Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ed Sheeran goes Strictly Ballroom

Growing up is rubbish. Earlier today, my son had a major tantrum at school when he had to put away a toy train and learn maths. Poor thing. He doesn't realise it's only going to get worse.

Ed Sheeran's got a few years on my four-year-old but he's still finding out that life sucks. His second album, x, is more world-weary, more cynical, more bruised than his multi-platinum debut. The tales of hotel room hanky panky in Don't are great tittle-tattle, but a broken heart beats beneath them.

Ed Sheeran - Don't

On the flip side, Ed has come of age in his writing if not his love-life. The sleek, uptempo singles have shown he can hold his own with producers like Pharrell (not entirely unexpected given his previous flirtations with hip-hop) but one song stands head and shoulders above the rest.

Thinking Out Loud is a big old love song ripped straight from the classic English songbook. In fact, it's basically When I'm 64 without the cloying sentimentality. And the reason for that is Sheeran's vocal performance. "Darling, I will love you until we are 70," he sings with a shredded larynx Joe Cocker would have been proud of.

More than anything, the song is the sound of a writer flexing his muscles for the first time and realising he can punch above his weight. Thinking Out Loud is Sheeran's Somebody Like You. It's that good.

He's obviously proud of it, too. For the first time in the X campaign, he stars in the video. And what a video - with Sheeran spinning his partner around a ballroom with unexpected grace (and an even more unexpected waistcoat).

And, for bonus pop points, it fits into a videographic template for British male artists unveiling a big ballad - from Robbie ice skating on She's The One to Will Young getting his goggles on for Friday's Child.

It's a 10 from Len.

Ed Sheeran - Thinking Out Loud

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