It’s time we all accepted that James Blunt is good, argues Madeleine Chapman.
“I woke up this morning and realised all I do is apologise for a song I wrote in 2005.”
The song he wrote in 2005 was ‘You’re Beautiful’ and James Blunt is nothing if not self-aware. The above line is the opening lyric to Blunt’s 2017 song, ‘2005’, a reflection on his polarising career. The song is honest, and an Easter egg for long-time fans (like myself) who definitely would listen to his fifth album in full.
Humans would rather take advantage of someone else than risk being taken advantage of. It’s a survival instinct. Attack is the best form of defence and all that. It’s also the only possible explanation (in my mind) for the anti-Blunt rhetoric. Blunt caught the world off-guard with ‘You’re Beautiful’ and the world retaliated.
Even back then, with only one hit single under his belt, Blunt seamlessly slotted into a subgenre alongside David Gray, Snow Patrol, Keane, and The Fray. The subgenre was “songs you might hear on an emotional episode of Grey’s Anatomy and think ‘oh that’s quite nice’”. So why didn’t he stay there?
Because ‘You’re Beautiful’ was played approximately two trillion times on the radio and sent everyone into a rage. That’s it. That’s the whole story.
If you’re someone who can’t seem to get past your personal grievances against a song from 15 years ago, let me help. Deep down, everyone’s a James Blunt fan. And if you think you aren’t, it’s simply because you haven’t realised it yet.
Emo music is in. The world is drowning, we’re all surrounded by idiots, at some point we’ll realise we’re the idiots. Why wouldn’t you want to unwind with an incredibly sad song? Far better than he does a sad love song, Blunt is the master of the sad sad song. Sometimes hard to couple with his stubbornly piss-taking social media presence, Blunt’s songs about loss, grief, and just getting by are unparalleled. ‘Same Mistake’, my favourite of all his songs, comes from the sophomore album All The Lost Souls and includes this chilled out verse.
And so I sent some men to fight
And one came back at dead of night
Said he’d seen my enemy
Said he looked just like me
So I set out to cut myself
And here I go
Oh you’re saying you don’t want to weep on the bus on your way to work? *Quietly puts Eva Cassidy album away*. I don’t understand but James Blunt does. When Jason Mraz took over the world in 2008 with ‘I’m Yours’, Blunt watched like an uncle watching a minor Olympic sport and said “I could do that”. And he did.
Blunt began his career with an incredibly emo album, and while he maintains a thread of melancholy throughout his subsequent albums, there’s no shortage of genre exploration. In other words, there’s something for everyone!
Ed Sheeran fans
Somehow Ed Sheeran slipped through the cracks of true global disdain, but Blunt had no such luck. They’re really not that different! They even wrote a song together! ‘Make Me Better’, from the 2017 album The Afterlove, sounds like it could be an Ed Sheeran song because it is. And if he sang it, it would probably have been a smash hit.
Taylor Swift fans
‘California’ would be right at home on any number of recent pop albums. It wasn’t released as a single (I think it should have been) and it’s flown under the radar but ‘California’ is a certified bop. 2017 James Blunt walked so 2019 Taylor Swift could run.
House music fans
Yeah, baby. It’s James Blunt in the club. I actually haven’t really listened to this tropical house banger from Blunt and Robin Schulz but it’s had nearly 300 million plays on Spotify and would they lie to you? Blunt himself has lived in Ibiza and loves the club scene so it’s almost surprising it took this long for him to have a hit there. The man’s got range.
New Zealand patriots
Wanna know how James Blunt closed his multi-platinum debut album that has sold over 11 million copies worldwide? With a bloody cover of a bloody New Zealand song. Crowded House’s ‘Fall At Your Feet’ has had many covers and, to be fair, most are good. It’s hard to butcher a near perfect song. But Blunt’s version at the end of Back to Bedlam works. It works so well that when my 11-year-old self was listening to the album on repeat, I assumed it was a Blunt original. James Blunt is Crowded House and Crowded House is James Blunt. I don’t make the rules.
Second chances are rare in this world and forgiveness is a beautiful thing. Blunt’s new album is out today. Take that leap you’ve been meaning to take for years. Your leap was probably ‘go skydiving’ or ‘do a bungee jump’ but that’s boring. This weekend, take the leap and embrace James Blunt with an open mind and an open heart. I guarantee* you’ll find something you like.
You probably are a fan of James Blunt, you just don’t know it yet.
*Guarantee not legally binding.
The Spinoff Weekly compiles the best stories of the week – an essential guide to modern life in New Zealand, emailed out on Monday evenings.