Tuesday, September 7th, 2021

Ed Sheeran – Visiting Hours

This screencap: beatific light of praise or harsh judgment of the Jukebox’s gaze? Perhaps it’s both…


Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Having already conquered high school slow dances and weddings, Sheeran now wants to expand his domain to encompass even the gateway between life and death. Who will stop him?

Nortey Dowuona: One of the funniest things of the past decade has been watching Ed Sheeran go from being a well-liked but largely innocuous singer-songwriter who was hanging with grime artists on SBTV to the harbinger of the end times in service to the Demon Spotifidiel. But in all this, his music eventually stagnated and withered, his gift wasted on making flat trifles and occasionally beautiful and riveting songs. But for once, he’s used his gift to create a truly riveting tribute to impresario Michael Gudinski, the founder and CEO of the Mushroom Group, a huge business which had nine live entertainment branches, one of which Ed must have used, and the two of them became such good friends that Ed wrote this for him. It’s kind of funny that the best song Ed has written and sung in years is for a massive music impresario, but I guess that’s the 2020s for ya.

Austin Nguyen: Ed Sheeran’s Pinterest-ready stomp clap hey-ification arrives nine years late, much like the current ongoing apocalypse that should’ve happened then to prevent me from hearing this.

Juana Giaimo: I never really liked Ed Sheeran’s ballads, but there is a country feeling here that is nice. However, I wish the bridge wasn’t just him mumbling — in fact, I think the song could finish just before that — and that the whole song didn’t feature so many backing vocals. It gives such a formal solemn feeling: quite cliché for a grieving song. 

Michael Hong: “Visiting Hours” takes Sheeran’s grief and tries to transform it into a grand pop spectacle, a commercial showing for a private funeral. The production is too sanitized to convey its grief and the choir vocals swallow any meaning, until you realize that through Sheeran’s lyrical universalness, there never really was much beyond standard mourning. His grief and his words feel devoid of substance, being far too easily transferrable. “Visiting Hours” lacks a sense of involvement to just feels like grief commodified — a pay-to-view obituary, the type of greeting card that uses the word condolences.

Thomas Inskeep: In the future, dictionaries will feature a photo of this single next to the word “mawkish.”

Al Varela: My bold statement is that Ed Sheeran is one of the best songwriters of the past ten years, and songs like “Visiting Hours” are why. As easy as it is to make fun of him, part of why he’s persisted for nearly a decade is because he’s painfully honest and transparent as a person. “Visiting Hours” was written as a coping mechanism after Ed’s close friend Michael Gudinski passed away, and you can tell this was a major loss for him. He fantasizes about visiting him up in heaven and catching up on his life since then. Ed confines in Michael his insecurities and struggles because few people really understood and taught him as much as Michael did, and the thought that he’ll never get to see or talk to him again is almost overwhelming. But he also knows that it’s probably for the best. He can’t rely on Michael forever, and everything he was taught will carry on in Ed’s spirit as he strives to become the best person he can be. Maybe even one day become the person he sees in Michael. All of this combined with the gorgeous orchestration behind him makes this one of Ed Sheeran’s best-ever songs. 

Andrew Karpan: Everyone who’s interviewed Ed Sheeran likes to say that he knows — a verb that carries a kind of cosmic significance — anticipating the eyerolls his kind of shtick attracts in order to deliberately cast them aside. But his knowingness takes on a greater and almost admirable quality when inspecting the effort he puts into manufacturing the worst song of his career, a record whose brassy badness and groaning conceits are the very tools with which they are built and the plastic purpose with which it is issued. Counting pop songwriters is cliché and rarely insightful — and there’s no doubt half of these people are on there because he clumsily copped their riff — but there’s something almost scary about imaging Shreean’s management asking six people to collectively furnish the bottom rung of the man’s catalog, a song with a maudlin insistence Sheeran himself can barely perform without collapsing in tears. But I would too: it’s industrial strength grief.

Alfred Soto: Of course the woman in the song exists partially to validate the Ed Sheeran character’s self-worth, but the “partially” does a lot of work. The well-deployed sparseness — little acoustic bits rippling away from the singer — and its melodic strength imply that the “you” was worth the trouble. When Ed Sheeran’s good at this shit, I get mad.

Reader average: [9] (1 vote)

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3 Responses to “Ed Sheeran – Visiting Hours”

  1. Waiting on the official update but… I think this might be the year’s controversy champion (and top 10 all time!) https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TzXxuFPHqbkpvvTkU5O6LcOiUUgU99e8blxswtwCuXs/edit#gid=423943441

  2. I agree with Al Varela. He’s written some really good songs. I think that in 20 years there will be critical revistitation on Ed and people will think he was great and not just pop schlock.

  3. Hello! Yes, this is the controversy champ of the year so far (I’m only through Sep, updating it today). #6 of all time after Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” Welcome, Ed!