Not in the same class

by Rick Johansen

There’s nothing better, or worse, if it’s you, than being exposed as a fraud. I was exposed as a fraud at a music quiz I went to not that recently, knowing, as I didn’t, anything that was in the current or even recent charts nor any of the artists who have gone on to fame via TV talent shows like The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent. My fabulous knowledge of music, via myriad genres, was nothing of the kind. I knew a lot about a little and not a lot about a lot. I’ve never been invited to one since. Reading the online* Observer today, my sheer ignorance about modern music was exposed in a review about cuddly pop superstar Ed Sheeran.

I have nothing against Framlington’s finest export. I just don’t like his music. That’s not to say he’s crap because to millions of fans, he’s a genius, just him, his guitar and his loop pedal. The review of his Royal Albert Hall show made interesting reading.

I find this country of mine gets a bad reputation of being cold and grey.” No shit, Sherlock. From the seat in my man cave, I couldn’t think of a better description. It’s cold, grey and it’s pissing with rain. That’s nothing to do with reputation. It’s fact. So, Sheeran is dealing in gobbledegook, here. But the reviewer takes things into another world altogether.

Looking for a new England, Sheeran’s newfound national elegies put him in a lineage of songwriters that includes Ray Davies and Billy Bragg,” says Fergal Kinney. Frankly, there’s no need for that. At least Kinney doesn’t actually compare them. To the best of my knowledge, Sheeran has not yet written anything that’s remotely comparable to Davies’s classic Waterloo Sunset, Sunny Afternoon, Lola, You Really Got Me, Autumn Almanac or Bragg’s A New England, Levi Stubbs’ Tears, Between The Wars, Sexuality and To Have And Have Not. “I’m in love with your body (Oh-I-oh-I-oh-I-oh-I) I’m in love with your body (Oh-I-oh-I-oh-I-oh-I) I’m in love with your body (Oh-I-oh-I-oh-I-oh-I),” doesn’t quite do it for me. But who can fill any stadium on the planet? But on the same page as Davies and Bragg? I don’t think so.

Confession time. I didn’t even know the title of Shape Of You, never mind any of the words, and I had to employ the services of Mr Google in order to provide the above segment and I really, really hate the song. This is, in all likelihood, because Ed’s stuff is aimed at younger, more open-minded and less blinkered folk than me or because it’s easy listening fodder when you’re preparing breakfast or taking a dump. I certainly equate the latter to everything I have heard by him.

I’ve done my research on Ed Sheeran. He seems to be a decent enough chap who makes music loved by millions of undiscerning people who don’t like music. THAT’S A JOKE, before you get angry with me. It takes all sorts, but let’s not put Ed Sheeran on the same page, not even the same book, as Ray Davies and Billy Bragg.


* I have just discovered that online is spelt online and not ‘on line’ nor ‘on-line’. After all this time, mind.


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