English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran was born in Halifax, West Yorkshire, before moving to Framlingham, Suffolk. He began writing songs during his time at the local Thomas Mills High School.Sheeran began recording in 2005, and released his first EP, The Orange Room EP, that year. After moving to London in 2008, he concentrated on performing and the following year, he played 312 gigs over a space of 12 months. In February 2010 he released his fifth EP, Loose Change, which features the original recording of this dark story of a drug addict from a homeless shelter. Sheeran signed for Atlantic Records in January 2011 and released this song as the first single from his debut album on June 12, 2011.
The song is a true story and was written by Sheeran after meeting a girl called Angel whilst volunteering at a Crisis homeless shelter. The song became the highest selling debut single on the UK singles charts in the first half of 2011. He told The Sun July 15, 2011: "I wrote that song last year in a student flat in Guildford. I recorded it for less than £200 and made the video for under £20. In two weeks we'd sold 200,000 copies. I've made a song about a homeless prostitute who has been able to get on A-list radio."
When Sheeran made a video to accompany the original recording of this song in 2010, it cost him only £20 to make. Young photographer Ruskin Kyle shot the clip on location in Angel, London. in north London, and Camden, in the northwest. The video stars actresses Selina MacDonald, as "Angel," and Katy Brady, as her housemate.
Sheeran told the story of the song to Q magazine: "I played at a Christmas gig for the homeless charity Crisis. I met this homeless there and her story inspired me to write a song. I wrote a tune about a similar situation, not entirely based on her, because I didn't want to pinch someone else's story."
Sheeran told Q magazine: "After it got into the charts I got lots of messages from parents saying that something similar had happened to their daughters. When I wrote it I never thought that it would connect with so many people, but it's great it has."
+ debuted at #1 and was the ninth biggest-selling album of 2011 in the UK. The album returned to the peak position on the album chart on January 1, 2012, and for a second time on January 29, 2012. The 20,607 copies sold on the latter date marked the lowest weekly sales for a chart-topping LP since the Levellers' Zeitgeist reached the summit in 1995 with sales of 13,885.
Sheeran told Q magazine about the video: "I was living with this amazing actress and she had a friend who wanted to make a music video for me. So I said, 'Cool, give him The a Team and she said, 'I'd love to play Angel.' So we had a meeting and they said, 'Well, we need to buy a crack pipe and some fishnets. So I gave them £20. They went off for a week, rang me once to do a cameo, then came back with the finished video."
Sheeran explained the song title to Billboard magazine in a video interview: "A drug like crack cocaine is called a 'class A' drug. That's in the same category as heroin. Instead of making it clear and just saying what the problem was, I'd say, 'She's in the 'class A' team.' It was kind of my way of covering up (a person's addiction), I guess, making it a bit more subtle."
This was named best song musically and lyrically at the 57th Ivor Novello Awards. The honors are one of the highest regarded within the UK music industry as they are voted for by a pool of songwriters and composers.
+ debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200. In doing so, Sheeran broke a US chart record by scoring the highest ever debut for a British male on the countdown. Thom Yorke bowed at #2 with his first solo album The Eraser on July 29, 2006, but he's previously charted with his band Radiohead.
+ debuted at #1 on Billboard's Folk Albums chart. The best known symbol to grace a Billboard chart summit was the artist formerly and currently known as Prince, who temporarily changed his stage name to an unpronounceable symbol known as "The Love Symbol" in the 1990s.
Sheeran gave a triumphant performance of the song in a duet with Elton John during the 2013 Grammys. Host LL Cool quipped that Sheeran and John made a perfect "A Team."
In 2014, Sheeran told Entertainment Weekly: "'The A Team' opened up every single door for me that needed to be opened. I wrote it in 2009 when I was 18, but it didn't break until I was 20 or 21, so I performed it for three years to pretty much complete obscurity. I played a lot of R&B clubs and soul gigs and hip-hop nights, and that was the one song they'd like. If you asked me in 2009 what was my best song, it would have been, like, 15th on the list.