Ed Sheeran managed to rise above all the EDM-influenced noise last year. His moody, acoustic ballad "The A Team" seems like an unlikely pop hit given Top 40's obsession with club music and up-tempo jams.
Somehow, it won pop fans over after its release in 2012, and in the process, nabbed itself a 2013 Grammy Awards nomination for Song of the Year.
And while all of those songs span all styles, Sheeran's ballad is particularly dark, tracing a young woman's battle with addiction. He has said it was inspired by his work at a homeless shelter when he was a teen — deep inspiration for the lead single off his debut album, +.
+ dropped Stateside in the U.S. in June and debuted at #5 on the Billboard charts, an early indication that America was feeling the singer/songwriter. But it's the song, which gained momentum on American radio in the months after the album's release, that has brought the ginger-haired Brit so much attention and accolades.
Of the early interest in his music, he spoke to MTV News about the U.S. buzz, noting he was excited by the good word of mouth the "The A Team" was getting. "I mean it's awesome to be able to have an album that ended up in the top 5 and ended up being a minor hit so far. We're still working on it right now," he said last July. "But to do that without a hit single ... it just gives a lot of space for songs like 'The A Team' and 'Lego House' to work. It's going well."
Since the song dropped, it's gone platinum here in the U.S., selling 1 million copies, and has charted on five Billboard charts, peaking as high as #16 on the all-inclusive Hot 100. It's also seen love on the Pop Songs, Rock Songs, Adult Pop Songs and Adult Contemporary charts. And the single has actually sold more copies in the U.S. than in his native U.K. by nearly double.
His strength as a songwriter was put on full display on the Grammy-nominated tune and has made him a go-to pop songwriter. He wrote tracks for both One Direction albums, and he also co-wrote and sang with Taylor Swift on the Red song, "Everything Has Changed." (He's set to open for her on her tour beginning next month.)
The song will not only take him to the Grammy stage this Sunday, where he will perform with Elton John, but it has already put him on the world's stage. Last summer, he had the honor of playing the Olympics Closing Ceremony along with Pink Floyd.
Still, given all the celebrity, talent and dedicated fans, he still doesn't think he'll win the trophy come February 10.
"I'm pretty sure Fun. will win. I think that song is great," Sheeran said of "We Are Young." "I think there was no other song bigger than that last year, and if you were gonna go by that, they'll win, but I'm usually good at calling these things."
Does Ed Sheeran have what it takes to join the Grammys "A Team"? Sound off in the comments!
Keep checking back with MTV News for all things 2013 Grammy Awards, and follow us on Twitter @MTVNews for the latest on Sunday's big event!