“I write songs for girls to cry and eat ice cream to”- Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran | x | 2014 | 1 hour 5 minutes (extended edition) | Atlantic
I saw a documentary called “Nine Days and Nights of Ed Sheeran” on MTV. The show followed Ed Sheeran in the days leading up to the release of his sophomore album, x (pronounced “multiply”). The twenty-three- year- old singer started his career playing open mics and clubs LA and the UK. His 2011 album + became a hit; “The A Team” was its hit single. Ed opened for Taylor Swift’s Red tour last year.
The MTV special revealed two things:
- Ed really wants his sophomore album to sell well, because a sophomore album release “is literally a make or break situation”.
- Ed is serious about making money making music.
Ed says “record labels have one big release a year… and I am that”. Sheeran took steps to make sure x becomes profitable for his record label, Atlantic. He partnered with hitmakers Pharell and Rick Rubin and stocked the album with radio- ready singles, like “Sing” and “I’m A Mess”. Even when playing by the rules, Ed keeps carving out a niche for himself as an acoustic singer/songwriter with a penchant for rap.
Teenage girls make up most of Ed Sheeran’s fan base. Never underestimate the power of teenage girls- they’ve been making and breaking pop acts like The Backstreet Boys and One Direction for years. + had a big sensitive side and really did sound like music for girls to cry and eat ice cream to. Anyone who’s seen Ed perform live knows his more angsty songs are more fun; for x, Ed explores heavier themes like death, jealousy, and inebriation. Not about to alienate his “A-Team” fans, x contains plenty of “sloppy love songs”, but hopefully x expands Ed’s fan base past teenage girls.
Ed, a native of Suffolk, England, has a raw British folk style not unlike that of Damien Rice, one of his idols. He sing- raps like Jason Mraz and beatboxes like Justin Timberlake. In a word where even Taylor Swift makes pop music, it’s both surprising and awesome to see a singer/songwriter succeed on his own terms. Some of the tracks follow the same formulas and sound the same, and at times Ed’s producers’ styles overpower his own (like on “Sing”). It sometimes tries too hard, but x plays the game without many creative casualties.
Standout Tracks: “Don’t”, “Bloodsteam”
UPDATE: After listening to the album nonstop for approximately 24 hours I have come to the following conclusions:
1. “Don’t” is by far the best song on the album. Billboard reports Atlantic wants to make it the next single. I think this is a bad idea because it’s clearly about a fellow pop star and celebrity drama is a cheap shot to the top of the charts.
2. Some of the tracks, like “Nina” and “Afire Love” have dorky piano accents. They sound like they belong in a Hallmark movie. I don’t care if Elton John himself put them there, I wish they were replaced with guitar riffs or something.
North American Tour details here.
8.21.14 – Wamu Theater (Seattle, WA)
8.23.14 – Ambleside Live (Vancouver, BC)
8.29.14 – The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan (Las Vegas, NV)
8.30.14 – The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan (Las Vegas, NV)
8.31.14 – Jobing.com Arena (Glendale, AZ)
9.2.14 – Sprint Center (Kansas City, MO)
9.4.14 – Wolstein Center (Cleveland, OH)
9.8.14 – Wells Fargo Center (Philadelphia, PA)
9.9.14 – Xfinity Center (Boston, MA)
9.11.14 – Time Warner Cable Arena (Charlotte, NC)
9.12.14 – The Arena at Gwinnett Center (Atlanta, GA)
9.13.14 – Bridgestone Arena (Nashville, TN)
9.15.14 – Target Center (Minneapolis, MN)
9.16.14 – Allstate Arena (Chicago, IL)
9.18.14 – Air Canada Centre (Toronto, ON)