Last Monday, the seventh, I listened to Ed Sheeran's long anticipated new single "Sing" when the view counter on youtube was just over 300. At this time, my fingers pressing against the keys, the first single from his follow up album to the 2011 worldwide sensation +, has been listened to almost three million times.
The title suggests that "Sing" inspired me to write this piece on one of my favorite musicians, and to a certain extent, that is true. His new album, x, will be available on the 23rd of June. I am eagerly anticipating his sophomore album. Follow ups to huge successes can sometimes fall into the pattern of what is known as the "Sophomore Slump." Riding off of such commercial and critical acclaim, Sheeran could release an album of himself singing the dictionary and it would go platinum.
"Sing" is a safe song: melodically catchy, upbeat, and extremely radio friendly thanks to the producing credit from Pharrell Williams. With that being said, "Sing" is Ed Sheeran's worst song. That is not to say that it is bad, because it still beats out the vast majority of all of the other overplayed tracks on radio stations across the nation. I'm holding the 23 year old artist to higher standards based off of his pure, raw talent.
Listen to his ten minute version of "You Need Me, I Don't Need You" or his eight minute version of "Give Me Love" from his debut album. Enjoy his covers of "Who You Are," "Skinny Love," "Wonderwall," "Hit Me Baby One More Time," (Seriously) "Thrift Shop," "I Knew You Were Trouble," "Chasing Cars," "Same Love," "Little Things," (Although he actually wrote this song for One Direction). Everything he covers, in my opinion, blows away the original. Those are just a few of his covers.
From beginning to end, his debut album continued to surprise and leave listeners in awe. He plays masterfully on a guitar that looks as if it is meant for someone half his age. He can change from powerful vocals to soft, tender whispers in a matter of moments. In "U.N.I." he shows off his skills as a singer/rapper.
He has collaborated with dozens of artists, sung his heart out for Peter Jackson's The Hobbit with "I See Fire." His voice soothes the soul, tells a story, and surprises you with every change in tempo, rhythm, and vocal inflection. At times, Ed does not seem human. If there is one artist out there that could be described as having the voice of an angel, Sheeran's jaw dropping vocals would surely make him a contender for that designation.
We should "Sing for Ed Sheeran" in hopes that the rest of his upcoming album contains much of the same magic that his debut album did. Let's hope that the fame hasn't changed his music too drastically. When listening to + it is apparent that the album was written from the heart, from a deeply personal place, not for the mainstream.
Everyone is listening to his story now, and an artist that young, with such an abundance of talent, could easily crack under the pressure and create a safe album. "Sing" is a great song, but it is too safe. I expect more from the rest of the tracks come June 23rd.
In the meantime, search far and wide across youtube, because much of his talent is displayed outside of the mainstream, away from radio waves, in the ears of his dedicated fans. Ed Sheeran is the most talented twenty-something musician we have. Sing for his talent, and hope for a follow up that contains the same magic that we first heard over three years ago.