Ed Sheeran is known for his ability to take the slow-jam, first-dance-at-a-community-center-wedding ballad mainstream.
Why was he the one, of all the talented singer-songwriters out there, who managed it? It's hard to say. But he did, and now he's out of tricks, but it literally doesn't matter. No. 6 Collaborations Project, the new album from the world's luckiest red-head with a guitar, is full of duets and features and feels almost like a brag, as if Sheeran is saying, "Look at me, I got every major name in music to be on this shitty album, and you're going to listen to it because I'm mother f**king Ed Sheeran and you're enslaved to my vocal runs." And he's right.
Essentially: Remember Sheeran's 2017 hit "Shape of You"? Want an album of that 15 times in a row, but a little worse than the original, and with a different teen-favorite artist featured on each version? That's Ed Sheeran's new album.
In a movie, when an "international pop sensation" is introduced as a character, the audience expects and receives lukewarm pop songs as evidence of the character's musical brilliance.Of course, in reality, the songs were written quickly and carelessly by a busy movie production team operating on a deadline. But still, we buy the supposed "brilliance" of the songs as part of the movie magic; we suspend our disbelief willingly and pretend that the songs played in the concert scene of the movie are exceptional to support the accepted fame surrounding the artist in question. The point is that every track on Ed Sheeran's new album could be one of these songs.
What You Get from Each Song:
"Beautiful People Feat. Khalid:" Music to walk around a budget grocery store to.
"South of the Border Feat. Camila Cabello and Cardi B:" An anthem for 16-year-old boys who decide to go to Cancun and are a little racist about it (Can we say "caramel thighs" any more?)
"Cross Me Feat. Chance the Rapper and PnB:" Ed Sheeran's that awkward white guy unsuccessfully trying to dance at the party he wasn't really invited to.
"Take Me Back to London Feat. Stormzy:" Eddy boy, you and Drake need to leave grime alone. LEAVE IT ALONE.
"Best Part of Me Feat. YEBBA:" A reminder Ed Sheeran is better at being Ed Sheeran than Jason Derulo. Still, only okay.
"I Don't Care With Justin Bieber:" Neither do we, Ed.
"Antisocial With Travis Scott:" Okay, but what's the rule for who gets a "with" vs. a "Feat."? Do you have to have banged one of Kendall Jenner's friends/sisters?
"Remember the Name Feat. Eminem and 50 Cent:" It's rare to hear an auditory depiction of a half-hearted pissing contest.
"Feels Feat. Young Thug and J Huss:" Allow this to be a reminder to go listen to Calvin Harris' song of the same name.
"Put It All On Me Feat. ELLA MAI:" This adds to the difficulty of knowing if you've actually hit "next song" or not.
"Nothing On You Feat. Paulo Londra and Dave:" L.A. gave us Nipsey Hussle, New York gave us Tupac, London gave us...Dave?
"I Don't Want Your Money Feat. H.E.R.:" Don't lie, you're in it for the money. On some level, we all are.
"A Thousand Nights Feat. Meek Mill and A Boogie Wit Da Hoddie:" When Meek Mill says he parties with Ed Sheeran in the verse, you can hear the regret in his voice.
"Way to Break My Heart Feat. Skrillex:" Has Skrillex been castrated?
"Blow Feat. Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars:" Digging rock music's grave ever deeper.
Conclusion: "No. 6 Collaborations Project" is as soulless as its title.
Superfluously: What the f**k is this album even about? Is there any kind of cohesive theme? Is the theme just manufactured emotion? If so, you'd think Sheeran could at least pay for the creation of a more authentic experience?
Unnecessarily: Cardi B deserves better.
Finally: Support real, human singer-songwriters.