Want to be more popular? Ask yourself: what would Ed do?
If we acknowledge that the current criticism of Mr Sheeran may be, at least in part, due to jealousy, is it better to wonder what lessons Ed can teach the music industry and musicians generally?
He is clearly the right man for these times, one who can straddle pop and ‘RnB’ whilst keeping a semblance of credibility, hanging with the right icons and failing to offend the majority.
That’s the superficial stuff. He is a singer-songwriter in a singer-songwriter dominated industry. One who understands the power of song to make connections, a story teller with a populist eye.
His songs resonate with a wide audience, old and young. Universal themes and generic melodies that are standard and traditional. The big selling stars of the current music business are those who have cross-generational appeal, something achieved by acknowledging the past-masters.
To some people, I know that will seem like an apologist’s summary for trite and all-too-familiar songs and structures. It is no exaggeration that I listened to ‘Divide’ once and recognised similarities with many pre-existing hits. Accusations of plagiarism are best left to lawyers, for now we only need note that Ed rules the roost and that should be good news for British music.