In a time when world music-infused hip-hop tracks and superstar dance music collaborations are topping the summer charts, English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is something of an unlikely pop star. His humble, earnest, acoustic guitar-strumming style could be considered an odd fit against the hypercharged, often over-produced pop music of the day.
But the fact that he’s obviously a huge hip-hop fan has only endeared him to new audiences. Sheeran is known for crafting catchy singalong tunes but also for covering his favorite hits with just his voice and guitar, including “We Found Love” by Rihanna and Calvin Harris, “Drunk in Love” by Beyoncé, “No Diggity” by Blackstreet (which he actually mashed up with Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop”) and “Coco” by O.T. Genasis.
Add these gems to Sheeran’s recent cameo on Game of Thrones and the fact that his album Divide was named the U.K.’s biggest selling entertainment product in 2017 ahead of the home-cinema release of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and this singer-songwriter qualifies as a real pop-culture phenomenon. Ed Sheeran with James Blunt at T-Mobile Arena, August 4.