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The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

On the beat: “=” by Ed Sheeran

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GRAPHIC: SADIE HENZES ’24/THE HAWK

Ever since “Shape of You” dominated every radio station and retail store back in 2017, Ed Sheeran has been a huge name in the music industry. After releasing “Bad Habits” as a single back in June, he dropped his latest album “=,” pronounced “equals,” a continuation of his math-themed album titles, on Oct. 29. 

Strangely enough, given how big of a star Sheeran is, this album’s release seemed quiet, at least to me. I had seen little discussion when this album was released. Likewise, my expectations were not high, and they were barely met. 

“=” feels less like an album and more of a compilation of singles. The songs don’t seem to connect in any way, and they all feel like they were made for the radio. 

This is especially apparent in a song like “2step,” with its hip-hop inspired instrumental. It feels very similar to recent hip-hop hits, such as Lil Tecca’s “Ransom.” In fact, if he released this song, I think I would like it a lot better. Sheeran’s version just sounds dorky.

While most of the songs aren’t necessarily bad, a lot of this album is bland. The lead single from this album, “Bad Habits,” feels like it was intended to be played at a dance club because of the plucky bass and hard-hitting kick drum in the chorus. The issue is that the song has low energy, which turns the club beat into a boring instrumental.

Sheeran is well-known for his calmer, more acoustic songs, and that’s where he has some success on this album. Though I’m not a fan of the lyrics, I really liked the guitars and strings of “The Joker And The Queen” and “Visiting Hours.” I also enjoyed the acappella chorus of the album’s first song, “Tides.”

For whatever reason, I don’t like the quality of Sheeran’s voice, and I’ve never been able to explain it. But on this album, a few highlights were the melodies and the harmonies on some of the songs. When Sheeran opens his range a bit more, rather than sticking to three or four notes, he can make some pretty good melodies.

As a whole, this album is bland, boring and pretty forgettable. In that way, the album seems trivial because I’ll probably never listen to it again, and eventually forget about it. I might hear one or two of these songs on the radio, and that will be fine. They’re Ed Sheeran songs, and they pretty much “equal” my opinion of the rest of his discography.

 

RATING: 5/10

FAVORITES: TIDES, THE JOKER AND THE QUEEN, VISITING HOURS

LEAST FAVORITES: BAD HABITS, LEAVE YOUR LIFE, 2STEP

 

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