The many faces of Ed Sheeran.
A lot of people didn’t like Ed Sheeran’s Game of Thrones cameo. But he was getting plenty of hate even before he arrived in Westeros.
His fame—and the backlash—grew as he shifted from the acoustic pop ballads of his first album to the full-on party jams of his third album, ÷, released in March. The GoT appearance just pushed the hate over the edge.
Here’s him talking about the strong reaction over his recent hit "Galway Girl," which for some reason mixes Irish folk music, pop, and hip-hop.
"I’ve actually never felt this much hate in my life, but also I’ve never felt this much adoration," he told Q Magazine earlier this month. "There’s two extremes. It’s actually quite a dangerous situation to be in because you’ve got no middle ground, which I haven’t had before. People either f—— hate me and want me to die and never make music again or people think I’m the second coming."
I can’t emphasize enough how much I hate ed sheeran (hate is a very strong word so I mean it when I say it)
— kyle kardashian (@kme82695) July 7, 2017
What’s going on here? Why, as my managing editor would say, all the "Sheeranfreude?"
Maybe it’s his music
At the very least, he’s a good singer. His Game of Thrones appearance was distracting in part because his voice sounded so great.
And yes, many of his songs are bland, maudlin, and oversaturated with sugary hooks. But that describes a lot of pop music.
Maybe it’s just that people are sick of hearing him on the radio. "Shape of You" is currently number five on the Billboard Hot 100, and it’s pretty hard to escape. Yet, the artists above and below him on the chart, DJ Khaled and Bruno Mars, don’t inspire the same amount of animus.
Or people don’t like his face
Ed Sheeran looks like "Rupert Grint cosplaying Dashboard Confessional." He looks like a "potato." According to Google’s autocomplete, he looks like … a baby?
You’d think the fact that he doesn’t look like a male model would be a good thing. Yet somehow, his normal-ness is a strike against him.
Image: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images
Still, I feel like that doesn’t explain why he inspires so much hate …
He’s a ‘nice guy’
Sheeran gets slammed for being a "nice guy"— not an actual nice person, the kind of man who complains on Reddit about getting "friendzoned." In Playboy, writer Chloe Stillwell talks about what she sees as Sheeran’s "toxic masculinity" problem:
When you date an underdog, he’ll gleefully go down on you for hours and tell you you’re the best sex he’s ever had—until you break up with him, after which he’ll call you a slut on Facebook. He’ll twist your words to prove you’re evil and post images with other women on Instagram to get your attention. In Ed Sheeran’s case, he’ll write reductive revenge songs that are low-key misogynistic while slurring in interviews about all the women who’ve been kind enough to fuck him.
Michael Tedder from Pitchfork published a similar rant against Sheeran:
The archetypical Nice Guy Song tends to go something like this: I am a wonderful, sensitive snowflake, noble and pure, but you do not see this, as you have been tricked by this shallow, shallow world and by what’s his name with the pecs. I am nice and special, and I deserve to have you, and by have you I mean have glorious, glorious sex with you, because, again, I am nice and special, and one day you will see what a dumb bitch you are being, and until then I’ll be waiting right here.
This is a real problem, of course. He sings a lot about how various women have wronged him, while at the same time bragging about how easy it was to hook up with one of Taylor Swift’s friends.
And then there’s this lame joke he tweeted in 2012 and then later deleted:
"Men getting ready is throwing on a t shirt, underwear and jeans. Women, please learn from this, it shouldn’t take an hour to dry your hair."
And while there’s no excuse for misogyny, it’s not like he’s the only male artist who’s guilty of this. Replace the words "Ed Sheeran" with "Drake" in the above columns and they still work.
Yet people seem to have a special hate for Sheeran … which brings us to John Mayer.
Wait, do I feel personally threatened by Ed Sheeran?
I have to admit, I was guilty of Sheeranfreude. I laughed when people made fun of him for his Game of Thrones cameo.
Then I started thinking about why I didn’t like him. I instantly compared him to John Mayer, who’s also widely reviled by a large portion of the internet.
While Sheeran and Mayer have both said terrible things and make questionable music, the same goes for Pitbull, and I don’t really have any strong feelings about him.
There’s something about the sensitive cad — the hot dude with a man-bun, the guy with an acoustic guitar — that seems especially threatening.
Maybe the fact that he’s totally cheesy and still is more successful and popular than I’ll ever be struck a nerve.
So, I apologize to you, Ed Sheeran. You just be you.
But also this song is kind of terrible.