It appears that Ed Sheeran would like to be an artist now, thank you very much. He guested on fellow Brit singer George Ezra’s inaugural podcast this week, the reasonably titled George Ezra & Friends, and talked about shredding up the pop formula on his follow-up to his 2017 album, ÷.
“The next record that I’m making is not a pop album,” the Game of Thrones star told Ezra. “The reason it’s not a pop album is people expect you to come and the next album they’re going to be like, ‘It has to be bigger than ‘Shape of You’ and it has to sell more than this.’”
So, he’s rapping? (“End Game” is great, if we’re being honest):
“But if I control it and I’m like, ‘Here’s a lo-fi record that I really fucking love,’ my fans are gonna be like ‘Yay!’, and the pop world are gonna be like ‘oh well, maybe the next one.’”
Ah, so Ed’s ready to cozy up to the mic and let some tape hiss in, is he? The back half of that quote is a pretty insane argument that the biggest pop stars in the game often make, subscribing to this illusion that their fans and the pop world aren’t one amorphous being, but who am I to say! He’s been seeing his pop colleagues get slapped with crippling criticism—while still selling a shit ton of records—so maybe, he reckons, he’s next. Honestly though: if he put out, like, a free jazz single, it would probably still chart highly, even if he lost a sizable chunk of casual fans.
But fear not, he’s getting inspiration elsewhere: “My whole career I’ve studied Coldplay—Coldplay are fucking geniuses,” Sheeran said. “[2014's] Ghost Stories was their artistic moment, where they just brought it back down. They controlled it.”
Ghost Stories is probably their worst album, yes, but there are far worse places you could draw inspiration from than the kings of earnest maximalism. Meanwhile, here’s Coldplay’s true artistic moment, for Ed and anyone else who doubts their talents to study: