By Courtney E. Smith
Ed Sheeran is probably the most affable pop star on the planet. Possibly in the history of pop music. Speaking with Radio.com just before his show on Ellis Island on Friday night (June 13), he and about 300 fans had just come out of a raging thunderstorm. Sheeran arrived in a car, via the bridge to the island in New Jersey. His fans, however, were waylaid — stuck on a ferry in the middle of an unexpectedly violent downpour with their ability to even get to the island in question.
When the rain slowed down the ferry full of soaking wet fans were allowed to dock and a cavalcade of teenage girls stormed into the Ellis Island Museum’s first floor. Meanwhile, we were chatting with Sheeran on the second floor and, with those determined fans in mind, had to ask him if they were the people he imagined falling in love with his folk-rock songs.
“To be honest, I always did envision it would be teenage fans,” Sheeran said. “To start off with [my fan base] was older men and as soon as it became teenage fans, the gigs started becoming more fun. People weren’t just turning up to stand still. People were turning up to sing, clap, have a good time and enjoy themselves. I really, really like having a young fan base. It’s more exciting.”
He agrees that the taste of teen girls in particular is not respected, but says it’s because they have a “split taste.”
“They can be into something that might be credible and into something that might not be credible,” Sheeran said. “But that’s the same as anyone.”
And, in keeping with the current trend among music critics, Sheeran says he is a poptimist — a term defined by Jody Rosen in a piece for Slate as embracing the ideas that, “Pop (and, especially, hip-hop) producers are as important as rock auteurs, Beyoncé is as worthy of serious consideration as Bruce Springsteen, and ascribing shame to pop pleasure is itself a shameful act.”
RELATED: Ed on Ellis Photo Gallery
It stands to reason that Sheeran would identify with the ideology of poptimisim. He’s cowriting with Benny Blanco (who had a hand in his next single, “Don’t”); he’s besties with Taylor Swift, one of the biggest pop stars on the planet; and he’s written successful songs for the boy bands One Direction and Rixton. Music snob isn’t his bag, but his covers of Nina Simone and the Irish folk song “Parting Glass” prove that he knows a thing or two about so-called credible music as well.
“I’d say pop music is still the No. 1 music that people listen to and has been for the past 70 years, 80 years — however many years,” Sheeran said. “As long as it’s popular, it’s pop music I guess.”
Ed Sheeran will continue to dominate pop music with the release of his sophomore album, X, on June 23. The singles “Sing” and “Don’t” are available now.