No. 45: James Blunt, “You’re Beautiful”

noah | October 21, 2009 3:00 pm

And now, 45 answers to the question that will no doubt result from this entry: “How is James Blunt’s 2005 ode to a stolen glance on the Underground not higher than No. 45 on a worst songs of the ’00s list? Really now.”

1. It was only No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. 2. It was unseated by Ne-Yo! That’s an Idolator success story right there. 3. Even though it seems like it stuck around forever, thanks to incessant licensing. 4. Its success led to Linda “And I Say HEYYY AYYY AYY YEAH YEAH” Perry lecturing The New York Times on the dangers of pop songs’ ubiquity. 5. It brought British artists back to the chart’s summit for the first time since “Candle In The Wind 1997.” And nobody had to die! Well, before its release, anyway. 6. People who found it irritating enough to make the top 10 of a Rolling Stone poll of annoying songs only found it slightly more objectionable than the Spice Girls’ awesome “Wannabe.” 7. But less so than Lou Bega’s “Mambo No. 5.” 8. (Which came out in 1999 and is thus ineligible for this poll, in case you were wondering.) 9. Somehow, Blunt only says the phrase “You’re beautiful” nine times during the course of the song. But it seems like so many more, I know. 10. When asked about the song’s origins by Oprah Winfrey, James answered that they were “kind of miserable” while grinning. Oh, those Brits! 11. In the original edit of the song, James was “fucking high”; in the much-more-popular radio edit, he was “flying high.” So wait, is he on drugs or full of himself? Hmm. 12. The piano part is pretty. 13. And when you think about it in the grand scheme of things, “You’re Beautiful” is not that bad. 14. No, really, it’s not! 15. Play this back-to-back with [REDACTED HIGHER-RANKING SONG] and [REDACTED HIGHER-RANKING SONG] later this week and you’ll see what I mean. 16. And it’s probably at least on irritating-earworm par with whatever song is playing in your local Walgreen’s right now. 17. Although his Rod Stewart affectations are kind of irritating. 18. At least this song doesn’t utilize the production techniques of, say, “Downtown Train,” though. 19. Nevertheless, when he takes his flying leap off the cliff at the end of the video you’re kind of hoping he succeeds in his dramatic mission. 20. OK, OK. Let me think. 21. … 22. Hm … 23. He has nice lips! 24. And good hair. 25. Great hair, even. 26. “It was about seeing my ex-girlfriend on the Underground in London with her new man who I didn’t know existed. She and I caught eyes and lived a lifetime in that moment, but didn’t do anything about it and haven’t seen each other since,” James told O when asked about the song’s meaning. Who among us can’t relate? 27. Then again, its bland longing is so universal, other people think it’s about first love. 28. Maybe this is why Blunt later called the song “one of the least meaningful songs on the album and by no means people’s favorite”? 29. Of course, in the same interview, he compared himself to Bob Dylan, so all bets are off. 30. And said “Commercialism is an ugly thing to focus on,” which see No. 3 above. 31. Oh dear, this is proving to be much more difficult than I originally thought. Should I call Chris? 32. Then again, is this really worse than [REDACTED]? Or [REDACTED]? 33. It’s almost as if the irritating qualities that it possessed in multiples back in 2005-2006, which were white-hot then thanks to the track’s Lite-FM ubiquity, seem kinda quaint these days. 34. Like, if you had to pick between “You’re Beautiful” and “I Gotta Feeling” as far as a song that drove you crazier were it to be placed on endless repeat at this exact moment in time, which would you choose? 35. The sappy, “meaningless” ballad from a one-hit blunder or the clinically / cynically designed weapon for Eternal Professional-DJ Domination? 36. I mean, neither’s on the side of the angels here, but I know which I’d choose. 37. Fight the real enemy, man. 38. Yeah. 39. Yeah! 40. That said, we really shouldn’t pay him any more mind than No. 45, given that he’s still being a jerk about the whole “Weird Al” parody. 41. I mean, who turns down “Weird Al”? 42. Kurt Cobain didn’t. 43. And neither did Gerardo! 44. Blunt did bring the song onto Sesame Street and turn it into “My Triangle,” which, c’mon:
45. Aw.James Blunt – You’re Beautiful [YouTube]James Blunt [Official site]F2K: Idolator Counts Down The 50 Worst Songs Of The ’00s, One By Ear-Splitting One