British singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran surprised fans by releasing two new songs on Friday, drawn from his forthcoming third album.
The 25-year-old, who won the song of the year Grammy award in 2016 for his ballad "Thinking Out Loud," had been on a year-long hiatus from the music scene and social media.
But he announced on New Year's Day that he would be unveiling some new sounds on Friday.
"Shape of You" and "Castle On The Hill" had been played more than a million times on YouTube within hours of their release.
"Castle On The Hill" is described as a "love song for Suffolk" in eastern England, where Sheeran grew up, while "Shape Of You" was originally intended for Rihanna.
The guitar-playing star confirmed he recorded some of the new album on a cruise ship, but joked he went hungry because he did not have a "dinner suit."
"My biggest market in the world is the Philippines and every staff member on the boat was Filipino so I just had a wave of people come to my room every five minutes asking for selfies," he added.
He spoke about the new scar on his face — reportedly caused by Princess Beatrice, a granddaughter of Queen Elizabeth II, pretending to knight singer James Blunt with a ceremonial sword as Sheeran was standing nearby.
"I don't know if I can talk about that," he told BBC radio.
"I have been telling people that it was James Blunt trying to get the pop career back. He's been telling me to say that."
Sheeran became an international superstar through "Thinking Out Loud," a ballad that turned into a wedding favourite.
The song was the first to reach 500 million streams on Spotify and Sheeran's album "X" is one of the top-selling British albums so far this century.