In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ed Sheeran expresses some frustration with his public perception. You see, he’s really quite successful, and he thinks it’s time people realized that:
You have recently sold out three nights at Wembley Stadium, which is pretty incredible. What does that mean to you?
I did it for the same reason that I put on the Madison Square Garden shows — because no one thought I could do them. It’s a strategic thing. So on the next album, I can come back and I’m a serious contender. Because I’m not necessarily a star. I don’t get the benefit of the doubt from TV shows or radio stations because they see someone like Lady Gaga come in and be like, “Oh, we’ll give her everything.” I was on a TV show in England where Lady Gaga was being interviewed and I was playing the music. She suddenly decided she wanted to play a song so the TV show booted me off for the next week. That wasn’t even that long ago. So I feel like there’s a misconception of me as an artist, that I’m not that successful. So I wanted to tell the world, “Actually, here’s three Wembley Stadium gigs that sold out, I’ll see you on the next album.” I want to bow out on this album as big as it gets.
Sheeran also singled out Taylor Swift — his friend, collaborator, and the woman that helped break him in the U.S. — as someone whose fame he’d like to eclipse:
Is there a level that you feel that if you get to, then you’ll be satisfied?
At the moment, Taylor [Swift] is a benchmark in America and a lot of other countries. In America, I want to catch up with her.
If you surpassed her in sales, would she be like, “Good for you,” or “Arg!”
I think it would take a lot more work because she’s obviously been going about 10 years more than me. If I passed her, I think she’d then get more competitive and do more stuff. I think it would only be healthy. Like her surpassing me in sales in the U.S., that’s healthy for me because I now want to get up to that point.
If Sheeran is really getting bumped off talk shows, I guess he has reason to be irked — if you follow the chart section in The Week In Pop, you know Sheeran’s x has been a top-10 mainstay forever alongside Swift’s 1989 and Sam Smith’s In The Lonely Hour. His album has sold about twice as many copies as Gaga’s Artpop did, and it debuted with far stronger first-week sales than Gaga’s Tony Bennett duets album Cheek To Cheek. He’s unquestionably one of the biggest stars in music right now. But honestly, it’s pretty amazing that this guy can get endless radio airplay and awards-show love and still feel entitled to more respect. The embittered nice-guy victim mentality that courses through hits like “Don’t” is spilling out into real life here. What Sheeran doesn’t seem to get is that no one is going to treat him like a star unless he acts like a star. His whole brand is that he’s the schlubby everyman, and in the entertainment business, that’s always going to take a backseat to celebrity mystique.