Culture Editor Leah Renz gives a different perspective on Ed Sheeran’s new single ‘Shivers’


I’ll be honest, I came to writing this review with evil intent; I was going to diss Ed Sheeran’s latest single. For the sake of accuracy – and refreshing my dislike – I re-listened to the song. But that’s when the trouble begins… I admit it: the first plucky beats of ‘Shivers’ had me wiggling my shoulders. And things just became catchier from there; by the time the chorus had hit, my fingers had started clicking.

I suppose the confusion begins when one watches the YouTube video alongside the song. The opening shot, of an American-style saloon wreathed in blue with a red neon sign, is promising. I always enjoy late-night bluesy lighting. The split-screen coffee-stirring shots are also cool. Then Ed Sheeran’s hair suddenly begins expanding from his scalp and streaming behind him and I wonder if I’ve missed something. Moments later, when his lover’s face is pasted onto the front of a train, Thomas the Tank Engine-style, I am forced to confront the fact that the visuals are far too interesting for such a generic pop tune.

This song follows an almost aggressively average formula

Don’t get me wrong, I love pop music as much as the next Capital FM listener, however this song follows an almost aggressively average formula. It is so average that I would argue it even had potential as a sardonic, self-aware jab at the music industries’ constant attempt to release catchy radio hits, or, increasingly, charting tik tok tunes. The satire would have been complete had the visuals not so clearly attempted to demarcate a leap into something more experimental.

And unfortunately, whilst it’s certainly a new sound for Ed Sheeran, it’s not anything new for his listeners. This observation is the crux of my criticism. On a first listen, ‘Shivers’ really isn’t too bad. It’s when you hear it again, perhaps for the fourth time in the background of an H&M somewhere, that it slowly dawns on you that there is genuinely nothing of note throughout the entire song. The beat, which initially was so catchy, is now gratingly repetitive, and Ed Sheeran’s voice, previously so smooth and melodic, is now just boring and under-showcased against the electro instrumentals.

It does however offer a great backdrop for a mindlessly fun boogie

The best part of the song is when the instrumentals are stripped back, and Sheeran’s voice is allowed to take centre stage with only percussion claps in the background. This moment can admittedly only be created with the exuberance of sound which precedes it; however, it is difficult to suppress a groan when the main bouncy chorus returns full blast for what feels like the 20th time within four minutes.

Overall, I would argue that ‘Shivers’ contains no musically creative moments and suffers from a beat which, whilst incredibly catchy, renders the tune categorically un-listenable beyond the tenth time. It does however offer a great backdrop for a mindlessly fun boogie, provided it is sampled in moderation.

Rating: 4/10


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