Wednesday, July 7th, 2021

Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits

Controversy as heavy as his eye makeup…


Austin Nguyen: Leave it to Ed Sheeran to drain any glimmer of danger, compulsion, abandon, tension, thrill inherent to one-night stands and replace it with the snarl and lust of, uh, fake fangs. Which, to be fair, is a better (or at least more well-fitting) brand of horniness than whatever John Grady shit he was on before, but the problem remains one of commitment, in more ways than one: If Ed Sheeran is losing control, his world imploding of all words to use, I sincerely hope it takes more than a single thumping bass and brooding Post Malone/The Kid LAROI guitar riff to cause ruin.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: A feckless, Kidz-Bop-ified, white-washed Weeknd knockoff. You’d think they would have at least had the decency to change the jacket color in the music video.

Thomas Inskeep: I thought there was no possible way the Red Menace could make his music more bland, more generic, more utterly nothing. But I was wrong, of course.

Alfred Soto: If you prick a white guy, does he not bleed? Maybe. Or so I’m told. Anyway, the keyboards nod toward “Smalltown Boy,” the attitude to The Weeknd, and the vocal approach to a former college pal who complained about the chicks who wouldn’t fuck him despite his skepticism about dental hygiene. 

Will Adams: About four years ago I planted a seed of Ed Sheeran pivoting to a career as a trance vocalist, and wouldn’t know you it: his new single sounds like Armin Van Buuren doing pop crossover. Stretching into his upper register, Sheeran manages a decent take on the late night brood set against a shimmery pulse. The bland lyrics keep him from reaching evocative heights quite like Daya or Becky Jean Williams, but as far as genre change-ups, there were worse directions for him to go, and I’m perfectly fine with this choice.

Nortey Dowuona: If only trying to give a fuck again was fully in swing. I mean, it’s less embarrassing than the entirety of the last 2 albums but at least they prompted so great writing about how much of a conniving, cynical shill Ed Sheeran is. This song just makes me feel bored and annoyed I even liked “Bloodstream.” 

Al Varela: As a longtime Ed Sheeran apologist, I find very little to complain about with this song. I guess you can call it “generic,” but that’s really dismissive of the infectious melody and groove of the hook that sells the inner darkness of the song while still giving the facade of “fun” on the dance floor. Ed is no stranger to these kinds of dark impulses and bad decisions, and while I prefer past instances of this kind of material (“Bloodstream” and “Dark Times” with The Weeknd come to mind, maybe even “Antisocial” with Travis Scott), I still find this song getting stuck in my head all the time. As a retail employee who is starting to loathe the cheery, faux-inspirational canyon pop that my job plays all the time, I will gladly welcome this depressing but catchy song with open arms.

Scott Mildenhall: What does it mean to be a Normal Guy in Abnormal Times? Wearing an England shirt beside Beckham in the Royal Box should do it, but if not, run-of-the-mill regret to recognisable rhythms retains a resemblance to a standard smalltown boy’s weekend. Generic it may be, but it’s a step away from bland, and to be enjoyed while it lasts — precedent hints that the dirges await.

Edward Okulicz: Invoking (or even repurposing) that “Small Town Boy” cum “Wicked Game” riff is a great trick. This doesn’t pound as hard as September, wring as much pathos as Linda Sundblad, or rise to the exquisitely camp heights of Brandon Flowers, but it’s still a great trick. The song is only okay to reasonably good, but it’s probably already Number One where you are, so the best way to deal with it is to recognise what it does well — the chorus of two halves is another great trick. Maybe this entire song called “Bad Habits” has the secret novelty that it’s comprised entirely of bad habits itself.

Andrew Karpan: Our generation’s most well-intentioned song-and-vibe thief had put on one of those recent Phoebe records and figured, for good reason, that a man of his acoustic talents could pull such a thing off himself. And he did. Not a great take per se  — like, say, Maroon 5, Sheeran’s career is tightly wrapped around the idea of carefully avoiding greatness — but more disappointingly is the total lack of confidence behind the board, where Sheeran’s voice is, instead walloped with a barrage of anonymous drums that cause his voice to, at times, inadvertently fade into itself. 

Reader average: [4.14] (7 votes)

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3 Responses to “Ed Sheeran – Bad Habits”

  1. An online friend of mine believes Ed Sheeran should face trial ( for the plague Shape of You unleashed on family friendly workplaces and radio stations, and as such I have bad news for him, because Bad Habits is to 2021’s dominant style of dance music – Lithuanian Bass, or Slap House if you are a European DJ who remixes MLK speeches and calls it social justice – what Shape of You was to 2017’s dominant style, Tropical House. Both are a watered down version of the overarching subgenre that’s non-distinct enough that their instrumentals could go in an IBM ad, and both are written in a way that does not clearly place Ed Sheeran, the “folk singer dude”, as the narrator, but rather literally anyone who happens to be singing, unlike much of his albums. So, sorry to say Arin and anyone reading who works in a retail store, but have fun hearing this 4 times a day!

  2. deeply love that the score for this is 4.20

  3. fun fact the first concert i ever went to in HS was an ed sheeran concert (he opened for Snow Patrol) and he hugged me after the show

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