x (Ed Sheeran album)

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Studio album by Ed Sheeran
Released 20 June 2014 (2014-06-20)
Recorded 2012–14
Length 50:05
Ed Sheeran chronology
Singles from x
  1. "Sing"
    Released: 7 April 2014 (2014-04-07)
  2. "Don't"
    Released: 15 July 2014 (2014-07-15)
  3. "Thinking Out Loud"
    Released: 24 September 2014 (2014-09-24)
  4. "Bloodstream"
    Released: 23 March 2015 (2015-03-23)

x (pronounced "multiply")[1] is the second studio album by singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran. It was released on 20 June 2014 in Australia and New Zealand,[7] and worldwide on 23 June through Asylum Records and Atlantic Records.[8]

The album received positive reviews from music critics. It was an international success in its first week on sale, charting at number one in twelve countries, topping both the UK Albums Chart and the US Billboard 200, and reaching the top 5 in eleven other countries. Four singles were released from the album, "Sing", "Don't", "Thinking Out Loud", and "Bloodstream". "Sing" was a major international success and became Sheeran's first UK number-one single and his second US Billboard Hot 100 top 20 hit (reaching number 13).[9] The second single off the album, "Don't", was also a worldwide success, peaking at number 8 in the UK, and being Sheeran's first ever Hot 100 top 10, peaking at number 9. "Thinking Out Loud" was a slow burner hit, becoming Sheeran's second UK number-one single after 19 weeks in the chart. It also became his highest charting US single to date, peaking at number two on the Billboard Hot 100. "Bloodstream" gave Sheeran his fourth consecutive top-ten single from x in New Zealand and Australia, peaking at numbers 10 and 7, respectively.

In December 2014, Spotify named x the most-streamed album in the world for 2014, racking up more than 430 million streams for the year.[10] In 2015, x won the Brit Award for British Album of the Year, and at the 57th Grammy Awards it was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album and Album of the Year. As of February 2015, the album had sold 5.8 million copies world wide.[11]

Background and recording[edit]

Around the time his first album + was released in 2011, the first songs for Sheeran's second album were written, "One" being the album opener,[12] and another which eventually became a bonus track.[13] Sheeran wrote with Johnny McDaid from Snow Patrol in hotel rooms while supporting them on the North American leg of the band's Fallen Empires Tour in 2012.[13] He also wrote with Northern Irish singer/songwriter and frequent tourmate Foy Vance, penning multiple potential songs for the album.[14] Sheeran decided against releasing his second album in 2012, deciding instead to follow in the footsteps of fellow British acts like Adele and One Direction who had "broken America".[15] In Autumn 2013, Sheeran performed three sold out nights at Madison Square Garden, finishing two and a half years on tour to focus on recording his new album.[16]

In a behind the scenes tour video, it was revealed that he was in the studio with producers Rick Rubin and Pharrell Williams,[17] who were later confirmed in interviews to be contributing towards the album. The album was due for release on 17 February 2014, but Sheeran got "the opportunity to work with Rick Rubin for two months, which [he] wasn't going to say no to," which led to a delay.[18] Having written "hundreds" of songs, Sheeran entered the studio with Rubin and they cut that down to the 15 new songs that feature on the album, excluding "I See Fire", which was recorded separately and saw release on the soundtrack for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.[19] Sheeran stated that he "started off making another acoustic record, and it turned into a neo-soul-funk record," due to the influence of working with producers like Rubin and Benny Blanco that "pulled [him] out of [his] comfort zone." Getting into the studio with Rubin to "rerecord all the songs" after two years of writing them made the songs sound "raw and interesting", at a time when Sheeran was getting tired of them,[20] giving him a chance to "actually set up the album instead of just putting it out."[18] However, doing an entire album with Rubin "just wouldn't work on pop radio", so after working with Rubin he wrote the songs "I'm a Mess" and "Thinking Out Loud", both about his girlfriend at the time, with a different producer.[15] Jake Gosling, who co-wrote and produced the majority of Sheeran's debut album, has no writing credits on this album, whilst new collaborators include Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody and British dance act, Rudimental.[21]

Music and lyrics[edit]

"One" was the first song Sheeran wrote for the album, and is "particularly quiet".[22] Written on a guitar made out of a whiskey bottle in a hotel room whilst on tour in Perth in 2011, the song was the last song written about the love interest that was the focus of the previous album.[12][15][23]

"I'm a Mess" was one of the last songs written, after the recording sessions with Rubin. It is one of two songs written about his then-current girlfriend. It is described as a simple song, and was "written in the shower." [15][24]

In an interview with Zane Lowe for BBC Radio 1, promoting the first single, "Sing", Sheeran talked about getting in the studio with Pharrell and him "playing [Sheeran] a lot of things, and then it stuck on this one riff," which eventually became the basis of the track. He stated he has always been a fan of R&B, but was just "trying to find the right way to make it."[25] Sheeran expressed wishes to create an entire album with Pharrell, and "Sing" was to be a song for that project, but several musical peers, including Elton John, Taylor Swift and Pharrell himself, urged Sheeran to release it with X.[15] Justin Timberlake's debut album, Justified, was a favourite of Sheeran's, which he consciously tried to channel for "Sing".[26] On working with Pharrell, Sheeran told MistaJam on BBC Radio 1Xtra that they had written two other songs together that were in the style he "usually did", but for "Sing" he was pushed "out of [his] comfort zone" which made the track stand out. Pharrell reportedly said that he wanted to "shake the world's view of [Sheeran] up" and make pioneering songs that no singer/songwriter has done before rather than just "a cool record".[27] A remix of the track has been made with Korean recording artist Psy, and the music video for the song was based on a night out with the artist.[28]

"Don't", a song about a girlfriend who cheated on him with a close friend, has been linked to several of Sheeran's fellow singers, including Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift, but Sheeran has said it is "100 percent not about Taylor", but that he has played her the song, and she "never want[s] to piss [him] off that much."[29] After much speculation, Sheeran confirmed the song to be about singer Ellie Goulding, in an interview with The Sun. Sheeran has claimed to have forgiven Goulding.[30] It started off "as a riff on his phone".[31] "Don't" was planned to be released as the first single from the album, but it was decided that the chorus, especially the line "Don't f- with my love," was not suitable for a first single. The song was recorded first with Benny Blanco, then again with Rick Rubin, and the two producers came together to produce the final cut.[23] The song almost didn't make it onto the album, as Sheeran felt it was "a bit personal", but was urged by those who had heard the demo to release it, as it was "an alright song... so it ended up on the record."[32]

"Nina" was written with Johnny McDaid, and was the first song the pair wrote for the album. According to McDaid, it is a "self-deprecating" love song about "heartbreak... where he basically calls someone up and advises her not to be with him."[23]

"Photograph", also written with McDaid whilst touring with his band Snow Patrol in May 2012, is a "timeless ballad". It started life as a "piano loop playing on [McDaid's] laptop" which Sheeran started singing along to.[31] Sheeran has stated "it will be the one that will change my career path", and believes it to be the one song that will sell the album, even "if the rest of the album is shit."[15][33] Described as "[Sheeran's] Angels", the song is a "ballad with big drums, set in New York."[21]

"Bloodstream" is about Sheeran's experience of taking MDMA during a friend's wedding party in Ibiza.[34]

"Tenerife Sea", first played in demo form at Sheeran's sold out Madison Square Garden shows, is "trademark acoustic balladry". Sheeran wrote the song about his mother. Ed told the media that his mothers eyes were crystal blue - "the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen" - and that's what this song was based on.

"Runaway" is the second and final track from the album that is produced by Pharrell Williams. Described as "finger-clicking", it draws from the same influence, the sound of Justin Timberlake's debut album, that "Sing" does. Sheeran intended for the song to feature on a future project with Pharrell, but it was put on the album when he was persuaded to include "Sing".[15][21][24]

"The Man", produced by long-time collaborator Jake Gosling, features Sheeran rapping in a style similar to that of Mike Skinner from The Streets.[21] The song focuses on a failed relationship, whilst touching on the subjects of marriage, chemical dependency and his career in the music industry.[35]

"Thinking Out Loud" was the last song written for the album, and it is also Sheeran's favourite. Written about Sheeran's then-current girlfriend after the recording sessions with Rick Rubin were over, it is a "soul" song, and Sheeran "pinned [it] as the 'walking down the aisle' song."[7][15][24] He described it as "the only happy song on the album", and he wrote it in his kitchen.[36]

"Afire Love" was written about Sheeran's grandfather "two weeks before he passed away". He had suffered with Alzheimer's disease for twenty years, and Sheeran has been thinking "What if [he passed away]? And then he did."[31] Sheeran finished writing the song at his funeral.[15] It explains the aftermath of his death, with his family reuniting for the funeral, and explains the deep love between his grandparents.[37]

"Take It Back" is the first track exclusive to the deluxe edition of the album. In it, Sheeran claims not to be a rapper, whilst delivering four rapped verses. In the same vein as previous single "You Need Me, I Don't Need You", he talks about "his personal struggles and his rise to fame."[38]

"I See Fire", the final track on the electronic deluxe edition (the physical deluxe version has a seventeenth track, "All of the Stars", the song used in the credits for the film The Fault in Our Stars), was previously released on the soundtrack for the second installment of The Hobbit film series. Sheeran was asked to write the song for the closing credits by the film's director, Peter Jackson, whose daughter was a fan of his work. After flying to New Zealand to watch the film, he wrote the majority of the song in a single day, performing all the instruments, apart from the cello, including a violin, which Sheeran taught himself to play for the song.[39] The track was produced by Sheeran himself, and mixed in Abbey Road studios by Peter Cobbin and Kirsty Whalley.[40] It was released on 5 November 2013 as the first single from the soundtrack.[19]

Artwork and packaging[edit]

In a live webcast on YouTube, Sheeran stated that he "feels every single one of [his] records should have a theme that runs through it, even if it's just a colour. The first one was orange, throughout, everything [he] did was orange. This one's going to be green throughout, and everything [he does] will be green in terms of artwork." He cited Coldplay as an influence for this, as they keep with the image of each album they release "for the next two years".[13]

The physical versions of the album come packaged in a green jewel case.[41]


A countdown to the unveiling of the first single was posted on Sheeran's Facebook page, but it was accidentally announced early by Zane Lowe that he would have the first play of "Sing" on 7 April 2014, as his "Hottest Record in the World". The song was played twice in a row, and Sheeran discussed the album and working with Pharrell to produce the single.[25]

Sheeran performed "Sing" and "Don't" live for the first time on Saturday Night Live on 12 April 2014.[42] He then went on to do an exclusive acoustic performance of "Take It Back" on SB.TV on 16 April.[43] Sheeran later performed "Sing" on 27 April at the 2014 Logie Awards held annually in Melbourne, Australia.[44] On 2 May, the singer released an acoustic version of "One" on his YouTube channel.[45] The song was given away on 16 May to people who had preordered the album on iTunes.[46][47][48][better source needed]

On 5 May, Sheeran played three "Multiplyed" gigs, starting at the Steamboat Pub in Ipswich, going on to Koko in London, and finishing in Dublin, where his entire show was streamed live on his website.[49][50][51] The next day, he played a session for BBC Radio 1 at their Maida Vale studios, where Zane Lowe made a live rendition of "One" his "Hottest Record in the World".[52]

Sheeran stated that, until the album was released, he would play very few new songs live, as fans "want to hear the hits", but once it is released he will play a lot more new songs, as "that's going to be what people want to see."[53]

Sheeran played "Sing" on Later Live... with Jools Holland on 20 May, and showcased songs from the record on the extended version on 23 May, including the TV debut of "Thinking Out Loud."[54] His live performance was exactly three years since his last appearance on the show.[55][56][57][58][59][60]

Sheeran performed "Sing" on the finale of The Voice, alongside a duet with contestant Christina Grimmie of his song "All of the Stars", which features on the soundtrack for The Fault in Our Stars.[61][62]

MTV announced that a behind-the-scenes documentary of Sheeran's life, titled 9 Days and Nights of Ed Sheeran, was being filmed, to be aired 10 June. The show would "show every aspect of [Sheeran's] life" while he is on tour, "with extraordinary intimate access to Sheeran", something he has never done before.[63][64] Taylor Swift and Pharrell Williams appeared in the feature.[65]

After the music video for "Sing" was released, which featured a puppet version of Sheeran wearing a pair of Beats by Dre headphones,[66] it was announced that Sheeran, and his then unreleased song "Don't", would feature in the advert for the latest Beats by Dre headphones, the Solo II.[67]

On 5 June, Sheeran appeared in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge for Annie Mac, performing "Sing" and a cover of Sam Smith's "Stay with Me", both with a live band.[68] "Don't" was serviced to US contemporary hit radio on 15 July 2014 as the album's second official single.[69]

x Tour[edit]

To promote the album, Sheeran embarked on a world tour. He will hold several shows in Asia, Europe, North and South America and Oceania until July 2015.[70]


This set list is representative of the show in Milan on January 27, 2015. It is not representative of all concerts for the duration of the tour.[71]

Tour dates[edit]

Tour dates
Date City Country Venue Attendance Revenue
August 6, 2014 Osaka Japan Big Cat N/A N/A
August 8, 2014 Tokyo Studio Coast
August 15, 2014[a] Hasselt Belgium Kiewit N/A N/A
August 16, 2014[b] Chelmsford United Kingdom Hylands Park
August 17, 2014[c] South Staffordshire Weston Park
North America[72]
August 21, 2014 Seattle United States WaMu Theater 7,200 / 7,200 $404,362
August 23, 2014 Vancouver Canada Stanley Park 10,768 / 10,768 $565,895
August 26, 2014 San Jose United States SAP Center 7,485 / 7,485 $423,475
August 27, 2014 Los Angeles Staples Center N/A N/A
August 29, 2014 Las Vegas The Chelsea at the Cosmopolitan 6,000 / 6,000 $237,415
August 30, 2014
August 31, 2014 Glendale jobing.com Arena 8,918 / 8,918 $329,272
September 2, 2014 Kansas City Sprint Center 5,514 / 5,514 $285,408
September 4, 2014 Cleveland Wolstein Center 5,139 / 5,139 $272,367
September 6, 2014 Columbia Merriweather Post Pavilion 11,563 / 11,563 $507,170
September 8, 2014 Philadelphia Wells Fargo Center 10,723 / 10,723 $523,115
September 9, 2014 Mansfield Xfinity Center 10,808 / 10,808 $545,623
September 11, 2014 Charlotte Time Warner Cable Arena 6,533 / 6,533 $314,548
September 12, 2014 Atlanta Gwinnett Center 9,276 / 9,276 $475,402
September 13, 2014 Nashville Bridgestone Arena 10,231 / 10,231 $569,296
September 15, 2014 Minneapolis Target Center N/A N/A
September 16, 2014 Rosemont Allstate Arena 10,532 / 10,532 $532,328
September 17, 2014 Auburn Hills The Palace of Auburn Hills 6,419 / 6,419 $340,873
September 18, 2014 Toronto Canada Air Canada Centre 14,156 / 14,156 $767,910
October 3, 2014 Dublin Ireland 3Arena N/A N/A
October 4, 2014
October 5, 2014
October 6, 2014
October 8, 2014 Belfast Northern Ireland Odyssey Arena
October 9, 2014
October 11, 2014 Leeds England First Direct Arena
October 12, 2014 London The O₂ Arena 68,748 / 70,489 $4,011,080
October 13, 2014
October 14, 2014
October 15, 2014
October 19, 2014 Birmingham LG Arena N/A N/A
October 20, 2014
October 22, 2014 Nottingham Capital FM Arena
October 23, 2014
October 25, 2014 Newcastle Metro Radio Arena
October 27, 2014 Manchester Phones 4u Arena 32,303 / 32,610 $1,688,860
October 28, 2014
October 30, 2014 Glasgow Scotland The SSE Hydro N/A N/A
October 31, 2014
November 3, 2014 Amsterdam Netherlands Ziggo Dome
November 4, 2014 Brussels Belgium Forest National
November 5, 2014 Düsseldorf Germany ISS Dome 11,820 / 11,820 $414,299
November 6, 2014 Hamburg O₂ World Hamburg 12,121 / 12,303 $395,006
November 11, 2014 Copenhagen Denmark Forum Copenhagen N/A N/A
November 12, 2014 Stockholm Sweden Ericsson Globe 13,994 / 13,994 $604,594
November 14, 2014 Berlin Germany Columbiahalle 8,969 / 8,969 $313,251
November 15, 2014 Stuttgart Porsche Arena 6,283 / 6,283 $226,940
November 17, 2014 Munich Olympiahalle 12,084 / 12,084 $480,936
November 18, 2014 Frankfurt Festhalle 11,739 / 11,739 $411,033
November 19, 2014 Zürich Switzerland Maag Halle N/A N/A
November 20, 2014 Milan Italy Alcatraz
November 22, 2014 Lyon France Le Transbordeur
November 24, 2014 Barcelona Spain Sant Jordi Club
November 25, 2014 Madrid Barclaycard Center
November 27, 2014 Paris France Le Bataclan
North America
December 4, 2014 San Francisco United States The Masonic N/A N/A
January 26, 2015 Rome Italy PalaLottomatica N/A N/A
January 27, 2015 Milan Mediolanum Forum
January 28, 2015 Zürich Switzerland Hallenstadion
January 30, 2015 Amnéville France Galaxie Amnéville
February 1, 2015 Clermont-Ferrand Zénith de Clermont-Ferrand
February 2, 2015 Paris Zénith de Paris
February 3, 2015 Nantes Zénith de Nantes
February 12, 2015 Prague Czech Republic Tipsport Arena
February 13, 2015 Warsaw Poland Torwar Hall
February 15, 2015 Vilnius Lithuania Siemens Arena
February 16, 2015 Riga Latvia Riga Arena
February 17, 2015 Tallinn Estonia Saku Suurhall
March 1, 2015 Mumbai India Mahalaxmi Racecourse N/A N/A
March 3, 2015 Doha Qatar Qatar National Convention Centre
March 5, 2015 Dubai United Arab Emirates Dubai Media City
March 7, 2015 Shangai China Mercedes-Benz Arena
March 8, 2015 Seoul South Korea SK Olympic Handball Gymnasium
March 10, 2015 Hong Kong Hong Kong AsiaWorld-Expo
March 12, 2015 Manila Philippines Mall of Asia Arena
March 14, 2015 Singapore Singapore Star Theatre
March 16, 2015 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Plenary Hall
March 20, 2015 Brisbane Australia Riverstage N/A N/A
March 21, 2015
March 22, 2015
March 24, 2015 Sydney Sydney Entertainment Centre
March 25, 2015
March 26, 2015
March 28, 2015 Melbourne Rod Laver Arena
March 29, 2015
March 30, 2015
April 1, 2015 Adelaide Adelaide Entertainment Centre
April 2, 2015
April 4, 2015 Perth Perth Arena
April 5, 2015
April 8, 2015 Christchurch New Zealand Horncastle Arena
April 10, 2015 Wellington TSB Bank Arena
April 11, 2015 Auckland Vector Arena
April 12, 2015
South America
April 19, 2015 Bogotá Colombia C.C Bima Gran Carpa N/A N/A
April 21, 2015 Lima Peru Jockey Club del Perú
April 23, 2015 Santiago Chile Estadio Nacional Julio Martínez Prádanos
April 25, 2015 Buenos Aires Argentina Luna Park
April 26, 2015
April 28, 2015 São Paulo Brazil Espaço das Américas
April 29, 2015
April 30, 2015 Rio de Janeiro HSBC Arena
North America
May 6, 2015 Austin United States Frank Erwin Center N/A N/A
May 7, 2015 Dallas Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie
May 9, 2015 Tulsa BOK Center
May 10, 2015 St. Louis Chaifetz Arena
May 12, 2015 Pittsburgh Consol Energy Center
May 13, 2015 Albany Times Union Center
May 19, 2015 Salt Lake City EnergySolutions Arena
May 23, 2015 Uncasville Mohegan Sun Arena
May 24, 2015 Bangor Darling's Waterfront Pavilion
May 26, 2015 Philadelphia The Mann Center
May 28, 2015 Forrest Hills Forrest Hills Stadium
May 29, 2015
May 30, 2015 Newark Prudential Center
May 31, 2015 Brooklyn Barclays Center
June 2, 2015 Montreal Canada Bell Centre
June 3, 2015 Ottawa Canadian Tire Centre
June 5, 2015 London Budweiser Gardens
June 6, 2015 Toronto Air Canada Centre
June 7, 2015 Canandaigua United States CMAC
June 9, 2015 Des Moines Wells Fargo Arena
June 10, 2015 Sioux Falls Denny Sanford PREMIER Center
June 12, 2015 Winnipeg Canada MTS Centre
June 13, 2015 Regina Brandt Centre
June 14, 2015 Edmonton Rexall Place
June 16, 2015 Saskatoon SaskTel Centre
June 17, 2015 Calgary Scotiabank Saddledome
June 19, 2015 Vancouver Rogers Arena
June 20, 2015 Portland United States Moda Center
June 23, 2015 San Diego Valley View Casino Center
June 24, 2015 Los Angeles Hollywood Bowl
June 25, 2015
June 26, 2015 San Francisco Hearst Greek Theatre
June 29, 2015 Denver Red Rocks Amphitheatre
June 30, 2015
July 2, 2015 Indianapolis Klipsch Amphitheatre
July 3, 2015[d] Milwaukee Marcus Amphitheater
July 10, 2015 London England Wembley Stadium N/A N/A
July 11, 2015
July 12, 2015
July 24, 2015 Dublin Ireland Croke Park N/A N/A
July 25, 2015


  1. ^ The August 15, 2014 show in Hasselt at Kiewit was part of the Pukkelpop.
  2. ^ The August 16, 2014 show in Chelmsford at Hylands Park was part of the V Festival.
  3. ^ The August 17, 2014 show in South Staffordshire at Weston Park was part of the V Festival.
  4. ^ The July 3, 2015 show in Milwaukee at Marcus Amphitheater is part of the Summerfest.


"Sing" was released as the first single from the album on 7 April 2014 around the world, and 1 June in United Kingdom and Germany. The music video, released exclusively to Facebook on 22 May, features a puppet caricature of Sheeran on a night out in Los Angeles.[74] The single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number fifteen,[75] where it has since peaked at number thirteen. It also became Sheeran's first number one on the Australian ARIA Charts and in the UK, where it was released alongside a corresponding EP, which featured a live version of the track, a remix by Trippy Turtle and a new song, "Friends", that does not feature on X.[9][76]

"Don't", previously released on iTunes as the second "instant grat" promotional single, will impact on US contemporary hit radio as the second official single from the album.[69]

"Thinking Out Loud", was sent to Oceanian radio on 21 September as the third single off Sheeran's album. The official music video was released on 7 October.

A remixed version of "Bloodstream" was released as the album's fourth single on 11 February, 2015. The new version of the song was remixed by British drum & bass band Rudimental and was released as a joint single.

Promotional singles[edit]

"One" was released as the first promotional single on 16 May, available as an "instant grat" download on iTunes when you pre-ordered the album. It entered the UK Singles Chart at number 20 and entered the Billboard Hot 100 at 86.[77]

"Don't" was released as the second "instant grat" promotional single from the album on 13 June, ten days before the release of the album.[78] It debuted at number 21 in the Canadian Hot 100 on the chart dated for June, 28th, 2014, the top debut for that week.

Sheeran revealed that he would be releasing a track from the album every weekday in the week leading up to the release, as promotional "instant grat" singles available to those who had preordered the deluxe edition of the album on iTunes. The first of these was "Afire Love", released on 16 June, followed by "Bloodstream" on 17 June, "Thinking Out Loud" on 18 June, "The Man" on 19 June and "Photograph" on 20 June.[79][80][81][82][83][84]

Commercial performance[edit]

X debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart, marking Sheeran's second number one album in the United Kingdom.[85] It sold 180,000 copies in its first week of release to become the fastest-selling album of 2014,[86] overtaking Coldplay's Ghost Stories. It stayed at number one for 12 non-consecutive weeks in the UK, the longest number one since Adele's 21 in 2011.[87] X was the best-selling album of 2014 in the UK, having sold 1.2 million copies and gone 4x Platinum.[88] To date, the album has sold over 2 million copies in this territory.[89]

In the United States, the album became Sheeran's first number one on the Billboard 200, debuting at number one with sales of 210,000 copies. Furthermore, Sheeran marked the second largest debut for a pop album in 2014 and the fourth-biggest opening overall of the year.[90] In January 2015, the album was certified platinum for shipments of one million albums by the Recording Industry Association of America.[91] In Canada, the album debuted at number one on the Canadian Albums Chart; in its second week, the album remained at number one selling 7,000 copies.[92] It became the year's fourth best-selling album in Canada, having sold 133,000 copies over the course of the year.[93] X also spent six non-consecutive weeks at number one in Australia and sold 280,000 copies.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 67/100[94]
Review scores
Source Rating
The A.V. Club B[95]
AllMusic 3.5/5 stars[2]
The Daily Telegraph 5/5 stars[96]
Drowned in Sound 4/10[97]
The Guardian 4/5 stars[98]
The Independent Negative[99]
The Observer 2/5 stars[100]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[101]
Time Out 3/5 stars[102]
USA Today 3.5/4 stars[103]

Upon its release, X received generally positive reviews from music critics. The review aggregator website Metacritic assigns a "Metascore" to each album, which is based on the ratings and reviews of selected mainstream independent publications, and the release has a score of a 67 based on 20 selected critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[94] At The Daily Telegraph, Neil McCormick rated the album a perfect five stars, commenting how the album is like a "vehicle for emotional veracity, personal revelation and universal inclusion."[96] Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic rated the album three-and-a-half stars out of five, remarking how Sheeran's usage of hip hop elements "keeps [the music] from being merely a bit of excellently crafted mature pop and gives it some appealing character."[2] Jon O'Brien of AllMusic said that the album "encompassed [Sheeran's] acoustic/hip-hop hybrid sound, but also had an R&B feel in places along with straight-ahead pop."[104] At The A.V. Club, Annie Zaleski graded the album a B, indicating how Sheeran is showing in his music that "growing up is messy and tough [...] but affirms that navigating life with maturity and confidence is possible."[95] Randall Roberts of Los Angeles Times rated the album two-and-a-half stars out of four, calling the music "Well-crafted, generous and willing to lay it on thick when necessary, but fun to be around nonetheless."[105] At Entertainment Weekly, Melissa Maerz graded the album a B, commenting how even though Sheeran is "finally getting angry, taking aim at a pop-star girlfriend who slept with another guy" that "he's still a good boy after all."[106] Alex Petridis of The Guardian rated the album four stars out of five, highlighting how the artist is "confidently pushing at the boundaries of what he does."[98]

Jason Lipshutz of Billboard rated the album an 81 out of 100, and according to him, he "finds a hungry artist doing everything possible to elevate to another level, simply by abiding by his instincts."[107] At Q, John Aizlewood rated the album four stars out of five, describing how Sheeran's usage of many collaborators could have been "a potentially foolish move, but Sheeran pulls it off, chiefly because... his friends bend to him, not the other way round."[108] In addition, Aizlewood remarks how Sheeran has "used his success rather than been used by it,"[108] Brian Mansfield of USA Today rated the album three-and-a-half stars out of four, calling it one of those "rare album[s] that satisfies expectations while simultaneously raising them," which "showcases the sweet, achingly vulnerable songs" that is a hallmark of Sheeran's work.[103] At American Songwriter, Jim Beviglia rated the album three-and-a-half stars, cautioning how the release shows Sheeran in "somewhat of an identity crisis", yet "it's fascinating to hear him work out whether he's a hopeless romantic or just a guy who thinks romance is hopeless."[109] Gary Graff of The Oakland Press rated the album three stars out of four, stating how this release "expands his sonic palette".[110] At Newsday, Glenn Gamboa graded the album an A-, praising Sheeran because he "manages a remarkably difficult task [of] broadening his sound without losing the immediacy of his raw, intimate tales."[111] Sarah Rodman of The Boston Globe gave a positive review of the album, finding how Sheeran "comes into his own" with the release.[112]

At Rolling Stone, Jon Dolan rated the album three stars out of five, suggesting that "A better album title might have been XXX" and cautioning that the album has "plenty of oversweet ballad moments".[101] Jim Farber of New York Daily News rated the album three stars out of five, writing how "Sheeran can write a hummable tune and, clearly, has something young girls love even more than looks: heart." but had several criticisms including noting how his music was "milky bland", his lyrics "rote and soppy" and the album's sound as a whole was "unconvincing".[113] Writing for musicOMH John Murphy rated the album three stars out of five, noting how "X will undoubtedly be another huge success for Sheeran, and if he can build on its good points, there could be an even better record lurking inside him as well", taking issue with the album's "huge reliance on epic sounding but bland ballad-anthems" which sound "calculated and a little bit cynical".[114] Kitty Empire of The Observer was unimpressed by the album, rating it two stars out of five, and stated Sheeran's writing "[doesn't] actually find a new gear for the love song, just new turns of phrase, at a push." and "has a broad palette but lacks depth". Empire posited that Sheeran "can't cut it as a leading man", ultimately concluding that "Sing is quite easily the best song on x, probably because it sounds nothing like Sheeran".[100] At Drowned in Sound, Dave Hanratty rated the album a four out of ten; criticising the release because it "offers a few lively embers, but never quite ignites", noting that Sheeran lacks any kind of noteworthy identity and the majority of the album "is alternatively as generic and simpering as it gets."[97] The Independent was highly critical of the album; noting the lyrics as a "stolid plod through clichés" having a "serotonin-reducing effect"; and Sheeran and the album as "bleary", "so bland", "without wit or sex appeal" and "authentically uninspiring".[99]

ABC News' Allan Raible found Sheeran spent much of the album "trying to force the groove in the name of pop success," concluding that it was "a mixed bag leaning on the negative side of the equation."[115] Time Out rated the album three stars out of five, saying "There's enough awkward rapping and gooey-eyed sentiment here to put cynical listeners off."[102] The Big Issue was equally scathing in their review, pondering "what the fuss is about" and noted people would "guffaw at his lyrical clunkers", concluding Sheeran's "curious mixture of cocksureness and self-pity is hard to stomach."[116] Lauren Murphy of The Irish Times said Sheeran had an "aptitude for melody" but criticised Sheeran for being "undeniably cliched" and "simply dull".[117] The Sunday Times praised the album as being "deftly assembled" but criticised his "cringe-inducing, rhyming-dictionary clunkiness", noting the album contained "little here is either daring or groundbreaking".[118] Detroit's Metro Times was highly critical, calling the record "torture", "embarrassing" and listening to the album for the review "proved a downright painful experience", ultimately concluding the album's best track was "only slightly unbearable".[119] The Scotsman noted "Sing" was "the tip of a pretty shallow iceberg" and was critical of Sheeran for being "a decent singer but essentially middle of the road".[120] The Edmonton Journal rated the album three out of five, noting with this release Sheeran was "desperately trying to shed his milquetoast image" and ultimately concluding the album as "insipid".[121] PopMatters rated the album six out of ten, acknowledging Sheeran as a "talented wordsmith [who] uses past experiences and stories and moulds them into money making songs that stick in your head for days" but noted some of his songs "lack originality and flare" and criticising Sheeran as "predictable and boring to see another singer songwriter talk about relationships and emotions".[122]


Publication Rank List
Billboard 5 The 10 Best Albums Of 2014[123]
Digital Spy 5 Top Albums of 2014[124]
The Daily Telegraph 1 Best 50 Albums of 2014[125]

Track listing[edit]

X — Standard edition[41][126][127]
No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "One"   Ed Sheeran Jake Gosling 4:13
2. "I'm a Mess"   Sheeran Gosling 4:06
3. "Sing"   Williams 3:55
4. "Don't"  
5. "Nina"  
Gosling 3:43
6. "Photograph"  
  • Sheeran
  • McDaid
7. "Bloodstream"  
Rubin 4:59
8. "Tenerife Sea"  
Rubin 4:00
9. "Runaway"  
  • Sheeran
  • Williams
Williams 3:26
10. "The Man"   Sheeran Gosling 4:09
11. "Thinking Out Loud"  
Gosling 4:40
12. "Afire Love"  
  • Sheeran
  • McDaid
  • Vance
McDaid 5:14
Total length:


All credits taken from album liner notes.[41]



Region Certification Sales/shipments
Argentina (CAPIF)[168] Gold 20,000x
Australia (ARIA)[169] 4× Platinum 280,000^
Austria (IFPI Austria)[170] Gold 7,500x
Canada (Music Canada)[171] 2× Platinum 133,000[93]
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[172] Platinum 20,000^
Germany (BVMI)[173] Platinum 200,000^
Hungary (MAHASZ)[174] Gold 3,000x
Italy (FIMI)[175] Platinum 50,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[176] 4× Platinum 60,000^
Norway (IFPI Norway)[177] Gold 15,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[178] Platinum 20,000*
Sweden (GLF)[179] Platinum 40,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[180] Platinum 20,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[181] 6× Platinum 2,001,000[89]
United States (RIAA)[182] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Australia[183][184] 20 June 2014 Digital download Asylum Records
New Zealand[187][188]
United Kingdom[127][129] 23 June 2014
United States[189][190]

See also[edit]


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