Ed Sheeran is making one thing clear—he wants to be number one.
Weeks ahead of the debut of his third studio album, Divide, the two-time Grammy Award winner has his eye on the top spot of the charts.
"There are a lot of singer-songwriters around now. I'm not the first but there are more than before. I'm very happy for everyone to be in the same race as me, even if they copy every single thing I've done," he said in the March issue of British GQ. "In a 100m sprint to get a No1 album I just know I'm going to win. I don't care who's doing what. I just know I'm going to win. I'm going to make sure I come first."
However, according to Sheeran, there is one person he has to beat—his fellow British singer, Adele.
"Adele is the one person who's sold more records than me in the past ten years. She's the only person I need to sell more records than. That's a big f--king feat because her last album sold 20 million. But if I don't set her as the benchmark then I'm selling myself short," he continued to the magazine. "I'm not in competition [creatively] because we all sit in our own lanes, but once the creative product is out there is a race to the finish line."
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The "Shape of You" singer attributes his fierce drive in part to his younger years as an unpopular student, something he and his close pal and pop icon Taylor Swift have in common.
"There's an underdog element to it," he explained. "Taylor [Swift] was never the popular kid in school. I was never the popular kid in school. Then you get to the point when you become the most popular kid in school—and we both take it a bit too far," he said.
"She wants to be the biggest female artist in the world and I want to be the biggest male artist in the world. It also comes from always being told that you can't do something and being like, 'F--k you. I can.'"
Even being on the cover of British GQ feels like a milestone moment for the star, who was "considered unattractive" as a young man.
"There's always a stigma with ginger people, and I was definitely considered unattractive when I was younger," he admitted to the magazine. "But now I'm on the f--king cover of GQ!"