Ed Sheeran's Billboard Cover: 5 Things We Learned About Music's Great Red Hope

Billboard's new cover star is the Great Red Hope himself, Ed Sheeran, a self-deprecating, unglamorous heartthrob who attracts fans to arenas with just an acoustic guitar, was Taylor Swift's date on Oscar night and is a talent Pharrell calls "one of the most impressive, underestimated singer-songwriters of our time."

Billboard's new cover star is the Great Red Hope himself, Ed Sheeran, a self-deprecating, unglamorous heartthrob who attracts fans to arenas with just an acoustic guitar, was Taylor Swift's date on Oscar night and is a talent Pharrell calls "one of the most impressive, underestimated singer-songwriters of our time." Sheeran just announced he'll release new single "Sing" next week; check back Monday (April 7) to get the full story on the Justin Timberlake-inspired track plus details on other surprises in store for his sophomore album.

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Until then... go behind the scenes of Ed's Billboard cover shoot in the exclusive video below, plus check out five things we learned about the impressive artist.

HE KNEW HE'D SELL OUT HIS GARDEN PARTY. Ed sold out three nights at Madison Square Garden in New York City, a huge accomplishment for a solo singer-songwriter. How many people knew that selling out those shows - almost instantly - was a given? "I've got to be honest: I did," he says. "But no one else did. That's why I made them hold three [dates]… I know my fan base and I can tell when something is going well. And record sales didn't mirror ticket sales."

BUT HE'S ALREADY SET HIS SIGHTS HIGHER. Ed says that once a large majority of fans have seen his spare, guy-with-a-guitar acoustic show, he'll "move on" to a bigger live sound. "I want to headline a stadium," solo, he announces. (More on that on Monday!)

THE 'WORST-DRESSED MALE OF 2012' HAS CLEANED UP. "I'm coming around to dressing a bit better," says Sheeran, who nearly wore a tuxedo-themed hoodie to this year's Grammys. "I've just never really given a f- about what people are wearing, so I don't know why people care about what I have on."

HIS NEW ALBUM WILL HAVE HIS MOST CONFESSIONAL SONG TO DATE. Ed says he "could have gotten nastier" in the new song, a "100 percent true" story about an ex love. "If you date a songwriter, be prepared to have songs written about you." (MUCH more on this in the full cover story!)

HE HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR ABOUT BEING A REDHEAD. "What is the one thing a ginger misses about partying?" Pause. "The invitation." There's a point to his self-deprecation, he says. "Gingers got properly sectioned [picked on] in schools. It's that racism is totally unacceptable in England, but you've got to take the piss out of someone. It's all right. We will take over the world."

We believe you, Ed.

Return to Billboard.com on Monday morning for the FULL cover story.