Ed Sheeran's Star-Studded Collaborations, Ranked: Critic's Take
Ed Sheeran may have the world at his fingertips after this year, as his No. 1 album Divide has now spawned two Billboard Hot 100-topping hits and a sold-out world tour. But while most of his reasons for being Billboard’s top artist of 2017 were his own doing, his latest achievement -- “Perfect” taking over the No. 1 spot on the Hot 100 -- comes, in part, thanks to Beyoncé, whom he recruited for a duet version of his romantic ballad.
Landing Queen B for a feature is just about as huge as it gets, but when it comes to Sheeran’s list of collabs, she’s certainly not the only superstar. Sheeran has teamed up with Macklemore, The Weeknd, Taylor Swift (twice!) and, most recently, Eminem. He also has nearly 10 other features on tracks of U.K. artists such as Rizzle Kicks, Wiley and Nekfeu, every one allowing Sheeran to do something a little different.
With “Perfect” being Sheeran's only collaboration to reach the summit of the all-genre chart, though, it seems Sheerios love the Ed/Beyoncé combo most -- but where does it fall in our eyes? Take a look at our ranking of Sheeran’s most notable pairings and see if you agree.
10. The Weeknd feat. Ed Sheeran, "Dark Times”
Sheeran’s bluesy side fits the somber thump of The Weeknd’s regretful breakup track as well as the “Starboy” singer’s sultry tone. But between the rather depressing lyrics and the lack of Sheeran’s, “Dark Side" just doesn’t measure up to the rest of his collabs.
9. Lupe Fiasco feat. Ed. Sheeran, "Old School Love"
Considering Sheeran can pretty much lay down verses with the best of 'em, seeing his name on a track with Lupe Fiasco makes one think he’ll be spitting some rhymes along with the Chicago rapper. On this track, though, Sheeran’s contributions are a bit diluted, as he sticks to his more “A Team” sound than flaunting his rap skills. That’s not to say it’s not beautiful, but it’s easy to want more out of a rap song featuring a guy like Ed.
8. Taylor Swift feat. Ed Sheeran and Future, "End Game"
The old Taylor may be dead, but the new Taylor didn’t want to leave her ginger-haired friend in the past. But with a change in Swift’s sound came a change in Sheeran’s addition: Rather than featuring Sheeran’s sweet vocals again, she instead had him throw down a few raps -- and with Future also in the mix, it’s one badass statement for Taylor’s reputation.
7. Tori Kelly feat. Ed Sheeran, "I Was Made for Loving You”
In between “Thinking Out Loud” and “Perfect” came what could easily be considered the most romantic non-single Sheeran has sung on. The mystical acoustic guitar behind his and Kelly’s whispery voices is even more enchanting than the instrumental of Sheeran's own ballads, and the contrast in their tones is as swoon-worthy as the thought of Sheeran telling you he was made for loving you.
6. Rudimental feat. Ed Sheeran, "Lay It All On Me”
While Sheeran’s loop-pedal magic makes his music sound cool enough, teaming up with the U.K. drum 'n' bass outfit allowed Sheerios to get a taste of what his voice sounds like with a little oomph of electronica -- and, of course, it’s awesome. Rudimental's upbeat vibe matches Sheeran's half singer/half rapper vibe seamlessly, and the fact that he's the only one singing makes you almost forget it's not technically his song.
5. Eminem Feat. Ed Sheeran, “River”
Sheeran’s excitement about this collaboration was enough to get fans pumped, and the story behind it (just when Sheeran thought his attempt to work with the Detroit MC had failed, he found out Em had laid down his verses) is amazing too. The resulting track sounds like a the combination of Sheeran’s “Eraser” and Eminem’s “Love the Way You Lie,” in which the singer-songwriter’s passion matches the rapper’s intensity flawlessly — needless to say, the hype was totally worth it.
4. Macklemore feat. Ed Sheeran, "Growing Up (Sloane’s Song)”
As mentioned with the Lupe track, seeing Sheeran’s name on a track with a rapper makes fans eager to hear another epic verse from the British crooner. But this is the kind of rap feature we’d want to see from Sheeran if he’s not going to be rapping himself: one that allows Ed to show off his range and make the phrase “Who am I if I’m the person you become/ If I’m still growing up" sound as sincere as it reads.
3. Taylor Swift feat. Ed Sheeran, "Everything Has Changed”
Before Beyoncé came into Sheeran’s catalog, his bestie recruited him for another adorable love song about two friends falling in love. While it apparently wasn’t a tale of their close friendship, the soft guitar and vocals on this Red track (you know, from the "old Taylor” days) is about as sweet as they come.
2. Ed Sheeran feat. Beyoncé, "Perfect Duet”
Bringing Bey onboard resulted in a full-on acoustic rendition of the already ballroom-worthy ballad, which brings out the rawness in both Sheeran and Beyoncé’s vocals. Putting a male and female’s voices on heartfelt lyrics like "We are still kids, but we're so in love” truly makes the song a love story, one that’s so good we can’t avoid calling it like it is: “Perfect."
1. Hoodie Allen feat. Ed Sheeran, "All About It”
This may be one of the lesser-known features of Sheeran’s, but that’s probably only because Hoodie isn’t quite on the level of a Taylor Swift or Weeknd type -- because otherwise, this is one hell of a track. Not only does it allow Sheeran to flaunt his rap skills in a major way, but it’s a rap song that incorporates a horns section. The upbeat track is just plain fun, and what makes it even more enjoyable -- and awesome -- is that you can tell Sheeran is having a damn good time singing it (and making the superhero-themed video).