No. 6 Collaborations Project Review- More Than Six Shades Angry

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Personally, I don’t fancy myself a fan of modern pop music. There are some days when I want to crank up the Top ‘40s station on the radio and play some up-beat songs, I admit it, but only some days. However, Ed Sheeran’s new album, No. 6 Collaborations Project, exemplifies almost every grievance I have with the genre at the moment. The only aspect more infuriating and degrading than repeatedly listening to this album for a review is that, due to it being a collaboration album, I have no idea who to blame for this dissatisfaction. Released on July 12, 2019, it debuted at No. 1 on the US Billboard 200. The album consists of 15 tracks, all of which feature at least one collaborator.

Let’s talk about the rough bits. This album is in no way, shape, or form a unique album. The topics bounce around among fame, sex, swagger, and insecurites. The song “South of the Border,” featuring two of the most prominent female pop artists in the industry, Camila Cabello and Cardi B, is a very sensual song. This is fine (there are lots of sensual songs out there), but it is executed in a very, very poor way.  The lyrics overall are maddeningly nonsensical and to illustrate, take a lyric from the mouth of Ed Sheeran: “She got the, mm, brown eyes.” This is a milder example, but this is how the song opens. What exactly, I ask, does “‘mm’” mean? Is it dismissive? Appraising? Both? Even if it is unimportant to what it is trying to be said in the song (as it is probably a filler syllable), its presence cheapens the song’s quality. There are many other examples in the song that, even after multiple readings, I cannot understand what was trying to be said. They simply just do not make sense. 

Another major issue I took with the concepts of the songs was the topic of being socially insecure. This might be a strong word for what is reflected, but it was discussed in varying forms in some of the songs (“I Don’t Care” and “Antisocial” being the most notable). Understandably, fame can lead to toxic consequences. Regardless of this, these topics are used not to provide a meaningful conversation but to add to an aesthetic. Many of the songs on this album refer to the success of those on it and Ed’s success during his Divide era. He does not delve into his possible struggles, only referring to them to seemingly add to an edgy, misunderstood, golden-boy-turned-rapper persona. Ed Sheeran has a dominating presence in the pop industry, and it drives me nuts that this is how he uses possible topics that could mean something to the majority of his audience. 

Normally, I would pick my top five songs off the album, but honestly, I do not think I could even pick that many. Even with the songs I can stand, there is always something that annoys me. Surprisingly enough, songs like “Cross Me” (featuring PnB Rock and Chance the Rapper) and “Remember the Name” (featuring Eminem and 50 Cent) are two that I really enjoyed despite their heavy leanings to hip-hop (a genre that I tend to steer away from). Despite my grievances with the song “Antisocial” (featuring Travis Scott), I actually enjoy the beat and vibe of the song. In fact, I was pleased by a lot of the beats and instruments on the album. “Way to Break My Heart” (featuring Skrillex) was a pretty standard pop song, but the electronic influences brought by the feature made it stand out. It had a tender tone, too, and overall, the song just worked for me. 

“BLOW” (featuring Chris Stapleton and Bruno Mars) quite literally blew my mind. What do you get when a pop star, RnB artist, and country singer come together for a song? You get a thumping, pumping, pulsating rock song. This track was most definitely my favorite sounding song, with a strong drum beat and shredding guitar. The vocals only added to the building intensity. The song was suave and slightly gritty at the same time, making it memorable. 

No. 6 Collaborations Project did not bring anything new to the table in terms of pop music. This is something that truly bothers me, as I try to find songs with depth and originality. However, I know that many people do not share my musical taste, and for many, this album is everything they want from the music industry, and that’s okay. In my opinion, though, this record is shallow, unoriginal, and other than an occasionally good-sounding song, provides me with nothing of importance to qualify giving it high praise. 

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