Ed Sheeran Does The Sing & Rap Thing On Killer New Single
Remember last time pop music was good? Like good in not just a guilty pleasure way? That was probably the last time Pharrell was at the top of his game… Now, in 2014, we are in the middle of the era of the of the 2nd coming of Pharrell and Ed Sheeran is his newest disciple. Sing is a seamless blend of everything that makes Ed loved by most and begrudgingly respected by the rest of us, and Pharrell’s flawless, force you to move rhythm and love affair with falsetto vocal will have Timberlake spewing he didn’t get a look in on this track. Cry me a river Justin, welcome to the table Mr Sheeran.
Recently whilst reading “Alice through the Looking Glass” I realised that like all great books it has quite a bit more to say than what appears just at face value. Consider this passage for a moment …
'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.'
'The question is,' said Alice, 'whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
'The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'which is to be master — that's all.'
Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’
'Would you tell me please,' said Alice, 'what that means?'
'Now you talk like a reasonable child,' said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. 'I meant by “impenetrability” that we've had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you'd mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don't mean to stop here all the rest of your life.'
'That's a great deal to make one word mean,' Alice said in a thoughtful tone.
'When I make a word do a lot of work like that,' said Humpty Dumpty, 'I always pay it extra.'
'Oh!' said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.
'Ah, you should see 'em come round me of a Saturday night,' Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side, 'for to get their wages, you know.'
-Through The Looking Glass- Lewis Carroll
It made me reflect that there was a time when Pop Music hadn’t been ashamed to be considerably smarter than it seems to be in the world of Pitbull. Certainly that time still gave birth to simple platitudes like F.R.David’s “Words (Don’t come Easy)" but we readily dismissed this as “Euro Pap” never thinking Boyzone and a million “Voice” contestants would draw on it as “great catalogue” in years to come.
But there really was a time when chart hits embraced complex lyrical ideas and conceits and it was smart to be … smart. And NME journalists responded with structuralist analysis, linguistic philosophy, comments about post-modernism and other clear entries in pseuds corner. It was a time when musicians played with complex ideas and critics (especially NME legends like Ian Penman, Paul Morley, Tony Parsons and Julie Burchill) answered them in a pseudo-intellectual intelligent way and everyone embraced WORDS happily.
And I have to say there’s a part of me that yearns for singles as lyrically smart as these three:
Tom Tom Club’s funky word play (with its clear allusion to the great poet)
or this by Scritti Politti – a straightforward meditation on Foucault set to music
or even ABC – “if you judge a book by the cover, then you judge a look by the lover”
Are Words (& ideas) really something to be frightened of?
Today the 26th of June sees the 3 year anniversary of the death of the King of Pop, 25 years since the release of ‘ Bad’ and 23 years since I received a ‘limited edition bath towel with full length, soul glowing, side profile spectacular! ‘Bad’ cover shot in linen for my 8th birthday.
Walking around the changing rooms at junior school I was filled with immense pride. It was great for a rub down and a security blanket and statement of intent , visually saying to any passing bullies ready to go for the towel whip that, “I’m Giving You On Count Of Three, To Show Your Stuff, Or Let It Be… I’m Telling You, Just Watch Your Mouth, I Know Your Game, What You’re About.
I’d often imagine dealing with the scenarios above like the kids in the video below -
The towel vanished after the summer of 89 which I originally thought was a snatch and grab by Henry Jones (Sorry for calling you a thief and a poo face and I was the one who ripped your Bobby Brown poster). The loss was probably a good thing as if I had kept it through secondary school, I may not be here writing to you now! It was only recently discovered again by my mum in the back of the ironing cupboard, and when I was informed of a possible reunion, I experienced a mix of contempt and nostalgia and very recently when a rare MJ B-side called Don’t Be Messing Around was unearthed I felt exactly the same.
But pondering this on the day of his death, I will pin my colours to the proverbial mast, and hang my towel to the changing room peg.
I could play my bullshit card and say I only ever listen to Pink Floyd and obscure Latvian punk nowadays because I’m so cool. Though honestly, In my eyes he’s still the King, the first single I bought was Leave Me Alone, first album was Bad , I cried when there were no copies left of Moonwalker to rent at the video shop and after watching it I bought the computer game, I still listen to Dangerous on a regular basis, especially Who Is It? I still listen to Bad and Speed Demon is still one of the funkiest bass lines I have ever heard, I know the Black and White rap and wish I’d gone to Neverland!… His name seems to be a dirty word, and when was the last time you heard someone meet up with you and say ‘I’ve been listening to the Bad album this morning!’ or cranking out Just Good Friends in the car!, it only seems acceptable to enjoy Billie Jean when drunk at weddings and parties! He may not be considered ‘cool’ anymore but the man has epic hit after epic hit and next time my iPod shuffles onto a obscure track, I’ll immediately turn it up not down!!
Look… One day he may be replaced by a new King of Pop but Usher, Beiber, Timberlake?… I wouldn’t even use them as face cloths!!