Go ahead, close your eyes, hit play and take in Thomas Rhett‘s single from his newest EP.
Have you got it? Alright, now play Ed Sheehan’s “Thinking Out Loud”, whose official video was released one year ago.
So, what came first? The chicken or the egg? Sheeran or Rhett?
The problem isn’t that Rhett clearly rips off “Thinking Out Loud”. The problem is that “Die A Happy Man” doesn’t even come close to being as good as the original. Sheeran’s song is a poetic entreaty and celebration of love, a la The Beatles’ “When I’m 64”. There is no line that is jarring, no crass moment.
Rhett’s song is also an entreaty and celebration of love, yes, even ripping off the idea behind “Thinking Out Loud”. However, it is full of clunky lyrics like this stinker: “You’re a saint, you’re a goddess, the cutest, the hottest, a masterpiece.”
Yikes. You have to image Rhett’s father, none other than Rhett Akins, is silently shaking his head right now and wondering where he went wrong.
Rhett explains the impetus behind the song: “There’s a song on the record called “Die A Happy Man” that I hope one day becomes a lot of people’s wedding songs. It’s a super, super, super love song,” he says, showing off his mastery of descriptive language. “I wrote it about my wife.”
Wrote being a strong word in this case. Perhaps the word re-wrote or adapted may be more appropriate.
A lot of people are going to defend Rhett, and that’s fine. It’s not a bad song, and it will most likely become his biggest hit yet. But come on, man, you’ve got to cite your sources.
Well, you may be right. Rhett actually does cite his sources. Well, at least one of them. When Rhett talks about listening to Marvin Gaye, he might actually be referencing the fact that both his song and Sheeran’s song sound very similar to Gaye’s popular “Let’s Get it On”. If Rhett is indeed citing his source, he has done what Sheeran failed to.