There, I said it. Even just watching the preview clips before this morning’s release it felt as though Ed Sheeran’s new song and video, ‘Bad Habits’, was paying homage to the Michael Jackson classic, ‘Thriller’…at least in the video, if not the song.
Sonically it’s a new direction for Sheeran, it feels as though it’s been pitched slightly higher than his usual vocals: there’s a sense that maybe this song was originally meant for Justin Bieber, but for whatever reason Sheeran has decided to sing it himself. If that’s the case, then it was the right move, because even though takes a little bit of getting used to, there’s no doubting that once you get over that, it’s catchy.
An upbeat pop song with a danceable chorus, the lyrics are simple, and centre on the point of view of the main character, who (kind of?) blames his bad habits on a lover. Deep down however he knows he’s rhe only one who can break his bad habits – and the only he’s going to do that is by no longer remaining in contact with his lover.
The video takes the song in a different direction. Now there’s no lover involved, but rather the one that he lets take control when the sun goes down is his vampiric alter ego. Sheeran, resplendent in a pink suit, long green acrylic nails, dark glitter under his eyes, fangs, and – shock – BLONDE hair…okay it’s just a lighter ginger really – starts off in the beauty salon, getting his do touched up, before spending his nights roaming the streets, Thriller style, with his vampire crew. There’s a lovely moment when he goes to hand a smiley faced balloon to a child…but that doesn’t last long as the child – she’s a vampire too of course – pops it with her own talons. Other cool moments include a confrontation between vampire Ed and his real self (like the balloon, this Sheeran pops and deflates) as well as dancing, and flying. You get the feeling everyone on set had a really good time making this video!
Dawn breaks, and all the vampires crumble into dust – including, it seems, Sheeran, but then we flash to the real Ed, who rubs his makeup off, and effectively breaks the fourth wall by returning to the way we all know and love him, a simple man in a hoodie, playing and singing with his guitar. In a way this too feels like a nod to ‘Thriller’, which famously ended with the “real” Jackson consoling his girl, before turning to the viewers to reveal that his true identity is a zombie.