Who is Ed Sheeran and why did he make No. 1?
SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil (The Philippine Star) - July 18, 2014 - 12:00am

That he also sings the theme from the big-box office hit The Fault in Our Stars is plain coincidence. In fact All Of The Stars, the song from the movie was not even in the original line-up of X, Ed Sheeran’s new album. Of course, given how the soundtrack and X can now share in their respective successes, the song has been included in the Deluxe Edition of X that boasts of five extra tracks. 

Make sure you get the Deluxe edition when you buy your copy. It is, of course, nice to get All Of The Stars and those other songs. But truth to tell, and I have listened to the album several times, even without The Fault in Our Stars, or the others, X was already one true winner.

The most obvious reason for this, is Sheeran’s vocals. This guy can really sing. His style is folksy and easy but his delivery is very expressive. And then just when you’ve been lulled into thinking he is another acoustic balladeer, he suddenly gives off the best goose-bump inducing falsetto I have ever heard. He uses this to perfection in the album’s first cut, One, and hooks the listener to total attention throughout until the set ends with All Of The Stars.

Next, he is very creative. Sheeran has the greatest quality that I think every good songwriter must have. This is the ability to take, mundane, everyday things and turn them into poetry. One Less Bell To Answer by David and Bacharach and I Just Called To Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder are excellent examples. Sheeran has bits like “It’s alright to cry, even my dad does sometimes” and “I’m not a rapper, I’m a singer with a flow.” Very simple but touching lines. Very poetic. And as if that were not enough, he has this flair for unconventional themes. Remember his The A Team and Lego House?

Next, Sheeran is a versatile composer who can go from one genre to another without compromising his style. Listen to how he does Sing, the album’s first single, which he co-wrote and which was produced by the hot hitmaker Pharrell Williams of Happy fame. It is happy, sing-along tune. Then, he raps in The Man and rocks a lot in I See Fire, the theme from The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. He can also invite dancing in Don’t and be at his most emotional in Afire Love.

Then, I think Sheeran is a huge success because he dares to be different. Tales now abound about Sheeran’s refusal to be packaged, to be turned into a buffed, impeccably groomed pop idol. He ditched the label contract and chose to go indie instead. Then when he felt the time was right, he accepted the invitation to crash at the Hollywood digs of movie star Jamie Foxx. There he wrote his songs and when he was ready to make his big debut, he got his label deal and everything else on his own terms.

But most of all, I think that Sheeran is raking it big because he has the right goods at the right time. Every young male artist around is trying to look tough and sexy and geared for trouble. The buyers are probably tired of those. Then there came Sheeran, only 23 years old and who seems so charming and so guileless that he takes you by surprise when he starts to sing.

By the way, the X stands for Multiply, not the unknown or just plain letter x. Sheeran’s first album was titled +, which of course stands for Plus. I have a feeling he is leading up to something interesting with these mathematical album titles.

X includes One, I’m A Mess; Sing; Don’t; Nina; Photograph; Bloodstream; Tenerife Sea; Runaway; The Man; Thinking Out Loud; Take It Back; Shirtsleeves; Even My Dad Does Sometimes; I See Fire; and All Of The Stars.

Sheeran has left his exalted perch on top of Billboard Magazine’s Top 200 Albums chart, but being No. 2 this week is also very good. The Top 20 albums are the following: Trigga by Trey Songz; X by Ed Sheeran; In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith; Isolate & Medicate; Frozen, the motion picture soundtrack; Don’t Kill The Magic by MAGIC!; Platinum by Miranda Lambert; Ultraviolence by Lana Del Rey; Paula by Robin Thicke; Thanks For Listening by Colt Ford.

Now 50 by Various Artists; Just As I Am by Brantley Gilbert; No Other Name by Hillsong; Ghost Stories by Coldplay; Remedy by the Old Crow Medicine Show; The Hunting Party by Linkin Park; Lazaretto by Jack White ; Jersey Boys, Music from the Motion Picture and Broadway Musical by Various Artists; The New Classic by Iggy Azalea; and Crash My Party by Luke Bryan.

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