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MUSIC REVIEW: Ed Sheeran raps his way through “Sing

We love Ed Sheeran so much, it hasn’t even bothered us that we’ve been listening to his debut album for years now. OK, that’s a lie. We mind a lot. Luckily, new music is on the way.
Ed Sheeran released the first single off his second album, x (pronounced “multiply”), today on BBC’s Zane Lowe’s radio show. The track is up and already available for download here in the U.S. and we highly recommend you do so. “Sing” has everything a single needs in order to find its way to regular radio rotation, namely an assist from Pharrell Williams (in case you weren’t sick of him already).

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“Sing” is a truly impressive mixture of what Sheeran did so well on his debut album and what many may not realize Sheeran is capable of. To passive listeners, the “A Team” singer is just a ginger-headed Brit with an acoustic guitar. Yawn. Anyone who spent time with Sheeran’s debut album, +, however, knows he’s so much more. The album slid easily between folksy, depressing acoustic numbers to redemptive raps and drunken meanderings. If “Sing” is any indication, fans should expect no less from x, out June 23.

What’s so great about the song? Starting off with a grunt and a few breathy sighs, Sheeran and his acoustic guitar launch into a full-on R&B track. It’s so sexy, too — like something you’d sneak a listen to on late-’90s-era radio when they’d do their midnight hour of love. As Sheeran falls in love with a girl on a club’s dance floor, dozens of former R&B artists are — no doubt, begrudgingly — admitting the singer has something they always sorely lacked. (Our best guess: the accent and fiery hair.)

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The single offers up some great and nostalgic moments. The backing choral “oh” reminds us of a certain New Kids on the Block song that at one time took up our every waking moment. The old-school beats mixed with Sheeran’s guitar are also a nice touch of flavor. As always, Sheeran’s speed and flow when rapping are impressive, just as he previously demonstrated on “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” And that falsetto? Robin Thicke may have just lost the only thing he had going for himself.

What do you think of “Sing”: Is it a win, or does it fall flat?

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