Seven reasons Ed Sheeran is taking over the world
Ed Sheeran has officially taken over the world. Or, at least, that chunk of the world which enjoys heartfelt acoustic pop performed by red-haired men with heavily tattooed arms (turns out it's a pretty big chunk). With the ginger juggernaut playing the first of a brace of sold-out Croke Park dates tonight, we've our own theories as to why Sheeran has become so popular so quickly. Here, then, are seven reasons Sheeran took over the world.
1. He Keeps It Real
On the path to global dominion, Sheeran didn't obsess over frills or niceties. For the best part of a year he was technically homeless, crashing on the couches of friends and fellow artists on what was essentially a never-ending tour. He would later describe taking the late night underground in London, simply so that he could grab a few minutes uninterrupted rest. It's quite a distance from his present position – and you can bet Sheeran hasn't forgotten.
2. He's Focused On The Fans
Sheeran is part of the first generation of artists to have grown up in a world where record labels no longer have it within their gift to create stars. Nowadays, it's about social media, YouTube and gigs – in other words, about winning over one fan at a time. That was Sheeran's strategy from the beginning – so that, when he finally was signed by Atlantic Records, he already had a substantial following.
"If you find success from building your own foundation, you don't need the record company," the singer told the Irish Independent in 2011. "Atlantic could drop me tomorrow – I've still got the fan-base that got me here. They got me into the charts before I was signed. It's a better position to be in."
3 His personal life is interesting – but not TOO interesting
Sheeran provided an insight into his lively love life with the song Don't – widely interpreted as inspired by his split from rumoured girlfriend Ellie Goulding and her subsequent friendship with Niall Horan of One Direction. Yet he doesn't feel compelled to live every triumph and reversal in full view of the public. We know he's a sensitive sort who's had his heart broken. And yet he maintains enough of an aura of mystery to keep us guessing.
4 He Knows When To Mix It Up
Acoustic, rap, r'n b – Sheeran has tackled them all and usually lived to tell the tale. In an age when artists cling to their pigeonholes in white-knuckled terror, his willingness to try something different sets him apart.
5 Celtic Melancholy Flows Through His Veins
Sheeran is of Irish stock and has a long relationship with this country. He is on record that Ireland is proportionally his biggest market and selected Whelan's in Dublin for a VH1 live recording at the start of the year, in acknowledgement of the life-changing Damien Rice gig he attended at the venue in 2004. He is also close to his cousin Laura, a singer-songwriter from Galway. "We always bonded over music growing up," she said recently. "We never really needed to talk about anything else: it was always just music music music."
6 He's The Respectable Face of "New Boring"
Sheeran's music is mild and often understated – and for his troubles he has been lumped in with the fake "new boring" scene (see also Adele, Coldplay, Snow Patrol). But what's wrong with being born to be beige? Imagine how exhausting life would be in every band sounded like Nine Inch Nails.
7 He Has Absolute Confidence In His Musicianship
World-class chutzpah is required to stand in front of 80,000 people strumming an acoustic guitar – as Sheeran will tonight and tomorrow at Croker. His quiet self-belief is infectious – Sheeran believes absolutely in himself and as a result we do too.