Funny, isn’t it, how I haven’t reviewed an Ed Sheeran song yet, considering how he’s Mr Big Cheese and all that right now? Let’s change that by reviewing “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran, who I should say is having a humdinger of a year. So rest assured, Ed Sheeran fan(atic)s, that any negative comments I might make about his music here – even in the unlikely scenario that he should stumble across and read them – are probably not going to derail his happy train. Should they do so, I’ll be more than happy to help get it back on track through some experimental dance.
First impressions: So this song, barring the midweek charts, is currently the official UK number one single? Huh. Can I ask sincerely, why is that?
The music: I’ll be honest, this isn’t the first attempt I’ve made at reviewing Ed Sheeran’s music. I had a stab at “Don’t” a little while back, only to find that there wasn’t enough to talk about to warrant a full review. Now I’m tackling “Thinking Out Loud” which… I… er… this might be a shorter review than usual.
A sparse (and I mean sparse) acoustic guitar arrangement provides a dreamy, bass-less undercurrent for Ed Sheeran’s crooning vocals, the effort clearly being made to evoke a campfire level of intimacy… and that’s it. No, seriously, that’s it. Think somewhere between his collaboration with Taylor Swift and that “Beneath Your Beautiful” song from a couple of years ago and you have “Thinking Out Loud.” As for the melody, imagine wind. Just a quiet gust of wind. No, that’s too violent; think more like a really, really light breeze. No, not even that, a sigh. A protracted, three minute long sigh – and not a sigh of relief or contentment. No, I’m talking a sigh of utter soul-crushing boredom: there’s nothing on TV, the internet’s down, you’ve read all your books, done all your work, it’s raining and you haven’t got the money to go out. That is what it feels like to listen to “Thinking Out Loud”.
I have to ask, who thought this song was worth paying money for? Like, who heard this on the radio or on YouTube or wherever and thought, “oh man, I just have to have this in my life”? You know the random, directionless tunes you hum to yourself off the top of your head while you grate cheese or compare paint samples at B&Q? I’ll bet they’re more complex and emotionally stimulating than the melody here.
Needless to say I am completely dumbfounded as to how this song got to number one. It’s simplistic, soft and romantic but also dull, clichéd and totally unmemorable: how do its listeners even remember it long enough to know that they want to buy it? Eh, whatever – I’ve exhausted everything I can say about the music here. Let’s move on.
The lyrics: Ed Sheeran is addressing his lover (because who else is he ever addressing?) with the affirmation of his lasting love: “darling I will be loving you till we’re seventy.” At which point presumably he’ll just cut you off entirely, because dumb lyrics are dumb.
The rest of the song winds off into various romantic platitudes: “take me into your loving arms / kiss me under the light of a thousand stars / place your hand on my beating heart”… this is Pop Songwriting 101 right here, except eventually the session ended and Sheeran couldn’t be bothered taking any of the follow-up classes. There are cocker spaniel puppies less tame than these lyrics.
“Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?” Aw, come on, dude! What did you have to go and say that for? Why couldn’t she remember the taste of your kiss or something more specific? Now I’m picturing some old biddy in her cardigan, rocking in her chair and trying to remember what your love tasted like and I’ve never felt so ashamed of myself.
“Maybe it’s all part of a plan? / I just keep on making the same mistakes, hoping that you’ll understand.” What sense does that make? “I’ve got it: if I just keep making mistakes and looking like an idiot, she’ll feel bad for me and then she’ll have to stay with me!” This is either emotional abuse or the worst plan ever conceived by a human being.
“I’m thinking out loud / maybe we found love right where we are.” As opposed to finding it where you aren’t? “Hey look, I just found some love online. Any idea how we get to Buenos Aires from here?” Also, “found” and “are” are different tenses. Pick one and stick with it.
Verdict: It’s not that bad, I guess. It’s not all that good either, though. It just seems like album filler that was put out as a single by mistake. Unremarkable, but solidly so. 2 or 3 out of 5 – whichever one you like this time. I’ve already forgotten the song, so I’m no-one to look at here.
Today’s double-up is “When I’m Sixty-Four” by The Beatles, which also makes up for me putting “You Know My Name” in as a double-up a few reviews back. Good luck getting this one out of your head, by the way.