English crooner Ed Sheeran’s sophomore album x, pronounced ‘Multiply,’ has become the fastest selling album of the year in his home country, according to the BBC, with 182,000 copies flying off the shelves in the UK during its first week on sale. It has done even better in the U.S., debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and selling 210,000 copies during its first week on sale, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan.
The album x is currently sitting at number one on the album charts in the UK and the U.S. after its release last week. According to Billboard, this is the first number one record for Sheeran, the biggest pop debut of the year, and the fourth largest opening of the year overall. The publication also noted that x is the biggest U.S. debut from a British male singer in nearly ten years, since Rod Stewart released Stardust … The Great American Songbook Vol. III in the fall of 2004.
In the UK, x has displaced Coldplay’s Ghost Stories as the top selling album of 2014 by 14,000 copies and Sheeran has also obtained his first number one single “Sing.” In the States, “Sing” has yet to crack the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, but strong album sales will certainly build momentum for the album’s first single.
The record produced in part by Pharrell and Rick Rubin, and finds Sheeran exploring more R&B and hip-hop influences than his previous record, the multi-platinum +. Rolling Stone said that Sheeran’s more hardened attitude works, for the most part, giving the album 3 out of 5 stars. “On his second album, x, Ed Sheeran supersizes his romantic affliction: Each new day is a fresh chance for this guy to hit the bar, fall in love, get his heart stomped like a bug — and then dissect the gory remains over a pretty acoustic melody,” Rolling Stone writes. The album has a 74 rating from reviews aggregated by Metacritic.
Sheeran’s x is doing better than + with the critics as well as in sales. The assistance from the two world-class producers made for some danceable surefire hit type songs from Pharrell and some more serious ones from Rubin. Rubin’s involvement will pique the curiosity of more serious music fans than who would usually pay attention to a teen pop sensation like Sheeran. Rubin produced several tracks on the album, including “Bloodstream,” “Don’t,” and “Tenerife Sea.” While there are still aspects of the record that come off as immature, it is much more grown-up than +, and despite the maturity complaints it’s worth remembering that Sheeran still has his mostly teenage fan base (known as Sheerios) that he gained while on tour with friend and frequent collaborator Taylor Swift to cater to.
Sheeran opened up about his ambition in an interview with Rolling Stone: “I’m more calculated than people think,” Sheeran admits. “When I said I wanted to play Madison Square Garden, a lot of people said I was nuts. And I made sure I did it. And when I said I wanted to sell 4 million albums, and we were stuck on 2.5 million, I went to the States and got on the Taylor Swift tour and made sure I did it.”
Now that x is flying off the shelves, Sheeran stands to meet more of his big goals and perhaps even surpass his mentor Taylor Swift if he can keep up the momentum through his following records as well.
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