At Idolator, the editors share a passion for high-quality pop. Occasionally, our tastes align. Other times, not so much. So, in the spirit of debate (and online drama), we’ve developed a recurring feature called Pop Perspective. In a nutshell, our editors dissect a particularly noteworthy pop-event, and give it a rating out of 10.
That way you’re getting a full spectrum of views and we can all vent. (It’s cheaper than therapy!) The latest tracks to be dragged under the Idolator microscope belong to Ed Sheeran. Does the ginger pop God land a one-two punch with dual ÷ singles, “Shape Of You” and “Castle On The Hill,” or has he slightly missed the mark? Read our thoughts below.
Robbie Daw — 5/10 (“Shape Of You”) and 2/10 (“Castle On The Hill”)
Oh, perfect — it’s double the blessings from Boy Taylor Swift at the top of 2017! Has it really been three long years since we last heard new music from you, Ed? It feels like there are still traces of you in the 379 songs you’ve written for other artists still floating around out there. Well, come on in and have a seat at the big table once more.
So what do we have? Tropical Ed riding that trendy 2015 wave with “Shape Of You”? Oh, god, they’re gonna LOSE THEIR SHIT over this at the frat party, bro! And Stomping Milquetoast Anthem Ed with “Castle On The Hill”? You know, it’s a real shame American Idol is over, because, Ed — helluva a contestant-exit banger, am I right?
Alright, later, man — catch you at the stadium with TayTay and Gigi and Karlie, boss!
Rachel Sonis — 6/10 (“Shape Of You”) and 4/10 (“Castle On The Hill”)
“Shape Of You” will probably get a Sean Paul remix and be a huge radio hit. I mean, if “Cheap Thrills” can do it. As for “Castle On The Hill,” I get that it’s supposed to be a classic, sweeping Ed Sheeran anthem™. But this didn’t do a lot for me. It tries so hard to be something akin to U2’s “Where The Streets Have No Name” that it ends up sounding painfully forced in the process.
Carl Williott — 5/10 (“Shape Of You”) and 5/10 (“Castle On The Hill”)
Two seconds into “Shape Of You”: Oh great, he decided to bring the flaccid dancehall-pop trend with us into 2017.
Two minutes into “Shape Of You”: He never should’ve pivoted to cool pop guy sounds, because it just comes off like a vague mashup of all the other songs doing it better (see also: “Sing”).
Two seconds into “Castle On The Hill”: OK fine the Edge-y guitars are luring me in.
Two minutes into “Castle On The Hill”: Look, I get it, there’s a market for Grey’s Anatomy soft rock, and this is a well-executed version of that. It’s just not for me. If you’re a tad vexed that Sheeran is a megastar, this won’t provide any answers.
Mike Wass — 5/10 (“Shape Of You”) and 8/10 (“Castle On The Hill”)
Wow, everyone’s a hater. For me, Ed Sheeran is still a song by song proposition, but he gets it right (“Thinking Out Loud” and “Photograph”) more often than not (“Don’t”). As for his latest offerings, let’s just get “Shape Of You” out of the way. I could have lived my whole life without hearing Teddy belt out a sexy, dancehall anthem. Having said that, it’s catnip for pop radio and will probably sound a lot better after your third shot.
“Castle On The Hill” is more like it. I prefer Ed in reflective, balladeer mode and he dresses up his signature sound nicely with sweeping guitars that lift the record to a sweet spot between U2 and Snow Patrol. Think of this as a more upbeat “7 Years” (without the suicide-inducing lyrics). The chorus could be a little punchier, but I’m very much looking forward to hearing this wherever soft rock is played.
AVERAGE SCORE: 5.25 (“Shape Of You”) and 4.75 (“Castle On The Hill”)