What makes a songwriter popular? In other words, how do we account for artists like Ed Sheeran? Sappy, sentimental, posturing but, above all, disingenuous, Sheeran’s made a career of confusing infatuation with love, and honesty with cleverness. Sheeran’s known for co-opting styles — sometimes he raps, sometimes he talk sings, sometimes he sort of croons — and muddling genres: sleek, electronic productions with country, dance and various regional music flourishes are his bread and butter. There must be something about how these parts come together and how that collection speaks to a certain soft spot hidden deep down in the pleasure centers of his fan base (which, it should be said, is huge). The individual components might not look like much, but this artist commands legions of admirers who’ve catapulted him into wealth and fame. Sheeran regularly sells out stadium tours. His singles break records on streaming services. Scoff all you want at the motivations behind his songwriting. Feel free to mock the way he stumbles in and out of hooks, the way can make a lumpy mess of a silken melody. But for whatever reason, Sheeran’s able to do what most musicians can’t: write songs that connect humans across continents, make music that gives birth to adoration and devotion. Now, how could you not respect that?