MUSIC

The Legacy of Kanye's "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy"

The rapper's magnum opus turned 10 years old over the weekend.

It's almost eerie how accurately Kanye West predicted his own fate when he uttered the words "I miss the old Kanye" on 2016's The Life of Pablo.

In my head, and likely in the memories of many others, there are two Kanyes: a then and a now. Both are cocky, self-important, certifiable jerks, but then, he at least still felt a marginal need to continue proving himself.

Now, he's so immeasurably detached from reality that it's a little hard to take anything he does or creates seriously—at this point, I find it difficult to even care. I don't want to explicitly cite a certain presidential election and its aftermath as the dividing line between the Kanye of then and now in my conscience, but...yeah, Kanye rubbing elbows with Trump was pretty much the last straw for me.

Keep Reading Show less

The debate over Ed Sheeran's talent has been raging on for years.

"He falters along this blurry gray line where he is always straddling two states of being," wrote Vice. "At once charming and un-charming, a banger machine and anti-music, good at pop and bad at it, annoying and irresistible…" the list goes on.

Known as "The Sheeran Effect," Ed Sheeran's cheesy brand of buoyant love songs has been a moneymaker for the music industry since the ginger's inception into mainstream success in 2011. "The art of the former couch surfer's appeal when he emerged in 2010 was that he had little in common with the deity-like singers who had been occupying the charts before his arrival," wrote The Guardian. Sheeran's appeal was in his unappealing tendencies. "He growls with the fervour of a 26-year-old man desperate to be sincerely identified as an infant."

Celebs Who Want Absolutely Nothing To Do With Ed Sheeran www.youtube.com

Sheeran's global domination is no accident, and it definitely doesn't have anything to do with talent—though he'd love it if you thought it did. In an interview with Chris Evans, Sheeran was asked whether the disparity between "Shape of You" and "Castle on the Hill," the singer's first new singles in over 3 years, was coordinated on purpose to appeal to two different types of mainstream listeners. "It definitely came into the equation," Sheeran said. "Everyone said [Castle on the Hill] was a Radio 2 single and we need something for Radio 1. So your theory is correct."

In The Beautiful Ones, Prince's newly released memoir, which he was working on vehemently before his death in 2016, the late and great artist all but confirmed Sheeran to be one of a few tried-and-true weapons of the music industry: totally accessible pop, all gimmicks, no substance. "We need to tell them that they keep trying to ram Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran down our throats," he wrote. "And we don't like it no matter how many times they play it."

In fact, Sheeran is so universally despised that everyone from Mashable and Pitchfork to The Guardian and Slate have dedicated entire articles to unearthing the reason for the universal disdain directed at him despite his on-paper success. Every publication is eerily similar in its execution as they discuss everything from his "offensive inoffensiveness," his "tofu music," his "staunch refusal to 'glo up'" to his neediness and inability to communicate with his romantic partners. Sheeran's career would (hopefully) sink without the help of Big Brother, but as mounting accusations of plagiarism threaten to derail Sheeran's "nice boy" image, it seems like he's finally about to be revealed as what he truly is: an industry plant manufactured to cater to the lowest common denominator. Prince can rest easy knowing that authenticity will always triumph in the end.

MUSIC

"No. 6 Collaborations Project:" Ed Sheeran Is a Mediocre Wedding Singer. Why Do We Love Him So Much?

We're enslaved to his inoffensively pleasant voice and middle-of-the-road songwriting.

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.