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

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

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

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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.

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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

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