"Is Ed Sheeran sexy?"
Jay Cridlin, our pop music/culture critic, was on the phone with singer James Blunt, who is opening for Sheeran at Amalie Arena on Tuesday. But Jay could have been talking to anyone.
It's the quest he's taken this week, trying to unlock the appeal of a divisive figure in pop culture. Somewhere between the guitar, sweet warble, cargo shorts and tats, some think Sheeran has a certain something. Some people, uh, do not.
Then there's his boldest physical feature — that mop of bright red hair. The British superstar embraces his ginger status, and has even claimed to have improved the love lives of redheaded men. "There are a lot of ginger dudes in England who are using me," he said in one interview.
When it comes to redhead supporters, we have a noted office adherent. Our features copy editor, Alexa Volland (brown hair), routinely talks about her admiration of redheads.
"I think it all started after seeing my first Harry Potter movie in theaters," she said. "I was 11, and Rupert Grint was the most beautiful boy I had ever seen. I had his picture framed next to my bed. When I was 13, I was convinced I could find and befriend him on MySpace."
It never worked out between Alexa and Rupert, sadly. But in light of Sheeran's visit, I asked for her list of under-appreciated redheads in pop culture.
Eddie Redmayne: "Despite critically-acclaimed performances in The Danish Girl, The Theory of Everything and Les Misérables, Eddie Redmayne (literally pronounced red mane) is one of the most underrated actors, period. Those freckles. That hair. It doesn't hurt that Redmayne also has a reputation for being one of the nicest actors."
Domhnall Gleeson: "While Grint is the most notable redhead from the Harry Potter series, the Irish actor who played Ron Weasley's brother, Bill, has some glorious ginger tresses. Gleeson, son of Brendan Gleeson, has been in The Revenant, Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Ex Machina."
Simon Woods: "He hasn't been in much, but his role as Mr. Bingley in 2005's Pride & Prejudice was enough to make this list. Google 'hot redhead actor,' and there he is in the top row."
Kristofer Hivju: "While he might play crazy-eyed, haggard wildling Tormund Giantsbane on Game of Thrones, he cleans up nicely on the red carpet. The Norwegian actor has the reddest hair of anyone on this list, and a jawline so strong it could claim the Iron Throne."
Rose Leslie: "When you think of redhead female actors, Emma Stone, Isla Fisher, Amy Adams and Julianne Moore come to mind. I'm calling it now: Rose Leslie will have that same name recognition. The Scottish beauty played Ygritte in Game of Thrones and Gwen Harding in Downton Abbey. Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow on GoT, also has a thing for redheads. He and Leslie have been dating since 2012."