Released in 2005, James Blunt’s mega-hit single You’re Beautiful is not only not about what you think it’s about, it’s got one of the coolest errors in pop music history. Sorry radio listeners back in the Aughts, the mistake was edited out, but for everyone who bought the album and downloaded subsequent releases it’s right there for the hearing.
But first, about the song. When he was a new pop star Blunt claimed the song was about his ex-girlfriend whom he saw on a subway with her new boyfriend. But as Blunt became more of a pop mainstay the real story came out – or at least it morphed into a cooler, more menacing story. Maybe it was an attempted antidote to all the saccharine surrounding the song, but if you watch the official video after reading Blunt's explanation of the song, it really is a heck of a lot more menacing.
In 2017, Blunt told the Huffington Post: "You get labeled with these things like, ‘Oh James Blunt. Isn’t he a soft romantic?’ Well, **** that. No, I’m not. You’re Beautiful is not this soft romantic ******* song. It’s about a guy who’s high as a kite in the subway stalking someone else’s girlfriend when that guy is there in front of him, and he should be locked up or put in prison for being some kind of perv."
It’s a very rock & roll kind of backstory, and just cool enough that we’ve decided to go with it.. But now for the part you may not have heard…
At the beginning of the track, after the beautiful acoustic guitar hook, Blunt starts to sing 8-bars too early (always wait for the drummer!). It’s a blatant error, and one that happens all the time, but leaving it in was a good choice – the humanness is really jarring and refreshing.
Now, if you’d rather just have the song be a beautifully romantic tune, go right ahead, that’s the beauty of art, but know deep down inside that what is on the surface may not always lurk just beneath it.
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