After beginning an independent recording career in 2005, Ed Sheeran’s slow rise to stardom in the United States was quickened by some well-known pals: the 22-year-old London resident co-wrote three songs for One Direction’s first two albums, and joined Taylor Swift in North America on tour after co-writing and duetting on her song “Everything Has Changed” from Swift’s 2012 blockbuster “Red.”
BILLBOARD CHART HIGHLIGHTS
|June 30, 2012: “+” debuts at its No. 5 peak on the Billboard 200.
June 30, 2012: “+” starts at its No. 2 highpoint on Top Rock Albums.
January 12, 2013: “The A Team” reaches No. 16 on the Hot 100.
November 2, 2013: “Old School Love,” Lupe Fiasco’s song Sheeran, peaks at No. 10 on Rap Digital Songs.
November 2, 2013: “Everything Has Changed,” Taylor Swift’s song featuring Sheeran, hits No. 8 on Adult Pop Songs.
Famous ties aside, the earnest brand of folk found on Sheeran’s debut LP, “+,” has found a stateside constituency thanks to singles like “The A Team” and “Lego House”; the album’s sales now totals 751,000 copies since its June 2012 release in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Meanwhile, Sheeran’s innovative live shows — built on looped guitar lines that multiply and eventually form percussive rock songs — have morphed the singer-songwriter from a club warbler to a Madison Square Garden headliner.
Sheeran made a splash at the 2013 Billboard Music Awards with a performance of “Lego House,” a flourishing love track whose official music video has garnered 59 million YouTube views. One year after “The A Team” was nominated for the song of the year at the GRAMMY®, Sheeran will vie for the best new artist award on the eve of his sophomore album release, due out this summer on Atlantic.
In the meantime, Sheeran has contributed a new track, “I See Fire,” to the soundtrack for “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug”; collaborated with Lupe Fiasco on the track “Old School Love”; and is a featured performer on U.K. producer Naughty Boy’s debut album, “Hotel Cabana.”