On 21st May 2015 Ed Sheeran collected the Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year.

The Ivor Novello Award for Songwriter of the Year acknowledges a songwriter that has written an outstanding body of work released during the award year. It has been presented annually since 1969.

Originally commissioned to appear in the award ceremony programme, music journalist Mark Sutherland, profiles the songwriter’s achievements:

Later this summer, this year’s recipient of the prestigious Songwriter of the Year will headline three nights at Wembley Stadium. Ed Sheeran has already announced his intention to play the 80,000-capacity shows the way he usually does; just him and his guitar. But then he knows he doesn’t need gimmicks to fill even that cavernous stadium. What will fill Wembley three times over is the thing that has filled Sheeran’s gigs since he first started playing as a teenager back in 2005: his songs.

And throughout 2014, Sheeran’s second album X proved the enduring power of a great song collection. From the moment irresistible lead single Sing (co-written with Pharrell Williams) shot to Number One in April, giving him his first UK chart-topper, X has proved to be a blockbuster of epic proportions. In an era of generally shrinking album sales, X’s statistics are remarkable. Despite only being released in late June, it sold 1.7 million UK copies in 2014, the first album to sell more than a million copies in a calendar year since Emeli Sandé’s Our Version Of Events in 2012, and the biggest total for an artist album since Adele’s 21 in 2011. It spent 12 weeks at Number One and never left the Top Six during 2014.

The album also became an international phenomenon. Sheeran became Spotify’s most streamed global artist of the year and X its most-streamed album, while the album also hit Number One in the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland, Germany, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.

None of which, of course, would mean too much if the songs weren’t up to scratch. But X proves that Sheeran brings much more to the party than his own self-deprecating reference to “Singing about love/And where it goes wrong” (on album-opener One) suggests. Because X is an album that contains both the salacious groove of Don’t and the sensitive Alzheimer’s Disease exposition of Afire Love. An album that’s equally at home with the rap flow of Take It Back as with the classic balladry of Thinking Out Loud (the second UK Number One single from the album). And an album by an artist who, somehow, also found time to co-write excellent songs for the likes of One Direction, Jessie Ware and Rixton.

It’s that versatility that means X is an album that has already made millions of people dance, cry and think. And it’s that consistency that means that Sheeran is a songwriter likely to fill stadiums for decades to come.

Mark Sutherland (c) 2015