NEW YORK (AP) -- Ed Sheeran never wanted to be in a boy band, but when he wrote a song called "Moments" when he was 15, he knew it would someday be a perfect song for a male group.
Luckily for Sheeran, his friends — the English pop quintet One Direction — needed a song, and asked the breakthrough singer to send something their way.
"It was always a song that I always intended for a boy band. I was like, `This is my boy band song, but I'm never going to sing it,'" Sheeran, now 21, recalled. "I just held on to it for a long period of time."
"Moments," a pop ballad, made its way to One Direction's platinum-selling debut album, "Up All Night," released in March, as a bonus track.
He's teaming up again with One Direction for the group's sophomore album, and recently wrote and recorded songs with Taylor Swift for her upcoming fourth album, "Red." He was tight-lipped about the collaboration, but said the experience was a "breath of fresh air" because of Swift's colossal success.
"As a person, Taylor's such a sweetheart," he said in a recent interview. "(She's) the perfect example of what musicians should be and how they should work and react. She just loves music and she's not in it for anything else."
English-born Sheeran says he has over 100 tracks dedicated to other acts. But he isn't just providing tunes for others; he's busy promoting his own songs.
His debut album, "+," has sold more than 1 million units in the United Kingdom since its release last September. It was released in the United States in June, where it debuted at No. 5 on Billboard's Top 200 albums chart.
He describes his sound as a mix of "folk, acoustic, hip-hop, soul, everything." His influences range from Damien Rice to James Morrison to Jay-Z.
"I started rapping probably before I started singing," said Sheeran, who will kick off the "VH1 You Oughta Know Tour With Ed Sheeran" on Sept. 8 in Orlando, Fla. "I was really into Eminem when ... `The Slim Shady LP' came out. ... I wasn't allowed to have it `cause he swears a lot."
Sheeran performed during the closing ceremony at the Olympics and was one of the acts to take the stage at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee concert in June.
When he was shopping for a record deal, the red-haired singer said he was told to switch his style to sound like James Blunt, who had just topped the charts with the smash "You're Beautiful."
"They didn't want to hear songs about homeless prostitutes," Sheeran said, referring to his debut single and Top 5 U.K. hit, "The A Team."
"To have that (success) on a song that I was told wouldn't even be played on radio, it's quite nuts," he added.
His tour wraps Oct. 6 in Seattle.
Follow Mesfin Fekadu on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/musicmesfin
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