James Blunt Said ‘You’re Beautiful’ Is a ‘Creepy’ Song Based on a True Story

“You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt was ubiquitous in the mid-2000s. Despite the song’s popularity, Blunt felt the song was misunderstood. During an interview, he opened up about the event that inspired him to write his most famous piece of music.

James Blunt with a guitar
James Blunt | Annie Wells/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Why James Blunt wrote ‘You’re Beautiful’

“You’re Beautiful” is about someone who gets high and goes on the subway, only to see a beautiful woman who smiles at him. The narrator becomes convinced that he was meant to be with this woman. In The Guardian, Blunt revealed the lyrics of “You’re Beautiful” were similar to the event which inspired him to write the song.

“One day I was on the underground in London and saw an ex-girlfriend with her new boyfriend,” Blunt wrote. “Our eyes met, but we just walked past each other, and I went home and wrote the words to ‘You’re Beautiful’ in two minutes. I went to see my songwriter friend Sacha Skarbek in Los Angeles, and, with Amanda Ghost as a co-writer, we finished the song.”

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How James Blunt felt about the reaction to the song

Blunt said “You’re Beautiful” wasn’t actually a romantic song. “It’s always been portrayed as romantic, but it’s actually a bit creepy,” he opined. “It’s about a guy (me) who’s high and stalking someone else’s girlfriend on the subway. But everyone has those moments where you wonder: ‘What if I’d said something?'”

Blunt was proud of “You’re Beautiful,” even if he felt its success had some drawbacks. “I had no idea the song would be such a big hit, and it scared me at first,” he admitted. “I thought I’d just be a musician putting out music. The song [released in 2004] became so ubiquitous that it started to irritate people, but I’m still proud of it and I love my job.”

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The way ‘You’re Beautiful’ performed on the charts

“You’re Beautiful” became a massive hit. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for one week. “You’re Beautiful” remains Blunt’s only top 40 single in the United States. The track’s parent album, Back to Bedlam, became a massive success as well. It reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200, staying on the chart for 78 weeks. None of Blunt’s other albums charted as highly.

“You’re Beautiful” was popular in the United Kingdom as well. According to The Official Charts Company, the track reached No. 1 in the U.K., remaining on the chart for 43 weeks. Meanwhile, Back to Bedlam peaked at No. 1 there, lasting on the chart for 130 weeks.

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“You’re Beautiful” inspired a number of parodies. “Weird Al” Yankovic parodied the song as “You’re Pitiful.” Blunt himself sang a spoof of “You’re Beautiful” called “My Triangle” on Sesame Street. Listeners may have misunderstood “You’re Beautiful,” but that didn’t stop the song from having an international impact.