Ed Sheeran sold out New York's Madison Square Garden -- three times -- on the back of acoustic songs that required little instrumentation beyond his guitar and a loop pedal. Hits like "The A Team" and "Lego House" established him as a post-millennial troubadour, a Cat Stevens for the Snapchat generation. But "Sing," the lead single from his hotly anticipated sophomore LP, "x" (pronounced "multiply"), finds him channeling another unlikely source -- Justin Timberlake -- and recruiting none other than Pharrell Williams for his first song with a preproduced track. What seems like an odd match on paper is actually a whimsically soulful blend of the pair's distinct sounds, with Sheeran stretching his impressively limber falsetto over a hard-edged beat that recalls another Williams-produced classic, Timberlake's "Your Love." Sheeran has been called an unlikely pop star, but this breakthrough should put an end to that.
Featured Single Review: Ed Sheeran, "Sing"