James Blunt Biography
James Blunt (born James Hillier Blount, 22 February 1974) is a British musician whose debut album, Back To Bedlam, and single releases — especially number one hit You're Beautiful — brought him to fame in 2005. His style is a mix of jazz and Northern soul, and comparisons have been made between him and early Elton John. Along with vocals, Blunt plays a wide variety of instruments including the piano, guitar, organ, marimba, and mellotron.
He is signed to Linda Perry's American label Custard, and became the first British artist to top the American singles chart in nearly a decade when his song 'You're Beautiful' reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2006. The last British artist to do so had been Elton John in 1997.
Blunt was born in in Tidworth, Wiltshire, England in 1974 and educated at Elstree School, Woolhampton, then Harrow School (where he received his nickname 'Blunty'), Bristol University, and finally the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Blunt's father was in the British Army Air Corps, and his family has a long history of military service. The Blunt family is also known for the restoration of Cley windmill.
Blunt was then a commissioned officer in the Life Guards regiment, a unit of the Household Cavalry of the British Army. He rose to the rank of Captain and served as a NATO peacekeeper in Kosovo, where as a Lieutenant he commanded the lead of 30,000 troops advancing on Pristina. It was here that he wrote his song 'No Bravery'. He was also on duty for the funeral of the Queen Mother on 9 April 2002. In a TV4 Nyhetsmorgon interview, he mentioned that he had been shot at more times than 50 Cent.
James Blunt's debut single in the UK, was 'High' (co-written with Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue). This song peaked below the Top 100 of the UK Singles Chart. However, the song was chosen to appear in a Vodafone commercial in Italy, and as a result was a Top 10 hit. Some people have suggested that the title of his song 'High' is in reference to drugs; Blunt, however, claims this to be ridiculous. His second single, 'Wisemen', improved upon that position with a #44 peak.
Blunt's third single 'You're Beautiful' was his breakout hit. The song debuted at #12 in the UK, and demonstrated a rare trend of upward mobility on the UK charts, rising all the way to the #1 position six weeks after its debut. The song also received massive airplay in the UK which was able to propel Back To Bedlam to #1 on the albums chart, unseating the record-breaking album X&Y by Coldplay from the pole position.
After the success of 'You're Beautiful' in the UK, the song crossed over to mainland Europe, becoming one of the biggest hits of summer 2005 across the continent.
In the USA, 'You're Beautiful' made its debut in the summer of 2005 on WPLJ, a prominent radio station in New York City, despite not having been released to radio yet. Once the song was released to radio stations in the Fall 2005 the song climbed into the Top 10 at three radio formats: Adult Contemporary, Adult Top 40, and Adult Alternative, eventually climbing to number 1 on the Hot 100.
The videos for all of Blunt's singles to date feature symbolism and dark imagery. In the first video for 'High', he is buried in a desert. In the first video for 'Wisemen', he is kidnapped and taken hostage. In the video for 'You're Beautiful', he alludes to suicide by jumping into an ocean as the final lyrics are sung. The re-release video for 'High' then features Blunt running from some unknown predator in a forest. The re-release video for 'Wisemen' has Blunt burning identification papers, and then walking through a forest whilst on fire.
Blunt has performed numerous television and radio appearances throughout the UK, Europe, North America and Australasia. On 3 December 2005, he was the musical guest on Saturday Night Live. His music has been featured on television programs throughout the world. He made his acting debut on the (US) ABC Family Channel program Wildfire, first aired on January 30, 2006. He also appeared in episode 103 of the CBS comedy Love Monkey (original air date February 7, 2006) . He was interviewed and performed 'You're Beautiful' and 'Goodbye My Lover' on the Oprah Winfrey Show on March 8, 2006.
Reactions to success
Blunt's dramatic rise to popularity and success has garnered hostility. His short-notice billing at a major summer festival, ousting Declan O' Rourke, led the latter to refer to him as 'James Cucking Funt' live on-air on an Irish radio station. The name James Blunt has now become Cockney Rhyming Slang.
The Sunday Telegraph's Mandrake column has claimed that Blunt is in fact 3 years older than his publicity claims. Critics of Blunt have cited this, along with vast marketing investment and 'inoffensive' songs, in seeing him as more in the mould of a commercial act rather than a genuine singer-songwriter. Critics have also labelled Blunt as 'music for bored housewives', accusing him for having uninventive lyrics and lacklustre use of simplistic emotional messages without any real meaning behind them.
The 2006 NME Awards also 'awarded' Blunt the dubious honour of 'Worst Album'. The indie press have been particularly scathing of Blunt's rise to fame.
In December 2005, James Blunt was parodied in a sketch of the comedy Dead Ringers, with Jon Culshaw parodying his hit song 'You're Beautiful' as 'It's Bloody Cold'. Comic lines included 'I've got a girlie voice', 'The other singers pick on me', 'Morrissey keeps telling me 'James Blunt is rhyming slang.'' The sketch ended with Culshaw donning a pair of pink armbands and jumping into a swimming pool, mocking Blunt's video in which he jumps into the sea.
An Internet parody entitled 'You're Gullible' became the subject of a legal threat from one of the singer's publishers. The song was originally available for download and accompanied a game whereby the player aimed tomatoes at an image of Blunt's face. The game remains online, as do the lyrics, but the song itself has been removed.
Another parody by Kevin Sage decided to focus more on changing the subject matter of the song to that of sleeping with a transvestite. The video shows Kevin making fun of James Blunt's famous 'false start', and ends with him jumping off the snowy cliff into a city.
A parody also appeared in an episode of an American sketch comedy show MADtv in which Nicole Parker (a female) played Blunt's role.
2005 Q Awards - Best New Act
2005 Digital Music Awards - Best Pop Act
2006 NRJ Music Awards (France) - Best International Newcomer
2006 Brit Awards - Best pop act, Best Male
2006 ECHO Awards (Germany) - Best International Newcomer
From Back To Bedlam:
This biography is published under the GNU Licence
Items to buy by James Blunt