With the 2013 Billboard Music Awards rapidly approaching, we caught up with BBMA performer Ed Sheeran to help recount the incredible high points, new discoveries and memorable moments that caught his ears during the past 12 months.
The U.K. singer's breakout single "The A Team" peaked at No. 16 on the Hot 100 in 2012. When his album "+" debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 chart last year, it was the highest debut for a British male artist's first album since 2006.
Watch the 2013 Billboard Music Awards Sunday, May 19th at 8|7c on ABC live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas as host Tracy Morgan welcomes the biggest names in music to the stage.
What song really made an impact on you this year?
Ed Sheeran: The Lumineers’ “Ho Hey” was definitely one of the most impactful songs for me, for good reason. When that song popped, it just changed the whole setting in terms of radio airplay. It was all EDM for a while and then suddenly more bands like that were getting played. It was definitely hard to get “The A Team” on the radio when [it first came out] because radio can only play a certain amount of slower tunes, but “Ho Hey” paved the way for artists like me to get played.
What new talent emerged or came into his or her own this year that blew you away?
An artist called Passenger. He’s an amazing singer/songwriter. I had him on tour with me for a long time and now he’s No. 1 in almost every country around the world, apart from America. He’s going to be coming here soon.
What was your favorite music-related meme or viral video this year?
There was a parody video of someone who did a version of “The A Team” that’s quite funny. “Gangnam Style” is great. I loved how everyone went nuts when it came out.
Was there a surprising sound or music trend that pricked up your ears?
I don’t know what’s happening in America, but definitely in the U.K., more guitar-driven bands are coming back. That’s nice to see. Trap music seems to be getting big at the moment—very minimal beats and slow rap. I was interested to see it get so big commercially.
What are the biggest challenges facing touring artists today?
I think it’s so flooded nowadays with talent, I guess the only challenge is finding different ways to make yourself heard and try different methods. Don’t use the same ways that other artists are trying. The way I got started was instead of playing acoustic shows I played hip-hop, soul, comedy nights. I’d be the only white person there and stand out like a sore thumb, and therefore be more notable. Just try and find a way to stick out. I guess making a record on the road if you are on tour a lot is hard. You just have to find the time.
How do you live like a high roller when you're in Las Vegas?
I like blackjack, but try to avoid it. I was very lucky the first time I played. I got a $100 chip from my friend and won $3,000, so every time I go back I’m trying to do the same thing.