I first came upon The A Team by Ed Sheeran on Spotify, it was listed at the number one in their UK Singles chart for the week a fortnight back - and still remains there. And so gave it a listen.
In one sense a likely number one - tuneful and romantic. In another sense an unlikely number one - acoustic, introspective and unsentimental.
I knew nothing about Ed Sheeran before writing this post and assumed he was one of the latest batch of Reality TV Popstars - The A Team did not quite feel Indie. And so was expecting the lyrics to be unremarkable fare - sweetly romantic at best.
I was wrong on all counts. Ed Sheeran has never been near a Reality TV Show instead coming to wider attention via the more traditional ways of touring clubs and releasing singles and albums to mostly indifferent audiences.
And the lyrics pack a punch - a crafty one at that - more of a kick than a kiss is pulled.
As on listening to the lyrics more closely it became clear this was no straight-ahead love song or introspective meander - lines like 'Long nights, strange men', 'And go mad for a couple of grams' followed by 'And in a pipe she flies to the motherland' then 'Or sells love to another man' - almost as if his soft and warm voice had seduced this difficult content into the ears hearts and minds of its listeners and hoisted it up to the number one spot.
And then a most unlikely but welcome number one.
Ed Sheeran's 'The A Team' is about a woman whose dreams not so much crashed to the ground as never took flight.
The angel of his song is fallen and stuck, selling her body for sex and using most of the proceeds for drugs. 'Dreaming of the motherland' could suggest she is a migrant from Russia or Eastern Europe, dreaming of happier times back home, but could also mean a more general drugged out escapism.
A lot of the lyrics are elliptical and poetical leaving us to draw or project our own meaning.
And they say
She's in the Class A Team
Stuck in her daydream
Been this way since 18
But lately her face seems
Slowly sinking, wasting
Crumbling like pastries
is memorable as are other lines and couplets like 'It's too cold outside for angels to fly' and 'Call girl, no phone'.
The lines 'the worst things in life come free to us' followed by 'Cos we're just under the upperhand' are a striking couplet.
The video for The A Team is shot in black and white and directed by Ruskin Kyle. It plays a faithful narrative to the lyrics - starting with her sleeping and then waking up on a park bench in a cold early morning London, later selling The Big Issue and yet later begging for money. In the evening we see her soliciting for sex and a kerb-crawler picking her up in his car and after having sex and getting paid she uses most of the proceeds towards purchasing grams of heroin. Last scene is her returned home alone using the pipe to smoke the heroin before falling back upon her bed to dream, to fly.
The actress who plays her is Selina MacDonald.
The A Team is a sour pill in a candy coating. Well worth the taking.