Ed Sheeran covers Billboard

Ed Sheeran photographed by Jason Bell on March 26th at Madam Jojo's in London. 

Jason Bell

The singer's new song, co-written and -produced with Pharrell, should make an impressive entrance on next week's Hot 100 due to strong early sales and airplay.

Ed Sheeran's new single "Sing," which Pharrell Williams co-wrote and co-produced, should make a noteworthy debut on next week's Billboard Hot 100. Highlights of the chart, which blends songs' sales data, via Nielsen SoundScan, and airplay and streaming figures, according to Nielsen BDS, will post on Billboardbiz on Wednesday (April 16), while the survey will update in full the following day.
 
With his segue from folk/rock to R&B-flavored pop on "Sing," Sheeran appears headed for a debut perhaps in the Hot 100's top 40.
 

 
The track was released to radio this past Monday (April 7) and has since garnered 9 million all-format audience impressions through yesterday, according to BDS. It ranks just outside the top 50 on the building Radio Songs chart. Aided by first-day plays on Clear Channel -owned radio stations, "Sing" is set to arrive as the highest debut on the Mainstream Top 40 radio airplay chart (highlights of which will post on Billboard.com on Monday, April 14). It will likewise storm the Adult Top 40 chart, with a chance to launch in the list's top 30.

Ed Sheeran: The Billboard Cover Story

Consumers are echoing radio's acceptance of "Sing," with the song having been a staple of the iTunes Store's top 10 since it was made available for purchase on Monday at 3 p.m. ET. Industry sources tell Billboard that the song could sell approximately 120,000-130,000 downloads in its first week (likely good for a top 10 start on the Digital Songs chart), although that figure could rise given that Sheeran is the musical guest on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" tomorrow (April 12). The song's complete first-week sales sum, according to SoundScan, will be revealed on Wednesday on Billboard.biz.
 
Along with opening-week as-yet-determined streaming activity for "Sing," its projected first-week airplay and sales could help Sheeran challenge for his best rank on the Hot 100 so far. The British singer/songwriter broke through in the U.S. in 2012 with the folky "The A Team," which reached No. 16. The track, which had first reached No. 3 on the Official U.K. Singles chart in 2011, has sold 2.1 million downloads to date. Follow-up "Lego House" peaked at No. 42 last year and reached No. 10 on Adult Top 40. Taylor Swift's "Everything Has Changed," featuring Sheeran, further grew his profile, reaching No. 32 on the Hot 100 in October.

As noted on Tuesday, radio has eagerly responded to Sheeran's shift from acoustic-based folk to highly-polished pop on "Sing," which Sheeran says was inspired by Justin Timberlake. The song previews Sheeran's second Atlantic Records album, "x," due June 23.
 
Mainstream Top 40 reporter KIIS Los Angeles (home to Ryan Seacrest's syndicated morning show "On Air") has played the cut 29 times through yesterday (April 10), amounting to an audience of 1.1 million, according to BDS. Clear Channel senior VP of programming and KIIS program director John Ivey says that the track is "the song to bring Ed all the way home.

"His first record ['+,' which has sold 796,000 copies in the U.S.] was really just him, a guitar and sampling. The sound was adult ... but when you went to see Ed live, it was a lot of young girls going crazy," Ivey says. "Now, with 'Sing' [co-]produced [and co-written] by Pharrell, it's like Justin Timberlake's metamorphosis from 'N Sync to solo. Or, even the way that John Mayer slowly pulled layers back revealing more and more of who he was as an artist with each project.
 
"We're just seeing the tip of the iceberg with Ed," Ivey muses. "I'm not sure he even knows what all he has in him. But, he has [pop/R&B writer/producer] Benny Blanco, Pharrell and others helping to pull different twists and turns out of him.
 
"'Sing' is such an obvious smash."

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboardbiz

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