CRAIG JENKINS: Ed Sheeran’s push from coffee shop folk-pop to the hodge-podge of styles he occupied on x was lauded as an evolution this summer, but “Don’t” is essentially a Jason Mraz song. Meanwhile, Meghan Trainor’s ubiquitous booty-positivity anthem “All About That Bass” avoids grating as best it can by trust-falling into throwback soul.
My Vote: “All About That Bass”
CAITLIN WHITE: On "Don't" Ed Sheeran somehow managed to grasp the piano-driven doo-wop power that buoyed the likes of Gavin DeGraw and John Mayer to success — but does a lyrical U-turn, telling a searing tale of betrayal. If only he'd turn on that same power to eviscerate Meaghan Trainor's train wreck of an "empowerment" anthem that turns grown women into pink-clad bubbly school girls who bop along to a gloating body positivity anthem. This song is the equivalent of a teacher's pet — and reaped success in the same manner. But while Trainor and her Bass may have gone No. 1 on the charts, Sheeran's "Don't" takes on the minutia of real-life pain instead of packaging it in a smugly sweet candy wrapper.
My Vote: “Don't”
JASON LIPSHUTZ: I’m totally down with Meghan Trainor’s anti-Photoshopping anthem but can’t get behind the minimalist doo-wop of her surprise smash hit. Meanwhile, Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” is constructed around some white-boy rapping that somehow works, and instead of cramming some more earnest “A Team” folk onto his sophomore album, the U.K. star roamed into unfamiliar territory and scored the highest-charting hit of his career. Even though Sheeran’s threat of “Don’t f—- with my love” isn’t all that threatening, the redhead has earned the acclaim of Sheerios, as well as my vote.
My Vote: “Don’t”
JILLIAN MAPES: Ed Sheeran's "Don't" brings out a voyeuristic side I don't love: it feeds into my curiosity about pop stars' personal lives, since it's pretty clearly about Sheeran's fling with Ellie Goulding. Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass" makes me want to stab my eyes out, musically speaking (death to fake doo-wop). But I find its body-positive message crucial for young girls to hear on the radio. So I'm torn, but I think I have to be true to the song with the most redeeming musical qualities: the chorus to “Don’t” is so catchy, and the last time a “la-la-la” crept into my subconscious this hard involved binge-watching “Gilmore Girls.”
My Vote: “Don’t”
JEREMY D. LARSON: Mrazian. Mrazian. Just say it a bunch. Mrazian. Mrazian. Mrazian. Use it in a sentence: “Ed Sheeran turns 'The Remedy' into poison on his own Mrazian hit, ‘Don’t,'" or, "Ed Sheeran's decidedly Mrazian take on getting cheated on by Ellie Goulding,” or, "Ed Sheeran goes full Mrazian and rap-sings his way into teens’ hearts.”
My Vote: "Don’t"
HARLEY BROWN: I'll go with "All About That Bass" because even though I'd rather listen to "Don't," I'd also rather listen to Macklemore, and that's saying a lot. Meghan Trainor actually inspires very strong, visceral emotions, not to mention a perpetually self-sustaining conversation about female body images and expectations in pop music (no matter where she stands on said conversation).
My Vote: "All About That Bass"