“Bad Habits” Sparks Concern for the Artist of the Decade
By Brendan Schwartz - Contributor
Ed Sheeran’s recent song “Bad Habits” has caused tremendous controversy amongst listeners due to its unusually dark lyrics, predictability, and stark contrast to his usual soft ballads. “Bad Habits”, which Sheeran said was inspired by the series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, was released on October 29th, 2021as the lead single on his fifth album. It peaked the number one charts around the world. However, it leaves much to be desired.
Singer & songwriter, Ed Sheeran, who has sold more than 150 million records worldwide, was awarded the most combined success in the UK album and single charts in 2010 and was named artist of the decade in 2019. But he recently surprised listeners with his new dark song, “Bad Habits”. This song, which is about reflecting on bad decisions made late at night, was a disappointment to many of his fans all over the world and did not live up to his usual standards as a vocalist.
As Sheeran dressed up in a neon pink suit with green makeup and sharp fangs in his music video for “Bad Habits”, viewers were stunned. They were astonished to see Sheeran deviating from his usual soft and intimate songs like “Perfect” and “Thinking Out Loud”. His new electric pop single was both visually and acoustically shocking. Where was the old Ed Sheeran, guitar in hand, singing breathtakingly beautiful melodies?
Sheeran’s motivation behind this song was in fact to shake up his listeners. Sheeran described this song as a surprise and crazier than his previous singles. As Sheeran argued, “people see me as the acoustic singer-song-writer who does ballads and there was just a lot of that. So, I wanted to go in the studio and make something that was totally different”.
The lyrics of “Bad Habits” , contrary to Sheeran’s previous songs, were dark, depressing, and gloomy. The song, which focuses on Sheeran’s struggles and bad habits with alcoholism and binge eating, conjured up images of isolation and despair. As the chorus stated, “My bad habits lead to late nights ending alone. Conversations with a stranger I barely know”. These were in complete contrast to Sheeran's usual uplifting and hopeful romantic songs.
With its overpowering electric pop tempo and blaring music overshadowing his voice, is it any wonder that Sheeran’s fans felt terribly disappointed? Sheeran’s voice was almost unrecognizable without his famous acoustic guitar that accompanied him in almost all his other singles.
After hearing the single, listeners were left feeling disheartened as the song sent the message that bad habits will take everything out of you and leave you with nothing in the end. “Yeah, I was lookin’ for a way out, now I can’t escape. Nothin’ happens after two, it’s true, it’s true. My bad habits lead to you.”
While “Bad Habits” may have disappointed viewers with its outrageous up-tempo beat and heavily made-up songwriter, its lyrics were nonetheless witty and relatable. Haven’t we all suffered through bad habits of our own? Sheeran’s bad habits are therefore a reflection of our own suffering and misdemeanors. “My bad habits lead to wide eyes starin’at space. And I know I lose control of the things that I say.” Just like Sheeran lost control through his own bad habits, so do we while listening to this song. His journey of bad habits was our journey too.
It is not clear whether or not Sheeran is changing his bad habits. However, what listeners do know is that Sheeran felt trapped in a vicious cycle of suffering and misery. “Swearin’ this will be the last, but it probably won’t. I got nothin’ left to lose, or use, or do.” Will Sheeran succeed in changing his bad habits? Only time will tell.
Given all the hype surrounding Sheeran’s new single “Bad Habits” listeners can decide for themselves whether or not to embrace the up-tempo beat and clever lyrics or abandon the song due to Sheeran’s unrecognizable voice, shocking stage presence and flashy attire. Will you still remain a Sheeran fan and tackle your bad habits?