As a British musician, it's probably safe to say you've made it when you've matched any sales record held by industry icon Elton John. "You're Beautiful" launched British pop singer James Blunt onto the international stage in 2005 and made him the first Englishman to reach No.1 on the U.S. singles chart since Elton John's 1997 Princess Diana tribute, "Candle in the Wind."
While some artists shun the songs that launched their careers, Blunt still derives pleasure from playing "You're Beautiful."
"Thousands of people sing the words to me every night. It sounds amazing," he said.
After such gigantic success, often it's difficult for an artist to repeat or even mimic his or her popularity, especially went it's coupled with five Grammy nominations and albums sales of 11 million globally. But Blunt has continued to make his musical mark. When asked how he'd top his debut success, Blunt joked he hoped he wouldn't have to commit suicide.
"It hasn't gone that badly, has it?"
In Britain, topping oneself is slang for suicide, and the music business is littered with artists whose careers ended with the release of their second album. Yet Blunt said making his follow-up disc, "All the Lost Souls," wasn't too difficult or pressured.
"I think having massive, unexpected success was liberating. I felt secure in the record deal," Blunt said. "I also felt strongly that success should not be defined by chart positions and numbers of units sold, but instead by enjoyment gained from making the album, and satisfaction in the finished product."
Blunt added that the second album was easier than the first, "because I had confidence in the people around me and in myself, more experience, and a whole load of inspiration to write songs about the last few years."
And sure enough, within a week of Blunt's sophomore release, "All the Souls" gave the former British Army soldier a gold record. Blunt's soft-rock sounds and distinctive voice helped his first single, "1973," reach the top half of Billboard's Hot Digital Songs list.
"I actually like the album as a whole. It's like a book, with 10 chapters. Each chapter is necessary to tell the whole story," Blunt said. "I guess one of the [songs] I enjoy most might be 'One of the Brightest Stars' for it's timeless feel. '1973' is great fun to play. 'Same Mistake' is a really powerful song live."
With his increased popularity has come a larger interest in his personal life. Blunt had a high-profile relationship with tsunami survivor and supermodel Petra Nemcova. The pair dated from 2006 until breaking up in the summer of 2007. Since then, he's been linked to a host of woman including, "Harry Potter" casting director Dixie Chassay and musician Camilla Boler.
The crooner also has garnered the tabloid presses' focus for his socialization with other celebrities. He's been pictured with party girl Paris Hilton and the Olsen twins.
But the Brit said he really believes people should pay less attention to the tabloids and more attention to global issues.
"I think to watch other people's private lives is to be a peeping Tom — a pervert. I think people shouldn't buy the magazines that sell that stuff. Read about the real world instead — global warming, poverty, disease and war. These are the thing we need to address," Blunt said.
Even with its trappings, Blunt wants to continue his career in music.
"[My ultimate industry goal is] to have fun doing music — as simple as that. Life is short, so I'd like to fill it with as much as possible, and hope to share it with good friends," Blunt said.