Two Brit Awards, a number one album and a song you can't switch on the radio without hearing every ten minutes. Props where they are due to Rag'N'Bone Man who smashed recent chart records by making his debut at the top of the album charts a couple of weeks ago with an impressive tally that earned him the title of fastest selling male debut of the decade, a title you may have thought be held by Sam Smith or Ed Sheeran. The latter of these two isn't going to let the Rag'N'Bone chart reign last much longer mind you.
The rule of diminishing returns is not something Sheeran is prepared to entertain. His third album '÷' takes it's bow this Friday and will no doubt smash chart records here in the UK and around the world. Less hype, and more anticipation, means the global fan base will be poised to download, stream and buy this album following Sheeran's highly publicised hiatus from the public eye. This is the album that Sheeran is personally determined to help define him as a permanent and serious addition to the music scene for years to come, something you may have felt he'd already achieved.
When I interviewed Sheeran shortly after his comeback at the start of this year I wondered whether he was revived enough following his time away to face the challenges that were ahead. He sounded determined and told me "I really want to cement myself as a solid entertainer for the next twenty years. I feel like if you have one hit album you're a flash in the pan, if you have two hit albums you're a lucky flash in the pan and if you have three hit albums you're here to stay".
Bypassing the 'difficult second album' with aplomb, it seems odd there would be any nerves over the forthcoming third release. Sheeran is clearly ready to sit alongside his peers as an artist who can maintain a fresh enough sound without alienating current fans, whilst also appealing to a new crowd who might have yet to get on board. He's earned his stripes in such a manner that new talent can view his rise to the top as a blueprint for the perfect career trajectory - although they shouldn't all be looking for the nearest loop pedal!
All the moves on this album campaign have been sound, despite his comeback being marked by two simultaneous releases, 'Castle On The Hill' and 'Shape Of You', Sheeran ultimately remains the master of a simple strategy. He may be up on stage with Stormzy at The Brit Awards, crafting songs for Justin Bieber or partying alongside royalty, but in spite of all this he still maintains the spotlight. His ability to remain a likeable and relatable young man, being pretty decent and funny in interviews, are the basics required (yet often overlooked) to stand out in the crowded and noisy world of pop. Sounds like a fellow female Brit who's done alright for herself.
No gimmicks, no flash and bag, Sheeran is the master of the understatement, relying solely on his talent to wow his crowds and keep them coming back for more. Take a brief look at the current top downloads in the UK and you'll notice he makes up almost 50% of the top ten. Come this weekend he'll have another number one album under his belt too. You might as well carve 'Ed Sheeran' on next year's slew of musical awards now.