Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Ed Sheeran – The A Team

Played over 300 gigs in a year, apparently. Musicians are lazy enough for that to matter, apparently…


Alex Ostroff: Much like Just Fishin’, I really wish that this song didn’t make me so angry, because Sheeran has a beautiful voice and the ability to paint entire scenes with a handful of words. Unfortunately, those words form a song that’s all about appropriating the experience of female sex workers, drug addicts and the homeless in order to elicit sympathy and pity and feelings from listeners. Some might argue that he’s calling attention to their plight, but he could at least pull a Gaga and donate a percentage of proceeds to one of the many organizations that help street youth in the UK. There’s a lot to like about Sheeran, so hopefully next time he’ll release a single that isn’t so emotionally manipulative and exploitative.

Iain Mew: Lyrically this is extremely clunky at times. The title pun is bad enough, but “It’s too cold outside for angels to fly/An angel will die” is worse, because there is literally no need for that second line to exist. What it loses in subtlety there, though, is compensated for by a rather gorgeous and startlingly spacious arrangement. It refuses to go for any obvious musical escalation or hysterics, and as a result if you don’t listen to the words too hard it manages to carry off a surprising amount of grace and depth of feeling. It helps that Ed sounds like a superior Damien Rice and stays sensibly well within the limits of his voice.

Edward Okulicz: Easy to dismiss this as too much James Blunt or Tom McRae, and definitely an out-of-nowhere bit of either grassroots or a superb bit of record company Astroturfing, but on its own merits, it’s not even remotely objectionable. That is, if you’re willing to tune out the lyrics and appreciate the fact that sometimes a tastefully arranged bit of acoustic moping can hit the spot if it’s not sung too preciously and the tune stays in your head. Just this once, I’m willing. But it’s this close to overkill when you have a nicely downtrodden little melody and you stage a sympathy/pity party on top of it.

Doug Robertson: This is not what a song called “The A Team” should sound like. I’m seriously tempted to get him charged under the Trades Description Act so that he can get sent to jail for a crime he did commit. Anyway, it’s acoustic whiny, yawniness which would be embarrassing at your local open mic night, let alone on an actual physical release.

Jonathan Bogart: Finally! A cute boy with a guitar takes Real Music to the debased slag heap that is the UK pop chart.

Katherine St Asaph: The Script’s discarded footage finally sees the light of day!

Michaela Drapes: I was in the midst of writing this off as some kind of Plain White Ts-meets-Damien Rice photocopy with a dash of Lily Allen’s snarky phrasing, until I caught on to the lyric, and completely fell apart. That was a moment, which, I think, ultimately reveals the root of Sheeran’s success. “The A Team” fits right in to the canon of British downer drug songs; not to make light of the subject matter, of course. There’s a very fine line here between preachy and melancholy that’s very easy to cross, and Sheeran pulls off this modern day morality tale without a hint of hackneyed sentimentality, which is admirable indeed.

Zach Lyon: I will not try to vouch for the value of his individual lyrics, as I know they are quite bad. And the music is perhaps nothing more than one of the sweeter turns on the Scrubs best-of soundtrack. But I will defend the content itself, as, despite the slight fetishization of the addict, he seems to write as if he knows her well enough, personally, to write a sympathetic and desperately aching song for her. Maudlin, corny though it may be, it hits me hard.

3 Responses to “Ed Sheeran – The A Team”

  1. This song has one of the worst sets of lyrics (qua lyrics) that the Jukebox has ever seen. Ugh.

  2. “Unfortunately, those words form a song that’s all about appropriating the experience of female sex workers, drug addicts and the homeless in order to elicit sympathy and pity and feelings from listeners. ”

    But that’s what songwriters do…?

  3. I expected a song about the real A-Team.

    This is terribly disappointing, seriously. Why would you call a song “The A-Team” and then have it be about drug addiction and the homeless. Why would you do that.

    It’s not a bad song, as guy-with-a-guitar stuff goes – he has a decent voice, a nice sense for music, and enough restraint to keep the song from getting overly maudlin or schmaltzy as so many songs of this type do. Despite the grim subject matter, it doesn’t feel like he considers the song’s ‘importance’ or ‘seriousness’ enough to carry it through; nor does the song become smug, obsessed with how casual it is. It’s well put-together; it’s surprisingly assured and mature, actually. It strikes a surprising balance. I honestly liked it much more than I thought I would.