James Blunt’s debut album Back to Bedlam made music history, reaching number one in 18 countries and catapulting the singer to global fame. Blunt moved listeners to tears with his light, faintly feminine voice and hauntingly memorable songs including "You’re Beautiful" and "Goodbye My Lover".
His follow-up album All The Lost Souls, featuring the hit singles "1973" and "Same Mistake", maintained and extended the promise of the first major release. It topped the album charts in ten countries, going Multi-Platinum in Germany. Blunt’s status as one of the most successful and popular singers of the early 21st century is reflected in a raft of awards over recent years. Some Kind of Trouble, his third studio album, was released in late 2010.
Prior to his performance at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala, FIFA.com spoke to the artist about links between the worlds of football and music.
FIFA.com: James, you’re the live act at the FIFA Ballon d'Or Gala 2011. How much does it mean to you?
James Blunt: It’s a huge honour to sing and play tonight. It’s a pretty amazing audience to perform in front of, and I’ve taken note of where everybody is sitting. I’m really excited.
You’ll be performing in front of the biggest names in football. Is this a special moment for you? Are you a bit nervous?
I’m not nervous because of what they do. They’re great at what they do, but they’re still human beings along the way. More than anything else, it’s a really special event, a global event and an exciting evening.
Have you met many footballers in person?
A few along the way. I live right beside Chelsea football ground, so I’ve met a few Chelsea players.
What’s your best memory of football?
I went to the World Cup Final in Germany. It was my first-ever football match and it was a real treat.
You’ll be singing in Brazil soon, the football-obsessed country where the next FIFA World Cup™ will be held. Are you looking forward to that?
I do concerts around the world and I meet audiences from different cities and different nationalities. Brazil has one of the most amazing audiences to play in front of as a musician, and I bet it’s the same for footballers too. It’s really an incredible place for that.
What do music and football have in common?
I’ve talked about it before. Tonight we’re talking about an individual player, but for me it’s usually about a team. I have my name stamped on my tickets, but I’m with a band, and I rely on my band. It’s the same in that I need the people around me.
If you had to compare football with a type of music, what would it be?
It changes in the same way that music does, doesn’t it? You can’t necessarily define it. There are highs and there are lows.
If you had to compare the worlds of music and football, what would be the equivalent of the FIFA World Cup Final in the world of music?
Tricky to say. They’re both very passionate. Football is a passion, and music is a passion for me too. The most incredible experience of bringing different musicians together is festivals. For example, in England there’s the Glastonbury Festival, or here in Switzerland it’s the Paleo festival, which are incredible musical events.
You’ve picked up many awards, including two Brit Awards, two World Music Awards, two MTV Video Music Awards, and an MTV European Music Award. What does winning these accolades mean to you?
It's not why you get into music in the first place. I got into music because of my love for it and the pure pleasure. But to get an award along the way is a really flattering moment. It's unexpected, but a huge honour.