Ed Sheeran previewed a game-changing new compilation during a sketch on the The Tonight Show Monday night that’s sure to be a hit everywhere, from suburban coffee shops to minivans to office building elevators: Ed Sheeran Sings Heavy Metal.
As Jimmy Fallon, playing turtlenecked spokesman Steve Joshua, notes, it’s a soft-rocking disc for those who “enjoy the morbid and disturbing themes of heavy metal music, but wish it had a more cheerful, pleasant sound.”
Sheeran gamely grabbed his guitar for the bit and plucked out a couple of heavy metal classics in his angelic singer-songwriter style, starting with a rendition of Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hills” that makes James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful” sound like Warrant’s “Cherry Pie.”
The “pop music cherub-faced troubadour,” as Fallon calls him, then delivered a delightful performance of “Break Stuff” by nu-metal heroes Limp Bizkit. Amidst a green screen background of a roiling thunderstorm, Sheeran sweetly sang about all the “he said, she said bullshit” and, understandably, proved incapable of keeping a straight face.
Like any self-respecting CD one can order after midnight through a special television offer, Ed Sheeran Sings Heavy Metal comes with a special bonus disc: Ed Sheeran Sings Hardcore Rap. The musician then promptly previewed his rousing, heartwarming cover of Ty Dolla $ign’s “Paranoid.”
The conceit of the Tonight Show bit may have been inspired by Sheeran’s own tendency for performing unexpected covers live. During a concert this past weekend in Queens, New York, Sheeran wove 50 Cent’s “In Da Club” and Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” into his own track, “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You,” while also covering Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine,” Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good” and Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition.” Last month, he enlisted opener Ben Kweller for a duet of “Stand By Me” to honor recently deceased soul giant Ben E. King.