First things first: Ed Sheeran’s Saturday Night Live portrait makes him look like Hobbit Spice and it’s impossible to quit staring at it. Secondly, it’s exciting for an artist of Sheeran’s stature to use the SNL stage to premiere new material instead of dropping it via YouTube or Twitter or whichever social network he’d choose for instant gratification and clickable domination. A creepy as hell headshot may have come out of it, but Sheeran’s SNL debut was a fruitful one for him that established crossover appeal–or at least it justified Sheeran’s presence on the playlist of anyone over the age of 18 who needs to lay off the greatest hits of Jack Johnson and John Mayer for awhile.
See also: “OMG Her Face!”: America Reacts to Haim’s SNL Performance
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea to be sure, but Sheeran–that 23-year-old singer/songwriter and collaborator to Taylor Swift and One Direction–has an undeniable finger on the pulse of pop, and a solid falsetto to boot. His forthcoming record and sophomore release, x, won’t see its proper debut until June, but SNL provided a proper forum for performances of its first single, “Sing,” and “Don’t,” the ex-bashing number purportedly directed at Ellie Goulding.
“Sing” is totally that song that parents in the suburbs play at No Kids Allowed backyard barbecues before things get CUHRAZAY when Donna shows up with the makings of Skinnygirl Margaritas, but the transition from a solo Sheeran to Sheeran with a full backing band was a delightful change for the guy who typically hangs with just his guitar. Still: it’s OK. “Sing” isn’t the stuff of earth-shattering sonic dreams; it’s not remarkable; it’s the kind of dude pop that forces the singer to cop a tortured facial expression in an attempt to capture the attention of his listeners because the words themselves aren’t cutting it. He’s not treading on territory that hasn’t long since been worn out by Jason Mraz, but hey: maybe there are a ton of chick flicks coming out in 2014 that we haven’t heard about yet, and Sheeran will provide the absolutely perfect soundtrack to those! See? There’s our silver lining.
“Don’t” cuts a bit deeper, and maybe we’re crazy here, but it seems like Sheeran’s been listening to Jock Jams 3 too much because that riff was straight-up Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” with all of the beats and fun sucked out of it. Supposedly, “Don’t” is Sheeran’s revenge track for Ellie Goulding, who, according to the tabloids, banged One Direction’s Niall Horan in the same hotel that they were staying in. The smoothness of Sheeran’s voice comes across as weirdly anti-emotional in a song that would totally benefit from a little bit of rage, and it doesn’t quite work. He’s wholesome, he’s got lovely pipes and he can write, but maybe Sheeran’s got a bit of maturing to do before he can convince an adult outside of Britain that the words in his songs can pull their own weight.
The internet, however, was TOTALLY BONKERS EXCITED about Sheeran’s debut (and Taylor Swift’s random cameo to support her buddy.) There are thousands of “ZOMG ED I LOVE YOU #SHEERIOS CAN’T WAIT FOR THE ALBUUUUUM” so we’ll spare you, but here’s a handful of exciteable tweets that followed Sheeran after his first SNL gig.
This guy was writing legitimate Sheeran/SNL fanfic in 140 characters and we’re 100% okay with that.
Ed Sheeran arrives at his dressing room at SNL. Candles burning red. Taylor Swift sits in a chair full of cats. “I made tea,” she whispers.
— Alex Goldschmidt (@alexandergold) April 13, 2014
CAPS LOCK MEANS THEY’RE JUST FRIENDS GUYS TOTALLY NOT DATING JEEZ CHILL OUT
PROUD FRIEND ALERT. @edsheeran http://t.co/vWxezjwSMD
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) April 13, 2014
Hoodie Allen’s a Sheeran fan, apparently.
Ed on SNL tonight. Nothing else matters @edsheeran
— Hoodie Allen (@HoodieAllen) April 13, 2014
Has anyone EVER written a song about a toothbrush?
ED SHEERAN CAN GO WRITE A SONG ABOUT A TOOTHBRUSH AND ID STILL LISTEN TO IT
— ella (@latersharry) April 13, 2014
… LOLd at this Trump comment, sorry.
#SNL Ed Sheeran: Justin Timberlake’s falsetto, Donald Trump’s hair.
— Peyton’s Head (@PeytonsHead) April 13, 2014
This one’s a bit much!!!!!!!!
The amount of happiness I have for @edsheeran SNL performance is equivalent to a mother watching her baby take their first steps. (!!!!!!!!)
— Kari Gleich (@karilynnegleich) April 13, 2014
I haven’t seen many British rappers, but Ed Sheeran & his band rocked it on #SNL!
— PAULY K (@pkraynak) April 13, 2014
This accurate statement is accurate.
I like Ed Sheeran but I liked him better ten years ago when his name was Jason Mraz. #SNL
— AM (@danielsadam) April 13, 2014
uh oh,its happenin again,that ed sheeran guy sounds like he straight jackin the r&b grooves on #SNL tonight.i truly was xpectin a diff sound
— ASPOT O GEE (@voodoochld69) April 13, 2014
Please let this be the first and last time someone compares Sheeran to Michael Jackson.
idk why but Ed Sheeran sound so much like MJ on SNL tonight during the song he’s currently singing
— Christina (@Kristinazzz9191) April 13, 2014
More:Film and TV