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Ed Sheeran may have just dropped his highly anticipated third studio album Divide and announced a massive worldwide tour to support the album, but that doesn’t mean the English singer is focused solely on himself. In an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Ed revealed that he’d like to create a boy band in the future, which makes perfect sense.
Sheeran has written tracks for several pop stars, some of his biggest hits courtesy of One Direction, including “Little Things” and “Over Again.”
Sheeran’s work has helped score major hits for Jesse Ware, Taylor Swift, Olly Murs, and most of all, Justin Bieber. Sheeran penned Bieber’s Major Lazer collaboration “Cold Water,” but their biggest success story together has been thanks to 2015’s Purpose track “Love Yourself.”
The English singer knows how to write hits for himself and for others, but branching out into the boy band world gives Sheeran an opportunity to do something entirely different in the music landscape. Sure, a band of cute, 16 year-olds to replace the void left by One Direction’s hiatus would likely be welcomed by millions of screaming fans who have since gone silent, but do we need a carbon copy of the past?
Creating a new boy band is another opportunity for Sheeran to make his mark on the music industry and for a singer who has become one of the biggest pop stars of all time with one small guitar and zero back up dancers, we’re expecting something exciting. Here are five things we’d love to see with Ed Sheeran’s boy band.
Although it makes sense on paper for Sheeran to be the main songwriter for his band, there are two big issues with this model. One, Sheeran is still a solo artist and even though he’s a prolific writer, penning two full albums in a short time period could lead to burn out. Additionally, there’s also another hitch—all of Sheeran’s songs tend to have his fingerprints all over them. Look at Bieber’s “Love Yourself” or One Direction’s “Little Things,” for example. Swap out the singers and add in Sheeran’s vocals and these tracks could easily be bonus singles from Divide. While we love us some Eddie S, the point of a creating a new band should be to fill a void in the music market that has currently been left empty. Enlisting singers, who are also songwriters, would help bring a fresh voice and sound to the airwaves.
Traditionally, boy bands and girl groups have been comprised of young singers from similar geographical areas. The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC were comprised of American teens, while The Beatles, the original boy band, all hailed from Liverpool. One Direction displayed a slight attempt to branch out, with Niall Horan as the sole non-Englishman in the group and Zayn Malik as one of the few examples of a non-white member of a boy band. But the problem with bands comprised of singers from similar geographical areas, abilities, races and religious backgrounds is that they all bring a similar narrative. Music is international and boy bands especially can find success around the globe, yet we’ve never seen a group that featured a K Pop singer, a European singer, North and South American singers, and so on. If the main appeal of boy bands is to try to present four to five distinct ‘characters’ that give every listener someone to connect with, shouldn’t their make-up be more diverse?
Look at the credits on most pop albums released in the past five years and you’ll likely see the same producers. Max Martin, Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder, Stargate, Dr. Luke, Rick Rubin, Pharrell, Mike Will Made It, Shellback, Jeff Bhasker, Skrillex, and The Smeezingtons have been behind some of the biggest songs in pop history. While YouTube and Soundcloud are breaking down the barriers to entering the music business, the charts are still largely dominated by the same male producers. To give his boy band a sound that isn’t a carbon copy of the rest of the Billboard charts, Sheeran should look for up and coming producers and writers, like WondaGurl, Jessie Reyez, Grimes, and Charlotte Day Wilson.
Break-ups in boy bands and girl groups are often a result of two things; fighting within the group and the desire to go solo. While the first is difficult to avoid, the second can be addressed before the group forms. The biggest success stories as of late are courtesy of the X Factor and their offspring of One Direction and Fifth Harmony. Both groups were formed with solo artists auditioning as solo artists, so the members’ desire to eventually branch off isn’t surprising. Finding singers who have performed as part of a group and are more comfortable in a group dynamic could curb this desire to go solo.
We know, we know, Ed Sheeran specifically said he wanted to start a ‘boy’ band, but must the group consist solely of people from the same gender? Over time there have been fewer singing groups comprised of men and women, but this feature makes their appeal broader and able to speak to a greater audience. From ABBA to S Club 7, The Mamas and The Papas to Pentatonix, mixed gender groups are rarer and therefore standout more among the pack.