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10th May 2017

Ed Sheeran has been ripped apart by one critic for ‘cultural theft’ in his recent hit ‘Galway Girl’

Wow! Tell us what you really think

Conor Heneghan

“Get in the sea you little bleeder. And then give yourself a clip.” Wow.

‘Galway Girl’ may be one of the most popular tracks (over 214 million streams on Spotify at the time of writing) on Ed Sheeran’s new album Divide (÷), but it would be stretching it to say that it’s universally admired.

While some see the song as an affirmation of Ed’s love for all things on the Emerald Isle, others railed against a misfiring combination of traditional Irish music and rap; indeed, he had to fight off opposition from his record label to have it included on the album in the first place.

If the song itself wasn’t stereotypically Irish enough, then the music video – with pints of Guinness, Irish dancing, a lock-in and plenty of celebrity cameos – certainly made sure to hammer them home even more.

Clip via Ed Sheeran

While the song has attracted plenty of criticism to date – it was described by The Guardian, for example, as “ludicrous” – the most stinging rebuke has come from Alan Perrott, who wrote a piece for Stuff magazine in New Zealand piece somewhat catchily titled: ‘Ed Sheeran’s new single is cultural theft and it’s not OK’.

Yep, you’ve guessed it, he’s not a fan.

Perrott holds absolutely nothing back in his dissection of the song and of Sheeran himself, of whom he writes:

“It’s now a fact that Sheeran’s cupboard of ideas isn’t so much bare as smashed up and tossed on the fire. Because, and let’s be clear on this, Sheeran has resorted to that hoary of English trope of cultural theft.”

He doesn’t stop there either. The burn he inflicts on one of the best-selling artists in the world right now, is, as you’ll see, quite deep.

“For starters he’s appropriated an entire Irish folk tradition. And not only musically: his lyrics are essentially a grab bag of Irish stereotypes that stops a “to be sure” short of “diddly-dee potatoes”.

“Why? Well, obviously science proves everyone loves a bit Irish with all that craic, Mrs Brown and other random Irish stuff. Which means it’s guaranteed to be played in all those ghastly faux-Irish pubs that infest cities everywhere where punters deep in their cups will sing along and think it the best song since ‘What Does the Fox Say?’

“Would he nick Scots tradition like that and then play it in Glasgow? Not unless he has a death wish.”

What do you think? Is Perrott on the money, is he completely off the mark, or has he touched on something relevant but perhaps overblown it just a tad?

You can read Perrott’s piece in full here and judge for yourself.