Never before has anyone done what Ed Sheeran did this week.
On Friday, the 25-year-old British crooner dropped two new singles. Less than a week later, those songs debuted on the Billboard+ Twitter Top Tracks chart.
At the same time.
It’s a first for the chart, which saw Sheeran’s “Shape of You” in the top spot, closely followed by his “Castle on the Hill.”
According to Billboard, the list was first compiled in June of 2014 and ranks songs weekly based on the number of times they’ve been shared on Twitter in the United States.
— billboard (@billboard) January 12, 2017
It should be noted that even though Sheeran is the first to debut songs in the top spots, he’s not the first to hold those two spots simultaneously. Previously, Shawn Mendes held the top spots with “Ruin,” which was joined by his new song, “Bad Reputation,” in the second spot.
Sheeran’s success with “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill” comes after Sheeran’s year-long break from the music industry. After going silent on his social media accounts at the end of 2015, Sheeran returned to the spotlight at the end of December. On Jan. 1, Sheeran teased his upcoming singles on Instagram. The songs were released on Friday.
Sheeran’s return to music was received well, and according to Forbes, Sheeran broke the streaming record on Spotify with both singles. During the first 24 hours, “Shape of You” earned 6,868,642 streams, while “Castle on the Hill” earned 6,168,395 plays. The previous record, held by One Direction’s single “Drag Me Down,” was 4,759,698 plays.
In addition to dropping new songs, Sheeran has spent much of the year teasing his new album, ÷. The album, which is pronounced “divide,” follows the theme of his previous albums: X from 2015 and + from 2011.
According to Ed, ÷ is set to release on March 3. Presale for the album begins at midnight on Friday.
Ed’s much-anticipated new music follows what Sheeran calls his gap year, during which he chose to travel the world and experience new places. The 25-year-old singer admits that traveling the world may seem a bit odd for a guy who has toured for a living, but Sheeran notes that often he only gets to see hotels when he plays a city.
“I never really saw anything other than a hotel room, a venue and a bar [while touring], so I wanted to go traveling properly,” Sheeran said during a radio interview on the BBC Radio 1 The Breakfast Club. “No one really cares about me in Japan. There are like two people that like me in Japan…I specifically picked places that I wasn’t really liked.”
— ֆȶɨʟʟ ⚗️ (@illroots) January 13, 2017
During his travels, Sheeran visited Ghana, Australia, and Iceland, and the thrill-seeker said he did things like go white water rafting, bungee jumping, and swimming with sharks. Sheeran added that, during his trips, he gained a lot of weight — before he chose to start working out and cut beer from his diet.
But now that he’s finished traveling for pleasure, Sheeran has gotten back down to business, and he’s looking forward to promoting his newest music in the months ahead.
And next time, he won’t take such a long vacation, he said during his Breakfast Club interview.
“The next time I take a break, it will be two weeks, not a year.”
What do you think of Ed Sheeran’s new singles, “Shape of You” and “Castle on the Hill?” Are you surprised the songs have gained popularity so quickly? Why or why not?
[Featured Image by John Phillips/Getty Images Entertainment]