Sheeran's new album breaks British chart records

Ed Sheeran's new album ÷, pronounced "divide", is the fastest selling by a solo male artist in British chart history.
Ed Sheeran's new album ÷, pronounced "divide", is the fastest selling by a solo male artist in British chart history.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran's new album became the fastest selling by a solo male artist in British chart history last Friday, with all 16 songs from the record also dominating the singles chart.

÷, pronounced "divide", sold 672,000 copies in its first week, making it the third-highest seller of all time behind Adele's 25 and Oasis' Be Here Now.

The third studio album by Sheeran, 26, has already achieved "double platinum" status, the Official Charts Company said, and sold more copies than the rest of the top 500 records combined.

Shape Of You, a take on Caribbean pop that was released as the album's introductory single in January, was the top-selling single, with 141,000 combined sales.

The entire top five is composed of Sheeran's other songs. He has nine songs in the top 10 and all 16 songs from the album appear in the top 20.

"I never expected to have nine songs in the top 10, so yeah, I don't know, something's gone wrong. But I'm definitely very, very happy about it," he told BBC Radio.

The Official Charts Company said the feat was something no artist had come close to achieving before.

This is Sheeran's first album since x in 2014, after which he very publicly went off the grid to seek inspiration and escape.

The record features rapping and singing, club music and orchestras, a tin whistle and a bodhran - hallmarks of Irish folk - and a song partly in the Ghanaian dialect, Twi.

The New York Times called him a pop algorithm who is able to produce re-creations of a whole range of styles.

The album has achieved success across all formats. It broke the record for highest first-week streaming sales, set by grime rapper Stormzy just last week, and even achieved the biggest one-week vinyl sales in more than 20 years.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 13, 2017, with the headline 'Sheeran's new album breaks British chart records'. Print Edition | Subscribe