Ed Sheeran: The British crooner's new song, "Sing," was produced by Pharrell and inspired by Justin Timberlake.

Ed Sheeran Does His Best Justin Timberlake Impression on "Sing"

Brow Beat
Slate's Culture Blog
April 7 2014 9:45 PM

Ed Sheeran Does His Best Justin Timberlake Impression on "Sing"

186263300-ed-sheeran-performs-in-concert-at-madison-square-garden_2
Sheeran departs from his trademark soft acoustic sound on his latest single.

Photo by Taylor Hill/Getty Images

Ed Sheeran is a mere 23 years old, so it makes sense that his work—a sensitive acoustic ouevre somewhere between Damien Rice and Morrissey—would evolve. Few could have predicted this departure, though: The Brit crooner's latest, "Sing," is a Pharrell-produced track that owes a serious and transparent debt to the producer's work with Justin Timberlake.

That's not a bad thing. The song is a layered power-pop anthem, and Sheeran does justice to his influences, unleashing a falsetto so pure, crystal, and cutting that even J.T. would be proud. And the rapping, perhaps unnerving to some, is actually not news: Sheeran has, to varying degrees of success, employed his rapid-fire ability everywhere from live shows to the Internet to impromptu freestyle showdowns.

Advertisement

The pop move was also foreshadowed—Sheeran's written songs for Taylor Swift and One Direction—but it's still a jarring stylistic break from "The A Team." It's yet to be seen if this new sound is permanent or a one-off; the single is off his forthcoming sophomore album, x, to be released June 23.

Sharan Shetty is a writer for Brow Beat. You can follow him on Twitter

 

  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Aug. 28 2015 12:31 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? International affairs writer Joshua Keating on what to read to understand the apparently permanent slowdown of the Chinese economy.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 1 2015 12:20 PM Does Contraception Reduce Abortions? The relationship is surprisingly ambiguous—until you look at the best evidence.