Ed Sheeran shakes off his detractors as his tour rolls in Tacoma

Ed Sheeran rides a massive wave of popularity while touring for his latest album, “Divide.”

When fans tuned into the season premiere of “Game of Thrones” earlier this month, many found themselves pulled out of the fantasy realm of direwolves and dragons by pop star Ed Sheeran.

Sheeran’s jarring turn as a soldier with golden pipes and an impish, knowing grin might have been the ultimate GoT fanboy’s dream come true, but it set the internet aflame with backlash almost immediately. The hostility was enough to cause Sheeran to delete his Twitter account, though it’s back up now but inactive.

It’s not exactly a shocking reaction given that Sheeran recently described his single “Galway Girl” as Marmite, the British yeast condiment with the marketing slogan “Love it or hate it.” People either seem to love him (his multiplatinum album “Divide” helped drive U.K. music sales up 10 percent from last year) or truly loathe him, with no middle ground between the two extremes.

Concert preview

Ed Sheeran and James Blunt

7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Dome, 2727 E D St., Tacoma; sold out (253-272-3663, tacomadome.org).

So why does Sheeran, who plays the Tacoma Dome on Saturday, engender such strong negative reactions? The answer likely lies in his potential as an artist and a cognitive dissonance between his appearance and his mass appeal. In plain English, some critics seem awfully mad he’s chosen to write mainstream pop music instead of something more “authentic,” while others can’t seem to reconcile how a short, pasty, red-haired goof has become a sex symbol.

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Two singles from “Divide” do a good job of illustrating the simultaneous frustration and joy of Sheeran’s music and personality. On the aforementioned “Galway Girl,” Sheeran cleverly repackages…

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