What Genre is Ed Sheeran?

Ed Sheeran’s music straddles between pop, folk-pop, soft-rock, and singer-songwriter. He also collaborates with artists from different genres, ranging from grime to hip-hop.

Ed Sheeran is an enormously popular musician, having sold over 150 million records worldwide. He is most commonly regarded as a pop musician, which is supported by the Grammy he received for Best Pop Solo Performance in 2016. His music straddles several different genres, which I will explain a little in this article.


Pop music as a genre should be considered separate from popular music. While the terms pop music and popular music are often used interchangeably, popular music can encompass a variety of genres and styles.

Pop music, on the other hand, is a separate genre that emerged in the 1950s.

Some of the ways in which pop distinguishes itself from other genres include the use of repeated choruses and hooks, as well as rhythm and tempos that are easy to dance to.

The genre also borrows many elements from other genres and styles, including dance, Latin, country, and urban.

While not all of Sheeran’s music falls under the pop category, he is overwhelmingly a pop musician.

His single “Thinking Out Loud” from his second studio album, “X”, won him the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance in 2016. He also won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Solo Performance for “Shape of You” in 2018, as well as the Grammy Award for the Best Pop Vocal Album for “÷” in the same year. Other songs in this genre include “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You.” 


Folk-pop is a genre that straddles the line between contemporary folk and pop music. It usually fits into one of two categories: folk music that features large, sweeping pop arrangements, or pop music that features more intimate, acoustic-based folk arrangements. 

A lot of Sheeran’s music incorporates folk sounds into his pop style.

This is particularly prominent in his third album, “÷”. Songs like “Galway Girl” feature a combination of Sheeran’s pop style while also incorporating folk elements through the use of fiddle and backing vocals that have a chanting style. Other songs that incorporate folk music to create a folk-pop sound are “Nancy Mulligan” and “Dive” (also from the album “÷”), as well as “The A Team,” Sheeran’s debut solo single.


Soft-rock is directly derived from the incredibly popular Pop-rock genre. It originated in the late 60s in Southern California. It is best defined as a genre that incorporates simple but melodic songs with big productions.

Many of Ed Sheeran’s songs are considered Soft-rock due to the very nature and sound of his tunes. Most of them apply simple yet catchy melodies with a strong emphasis on music production.

Soft-rock went through some changes over the years but eventually morphed into a form of the synthesized music of adult contemporary in the 80s.


Sheeran is a prolific songwriter and has written all of his own songs (aside from covers), as well as songs for other artists. 

Sheeran’s writing credits include all four of his own albums “–” “+”, “x”, and “÷”, and No. 6 Collaborations Project.

He has also written for other artists, including One Direction (“18”, “Little Things”, “Moments”), James Blunt (“Time of Our Lives”, “Make Me Better”), Alicia Keys (“Underdog”), Hilary Duff (“Tattoo”), Justin Bieber (“Love Yourself”), and Kenny Chesney (“Tip of my Tongue”). He has twice won the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year, winning in 2015 and 2018.


Sheeran’s music falls under the pop, folk-pop, soft-rock, and singer-songwriter categories. However, Sheeran is also known for his wide range of collaborations with other musicians across genres. These collaborations have resulted in music that falls under the grime and hip-hop genres.


Developed in London in the early 2000s, grime is an electronic music genre that evolved from the UK garage style of electronic music. This genre is epitomized by the use of rapid, syncopated breakbeats, as well as an aggressive or jagged electronic sound. 

Grime is influenced by various other music styles, including jungle, dancehall, and hip-hop. 

In 2011, Sheeran released No. 5 Collaborations Project, his fourth EP. Each song featured a collaboration with a different grime artist, including Wiley, Devlin, and P Money. The resultant EP straddles the space between Sheeran’s characteristic pop and grime.


Developed in the Bronx in the 1970s, hip-hop is characterized by the use of rhythmic music that is usually (though not always) accompanied by rapping. Rap is often used interchangeably with hip-hop. However, rap is not a requirement of hip-hop.

Other elements of hip-hop culture are often incorporated into hip-hop music, including DJs, turntables, beatboxing, and the use of instrumental tracks.

Sheeran’s fourth studio album, No. 6 Collaborations Project, saw him collaborate with various artists. Each track on the album saw him collaborate with different artist or artists. While the artists on this album ranged over various genres, Sheeran heavily collaborated with hip-hop artists on several tracks. These include collaborations with well-known hip-hop artists Eminem, Stormzy, Chance the Rapper, and 50 Cent.


Ed Sheeran is one of the best-selling and most popular musicians of all time. Overall, Sheeran’s music falls under the score of pop, folk-pop, soft-rock, and singer-songwriter genres. However, his frequent collaborations with other artists mean that he also has plenty of music that fits into other genres like hip-hop and grime.

Featured image of Ed Sheeran by Markus Hillgärtner, http://www.markushillgaertner.de / CC BY-SA

Brian Clark

Brian Clark

I’ve been a writer with Musician Wave for six years, turning my 17-year journey as a multi-instrumentalist and music producer into insightful news, tutorials, reviews, and features.

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