Ed Sheeran may be his generation’s singer/songwriter but he’s not sure

Ed Sheeran plays the Wells Fargo Center in Philly on Sept. 8 and the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass. on Sept. 9. Credit: Ben Watts
Ed Sheeran plays the Wells Fargo Center in Philly on Sept. 8 and the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, Mass. on Sept. 9.
Credit: Ben Watts

On pop charts populated by rappers and dance floor divas, a 23-year-old Brit with an acoustic guitar stands out. Ed Sheeran, whose sophomore album, “X” peaked at the No. 1 position on the Billboard 200 earlier this summer, says he likens his popularity to a niche that needs to be filled.

“I think there is one singer/songwriter for every generation,” he says. “I guess I’m just this generation’s one.”

This statement is characteristic of Sheeran in conversation. There’s an element of the grandiosity one needs to become a pop star, but there’s also a healthy dose of humility and even a trace of self-doubt. He says the phrase “I guess” about as often as he sings about being drunk.

Sheeran’s music is also rife with these levels of certainty.

“I like a lot of different types of music, and I like trying them out, I guess,” he says. “I never want to be a one-trick pony, even if I don’t master the other crafts.”

His live act includes experimental elements like a series of sampling pedals, and his repertoire runs the gamut from pretty ballads to confessional raps to Springsteen covers. [Listen below]

When asked about this cover, he says, “I was in a hotel room in New York with a friend who is an actor. And he was playing stuff on the speakers and that song came on, and I wasn’t familiar with Springsteen. I was kind of familiar with his big hits but I wasn’t really familiar with that album, “Nebraska.” And I just listened to that on repeat. Over and over again that night and I got fully into it the next day.

So who was that actor?

“A friend of mine named Kit Harington,” he says. “He plays Jon Snow on ‘Game of Thrones.’”

Oh yeah, we’ve heard of that guy.

Sheeran’s careful to distinguish that although he has some friends who are also in show business, not everybody knows each other and has the kindest words for each other.

On the day of this interview, a meme of Sheeran walking up to the stage at the VMAs makes the rounds, the gossip suggesting that Miley Cyrus can be seen mouthing the word “a—hole” as Sheeran high-fives a friend in her row.

Miley is definitely not clapping for Ed, but really, is this a good celebrity beef? Probably not.
Miley is definitely not clapping for Ed, but really, is this a good celebrity beef? Probably not..

When we speak, Sheeran hasn’t seen the clip in question, and he says that he has never met Cyrus, but he seems perfectly content with being on the gossip websites.

“At least they’re saying something,” he says.

Sheeran learned about not saying negative things about famous people the hard way, as last year he was critical of Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” video.

One other musician you won’t get Sheeran talking about is who the subject of his most recent single, “Don’t” is.

Pointing to the lyric, “me and her, we make money the same way,” many were quick to suggest when “X” was first released that it was about Ellie Goulding, with whom Sheeran had been spotted at a few public outings. So who is it about?

“No one’s got an answer out of me out of me yet,” he says, resolute that this interview won’t be any different.

What sets “Don’t” apart from other Top 40 material is how Sheeran mixes these elements that he’s perfected and others that he hasn’t quite nailed yet. “Don’t” combines his natural sense of melody with rap, fuzzy bass, delicate falsetto backgrounds and a sing-along chorus that seems to be missing a certain word.

“That was always the original intention to put it on the record with the swear,” he says of the chorus, which was originally “don’t f— with my love.” Why did he change it? Fear that it wouldn’t receive airplay? Concern that the swear would make the tale of infidelity sound too mean? Nope. It was an eventful cab ride from L.A. to Malibu.

“I was chatting with the driver,” recounts Sheeran. “We were talking for about an hour and then he said his daughter was a fan and I said, ‘Hey can I play you some new stuff?’ … On that song he thought I swore too much, so I took it off for him, I guess.”

Elsewhere on “X,” Sheeran raps about Bon Iver and croons soulfully about how he’ll be loving the subject of his song long after “the crowds don’t remember my name.”

What’s that about?

“Everyone’s got their kind of time slot, depending on how long your audience wants to make your time slot,” he says, “so I’m just going to keep going until it starts to fade away, I guess.”



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Arts

EXCLUSIVE: Backstage with Adam Jacobs at 'Aladdin' on…

Metro shadowed Adam Jacobs backstage at "Aladdin" on Broadway.

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…