December 22, 2017


An Analysis: Ed Sheeran Had the Biggest 2017 of Any Musician

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The statement “Ed Sheeran had a great year” isn’t surprising to hear, and it hasn’t been since he first broke into the mainstream several years ago. He has consistently churned out mega-hits with mainstream-mass appeal and earned the respect of music critics of all kinds. 

It is now almost a given that the British singer-songwriter will do well whenever he has something new to peddle, but he deserves to be featured as a look back at just how well his music performed in 2017 to argue that he had the best year of any musician on the planet.

Just one week into 2017, Sheeran made it clear that he intended to own the year by dropping his future smash “Shape of You.” The song showed that he had moved on from only using his acoustic guitar, and that he was willing to do whatever it took to score a chart-topper all around the world...and the risky move worked.

“Shape of You” debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. (and in many other territories), and it ended up living at the top for a dozen weeks, making it one of the longest-running chart-toppers ever. At the same time that “Shape” launched at the peak, fellow single “Castle on the Hill” also kicked off inside the top 10, making Sheeran the first musician in American history to see a pair of new cuts debut inside the uppermost region on the chart.

Just a few months later, the accompanying album ÷ (a.k.a. “Divide”) also opened at No. 1 with a massive first week, and not a week would go by in 2017 that didn’t see it shift tens of thousands of units. The record was so immediately beloved, all 13 songs featured on it were purchased and streamed enough to land on the Hot 100 chart, certifying them all as at least minor hits.

Sheeran is currently back at No. 1 on the singles tally with his current hit “Perfect,” which bolted to the top thanks to a revamped version featuring none other than the Queen herself, Beyoncé. Before 2017, Ed Sheeran had never been able to collect a chart-topper, but now, just as the year is wrapping up, he has not one, but two to his name.

Thanks to the incredible success of both “Shape” and Divide, Sheeran’s name appears on many year-end lists, and he and his works have been named some of the best-selling, highest-charting, and most-streamed in the world of the past 12 months.

Most things went his way in 2017, but surely something had to go wrong, right? Perhaps the only bad thing to happen to the ginger-haired musician this year is that he wasn’t nominated for enough GRAMMYs. He did earn a pair of nods, but many assumed that both his album and his blockbuster single “Shape” would appear in the big four categories (and possibly even win), though that didn’t end up being the case.

Unlike many of his fans, Sheeran took it all in stride, because when you’re riding as high as he currently is, it’s difficult to ask for sympathy. 

Now, check out the biggest artist of 2017 chatting about musicians he loves, like Taylor Swift and Psy.