The Pop Song'shape Of You By Ed Sheeran

1580 WordsSep 26, 20177 Pages
The pop-song “Shape of You” by Ed Sheeran follows a pattern that Adorno argued to be the formula for a song to become a hit pop song. Ed Sheeren is a singer-songwriter and guitarist from England that records pop music since 2004 (The Academy of Contemporary Music, 1). He and songwriter, Steve Mac, produced “Shape of You” from the album, ÷, under the Asylum and Atlantic Labels (ACE Repertory 1). The album was released January 16, 2017, and by February 18, “Shape of You” became the number one most popular song in the U.S. Billboard chart, remaining in that position for eleven weeks (Billboard, 1). The popularity of the song is explained in light of Adorno’s 1941 text, On Popular Music. Adorno was a prominent member of the Frankfurt School,…show more content…
The fact that replicating a seventeen-year-old song can produce a hit in 2017 demonstrates that there is a pre-designed formula for popular music in which changing a few characteristics to make a new song sound “unique” can still result in success. This proves Adorno’s argument that the music industry produces music in an “industrial” way--popular music is centralized in its pattern and modifies some characteristics to seem “individualistic.” Though “Shape of You” and No Scrubs contain different keys, tempo, and of course, lyrics, they both rely on a chord progression of i-ic-VI-VII in a common time (MusicNotes, 1 & FindSongTempo, 1). “Shape of You” takes advantage of the fact that the audience is accustomed to listening to the same pattern, predicting that the listeners will react the same way they did with previous successful songs, thereby attaining financial success. Not only does “Shape of You” employs structural standardization in so far as it imitates past songs, it also relies on the repetition of words and chords within the song to make it simpler and more digestible. Adorno explains that in order for people to accept a song, they need to recognize it, and repetition is a way to achieve familiarization (Adorno, 32). Though “Shape of You” includes various instruments including a marimba, the whole song is written in the key of C#m and there are only four chords played throughout the song: Bm, Em, G, and A (Sheeran). Furthermore,

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