Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Ed Sheeran: No. 6 Collaboration Project [Asylum, 2019]
Much preferring Sheeran's old soft shoe to One Direction's precision pyrotechnics and Justin Bieber's asshole cutie-pie, I admit I never understood why so many proud pop middlebrows looked down on him. But I also admit that he never made me go ooh until this much disparaged proof that he has what it takes to sign up 21 count-'em 21 all-star cameos including Cardi B, Chance the Rapper, Eminem, 50 Cent, Stormzy, Meek Mill, Khalid, and Bieber himself. It's mostly his guests, led by the three at the top of my list, who make his modesty shine by adding sparkle to his nice-guy shtick. But that modesty is winning and a relief. Unimaginably wealthy, songwriter to stars he outshines, he wants us to know that he hates parties and doesn't much fancy the celebrity round either. He uses his fame and fortune to convince us how ordinary he is. B+