Alone onstage in black and wearing a shirt reading “Hoax,” Sheeran started “Castle on the Hill” by strumming furiously and looping several of his own riffs. This is one of his favorite tricks: replicating the power of a full band all by himself. The crowd in Santiago made his job as a vocalist easy; as soon he started to sing, the audience shouted every line along with him.
It’s been a year full of personal bests for Sheeran: his single “Shape of You” became his first Number One as a solo artist on the Hot 100 and it held the top spot for 12 weeks. He also made Hot 100 history when “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You” debuted in the top ten during the same week in January; no other artist has ever debuted a pair of tracks in the top 10.
“Shape of You” is still going strong: the single has been on the chart for 18 weeks. Meanwhile, “Castle on the Hill” climbed into the Top 40 last week, and Sheeran’s latest single, “Galway Girl,” debuted on the chart at Number 94. All three songs appeared on ÷, which has already sold more than a million album equivalent units in both the U.K. and the U.S.
Elton John offered a simple explanation for Sheeran’s success. “He can write melodies so simply,” John told Rolling Stone. “He reminds me of me when I first came to America, in 1970. It was all systems go. Nothing was impossible.”