s past glory; the single is very reminiscent of +’s You Need Me, I Don’t Need You or x’s Don’t. The lyrics are raunchier than the Sheeran I remember and he sings, “I’m in love with your body / And last night you were in my room / And now my bed sheets smell like you.” Très, très suggestif. Maybe this is meant to show his evolution as an artist, the ageing of his sound, his so-called growing-up. Sadly, in reality, it sounds like Sheeran taking advantage of his own success.

Castle On The Hill is my least favourite of the two; the song has less punch, more cheese. The track dreams about romantic snapshots like watching the sunset and driving fast and jamming to music. Sweet? Yes. Original? No. My lasting impression is how much the song really, really, really sounds like some kind of One Direction hit from 2013. I mean, I knew Ed Sheeran and Harry Styles were friends, but this a little too far.

Now, I have one thing to admit. After listening to both Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill maybe 100 times to write this column, I gradually found myself putting both songs on repeat not just for the sake of A View From The Top, but simply because I wanted to hear Sheeran’s raw and heartfelt voice sing to me one more time. Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill may not be groundbreaking or special, but Ed Sheeran definitely still is. So, don’t rule him out just yet.

The rest of the chart hasn’t changed much since the last time I wrote this column. I spot Rockabye by Clean Bandit and Anne-Marie, which was number one a few months ago, still holding on to a spot in the Top 10. I’m almost surprised the combined star power of Taylor Swift and Zayn in their collaboration I Don’t Wanna Live Forever for Fifty Shades Darker hasn’t reached higher than number 13 yet. Overall, the chart is just more of the same.

P.S. One more thought: does anyone else think Shape Of You’s verses sound eerily similar to Bastille ft. Ella Eyre’s mashup of TLC’s No Scrubs and Angels by The XX, or is it just me?