James Blunt meets the necessary conditions to be considered a “one-hit wonder”. He admits it in his Twitter bio: “Proof that a single song is all you need.” Although the English musician’s career continues – he released his sixth album in 2019 – the truth is that his greatest success was and will always be “You’re Beautiful”, that romantic and cloying ballad that he released on his debut album, Back to Bedlam (2004), whose introduction to acoustic guitar became the leitmotif of several love stories of the time.
“You’re Beautiful” sounded even in the rudimentary ringtones of cell phones back then. Back to Bedlam It became the best-selling album of that year in the United Kingdom -then it would be the decade- and they decided to release the song as a single in 2005: in the United States alone it sold more than 3 million copies. In the video clip, Blunt himself presented himself to the world with his blue eyes staring at the camera under heavy snowfall. As he sings each verse of the song, he takes off his jacket, diver, T-shirt, slippers, leaves his belongings on the ground and throws himself off a cliff into the sea. A true act of love in the middle of European winter.
Beyond reaching that peak of popularity in the mid-2000s, there is life before and after “You’re Beautiful.” Blunt is actually called James Hillier Blount, he was born on February 22, 1974 in a small English military town of just over 10,000 inhabitants called Tidworth, in Hampshire. In fact, he is one of its illustrious citizens. Before becoming a professional musician he was an officer in the British Army in the Life Guards regiment and in 1999 he participated with NATO in the Kosovo War.
The Blount family has a long history of military service, more precisely since the 10th century, when their ancestors came from Denmark to England. Without going any further, James’s father was a cavalry officer and later a helicopter pilot, which forced the whole family to move every two years to remote places on the map following the military posts of Colonial Charles Blount: Middle Wallop, Netheravon, York, Nicosia, Soest. James is also a pilot – he earned his license at age 16 – and in 1996 he became a BA with honors in Sociology.
His musical training was also early. He began with piano and violin lessons when he was a child but was key when he learned the electric guitar at the age of 14. He wrote songs in his spare time while in the military. In fact, in Kosovo he played several times for the troops and the locals, and in those days of the war he wrote the song “No Bravery”. Through a music friend she brought a demo to Elton John’s manager, Todd Interland, and that’s how her career began. In 2002, he was forced to leave the uniform to focus fully on his artistic side, but he continued to collaborate with the NGO Doctors without Borders through auctions at their concerts.
Based on a true story
“You’re Beatiful” is a simple and true story. It occurred to him when he saw his ex-girlfriend in the subway with his new partner, a scene that broke her heart. Blunt says he wrote it in two minutes and finished shaping it with the help of composers Sacha Skarbek and Amanda Ghost.
It begins with a joke: “My life is brilliant,” he says twice in a row, almost as if by accident. And he continues: “I saw an angel / I’m sure of that / He smiled at me on the subway / I was with another man / But I won’t lose sleep because of that / Because I have a plan.” That plan, however, is never revealed, it does not exist. Or maybe it’s just remembering it. “But it’s time to face the truth / I’ll never be with you,” he resigned about the closure. And it causes more than a sigh.
However, earlier last year he explained in statements to The Guardian that the song was always portrayed as “romantic” but is actually “a little creepy.” “It’s about a guy (me) who’s high and stalking someone else’s girlfriend on the subway,” he said. The part about being high brought him some trouble to play on the radio so he had to change the verse “fucking high” (fucking high) for “flying high” (flying high).
Nothing stopped the overwhelming success of “You’re Beautiful”, the song that allowed him to tour around the world, this time as a musician. Europe, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Latin America … The hit took him to unexpected places and generated a good fan base to continue publishing music. He even sang it at Elton John and David Furnish’s wedding. Then more records came: All the Lost Souls (2007), Some Kind of Trouble (2010), Moon Landing (2013) and the list goes on. However, none of them achieved the significance of the first.
Blunt, the aristocrat
In 2014 his life took another turn. September 6 married Sofia Wellesley, granddaughter of Valerian Wellesley, 8th Duke of Wellington, and entered the British aristocracy. Her previous brush with the Crown had been with Prince Harry, whom she met in the Navy. That is why he could be seen at the royal wedding of the prince and Meghan Markle by the hand of his wife Sofia, one of the most photographed of the event. Like little, the couple’s eldest son is godfather Ed Sheeran, a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Beyond their private activities, Sofia and James restored an old pub near the Chelsea field in London, which is attended by soccer fans to royalty. They, however, spend most of the year at their home in Ibiza, Spain.
The singer-songwriter has another facet that he discovered in recent years with the arrival of social networks: his irony. As a good Englishman, his humor is acidic and he became known for being a great responder for trolls on Twitter. In fact, in full quarantine, he edited How To Be A Complete and Utter Blunt: Diary of a Reluctant Social Media Sensation (How to be a complete and absolute forceful: diary of a sensation reluctant to social networks), a kind of biography with his best tweet “clapbacks” (replicas).
“With the invention of Twitter, I was able to respond to comments, so instead of taking them seriously, I thought about laughing, and not just laughing at them, but laughing at myself,” he explained. About the book, he clarified: “The second wave of the virus is already with us. People bought toilet paper in panic and there is a shortage. This book is designed to be read sitting on the toilet and the pages are used accordingly later.”
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