Did Ed Sheeran really just release new music from his third studio album “Divide” in the middle of the night in the United States?
Yes, he did. And fans time zones away — way across The Pond (and plenty stateside, too) — went nuts. #WelcomeBackEd was trending within 15 minutes of the 5 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time release.
Sheeran had been MIA for more than a year, when he announced in December 2015 that he was taking a much-deserved sabbatical from the public eye and the vast world of social media.
He briefly came out of hiding over the summer just in time for Red Nose Day — but not on his own account. British producer Ben Winston, now of “Late Late Show with James Corden” fame but previously a behind-the-scenes guy for One Direction, posted a video of Sheeran’s whereabouts.
Sheeran delivered on his promise.
After that, he appeared on bestie Taylor Swift’s Instagram.
But he mostly remained AWOL until New Year’s Day dawned in London. The singer-songwriter surprised his fans with news that he was finally releasing fresh tunes for the first time since his second album, “X,” hit worldwide digital services on June 23, 2014.*
*We’re not counting the singles on which he collaborated with artists because those don’t really matter, do they? (OK, they do if you’ve been waiting forever.)
In the days leading up to late Thursday’s release, Sheeran tweeted clips of a pair of singles, now known to be “Castle on the Hill” and “Shape of You,” but didn’t include sound until Thursday morning.
Welcome back, Ed. Now give us that album release date.