Ban Ed Sheeran

Last weekend, Ed Sheeran caused a fair bit of controversy that wasn’t entirely of his own making.

The singer-songwriter’s third album, ÷ (Divide), is the No 1 album in charts in the UK, US, Australia and around Europe after becoming the fastest-selling album by a UK male artist.  I heard a stat that went something like the album outselling the rest of the top 500 albums in the UK chart put together.

The problem with this was that all 16 songs from ÷ were in the UK Top 20 singles chart.

Back in the day, I used to enjoy buying singles.  I used to go to the record shop on a Friday afternoon after uni to buy a couple of singles on CD.  You used to get 3 or 4 tracks on one CD for £3-4.  They would either be original tracks or acoustic versions of previous releases or, occasionally, a remix.

Buying a single actually felt like voting, like putting your backing behind your favourite song.

Even in those days, though, there were rules.  Buying every copy a shop had of the single in one transaction only counted as one sale.  If you were a groupie, you needed to make loads of individual transactions if you wanted to make sure your favourite artist didn’t have any records left on the shelf, thus depriving others of the chance to buy it.

Nowadays, there are more rules, not least because the CD single doesn’t exist outside of Christmas specials for charity.  A download counts as one sale as does 150 streams of the song on something like Spotify or Apple Music.

It’s this streaming that did the job for Ed.  The problem is that streaming can be quite a passive thing because listeners will select playlists rather than just albums.  Playing a playlist isn’t necessarily an indication that that particular song is one of the most popular because it wasn’t an active choice.

It’s a first world problem, but some people who still care are suggesting that there should be a rethink about how the singles charts are built.  One thought was to up the number of streams that count as a sale, or else cap the number of streams from one individual as a sale e.g. if they listen to a song 20 times, that is one sale, but if they listen to it 320 times, it’s still only one sale.

If it were me, I’d redefine what a single is.  They used to be fairly promotional to encourage you to buy the album as well as introducing you to some other interesting things.  Either artists could nominate a single (which would be quite hard for those of them no longer with us) or else only their highest selling song of the week should be allowed in the singles chart.

Of course, the other thing to do is just ban Ed Sheeran.  Damn him for being popular!

I took the supermarket flowers from the windowsill
Threw the day old tea from the cup
Packed up the photo album Matthew had made
Memories of a life that’s been loved

Took the get well soon cards and stuffed animals
Poured the old ginger beer down the sink
Dad always told me don’t you cry when you’re down
But mum there’s a tear every time that I blink

Oh I’m in pieces it’s tearing me up but I know
A heart that’s broke is a heart that’s been loved

So I’ll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go
And when God takes you back
He’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home

I fluffed the pillows, made the beds, stacked the chairs up
Folded your nightgowns neatly in a case
John said he’d drive, then put his hand on my cheek
And wiped a tear from the side of my face

I hope that I see the world as you did cause I know
A life with love is a life that’s been lived
So I’ll sing Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum
When I fell down you’d be there holding me up
Spread your wings as you go, when God takes you back
He’ll say Hallelujah, you’re home

Hallelujah, you were an angel in the shape of my mum
You got to see the person I have become
Spread your wings and I know
That when God took you back, he said Hallelujah you’re home

Supermarket Flowers by Ed Sheeran

Comments 1

  1. Liberty Henwick

    At least he has put Wexford, Ireland on the world map!

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