James Blunt had everything for you to love him or hate him. Excessive radio play, easy love-themed songs and weird nasal voice in a side, soulful singing, relentless melodies and cleverly written lyrics in the other. In 2005/2006, this explosive mix made him both the biggest seller in the world and the most bashed singer of that time.
It has now been nearly 15 years since the LP Back To Bedlam was first released, but allergic reactions are still palpable with many as soon as Blunt‘s name is mentioned. If he became an easy target of mockery, he has still been able to pursue his career up to today. Last year, he was the opening act of Ed Sheeran‘s monster Divide Tour in North America while smashing continental Europe with Robin Schulz‘ collaboration OK.
If you live in the US, you’ll likely say Blunt is an obvious example of a one-hit wonder. At best you’ll be following his Twitter account, one of the most hilarious out of all thanks to the singer’s cleverness and humour. If you are from Germany, you will struggle selecting only 5 of his biggest songs considering how many hits he has got. How popular / forgotten is he really right now then?
As usual, I’ll be using the Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept in order to relevantly gauge his results. This concept will not only bring you sales information for all Blunt‘s albums, physical and download singles, as well as audio and video streaming. In fact, it will also determine their true popularity.
If you are not yet familiar with the CSPC method, below is a nice and short video of explanations. I fully recommend watching it before getting into the sales figures. Of course, if you are a regular visitor feel free to skip the video and get into the numbers directly.
The Commensurate Sales to Popularity Concept (CSPC)
There are two ways to understand this revolutionary concept. In the first place, there is this Scribe video posted below. If you are unaware of the CSPC method, you will get the full idea within just a pair of minutes.
If you are a mathematical person, and want to know the full method as well as formulas, you can read the full introduction article.
Now let’s get into the artist’s sales figures in detail in order to apply this concept and define the act’s true popularity!
James Blunt‘s Album Sales
Original Album Sales – Comments
Obviously the tumble from Back To Bedlam to All The Lost Souls was real. The drop is even harsher in some markets. If globally the latter sold roughly 30% of the former, it’s thanks to markets like Germany, France, Brazil, and Italy where the drop in sales was under 50%. In the US or in Japan though, sales from the first album to the second were divided by more than 6. We still need to highlight that following up a 13.32 million seller is a tough target. In fact, if the drop was harsh, it’s also because Back To Bedlam was such an insanely successful record. It outsold by far most of its challengers back then like Madonna‘s Confessions On A Dancefloor and Mariah Carey‘s The Emancipation Of Mimi which is no small feat.
Some Kind Of Trouble barely reached 6 digits sales in the US, which shows that its success elsewhere wasn’t so bad to finish at over 1.5 million units. The figure of more than 1.4 million for Moon Landing is maybe even more positive. Many years after the artist’s hey-days and once the market was seriously shrinking, it managed to sell nearly as much as its predecessor. This was made possible thanks to platinum-plus sales in markets like Australia, the UK, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Austria. This album sold less in the US than it did in Canada, a rare situation for an international record which highlights how much the singer became anonymous in the US.
The Afterlove failed to reproduce the momentum of Moon Landing, selling only 270,000 units globally. Career album sales for Blunt end up on 20.4 million, disappointing for sure considering his debut but solid nevertheless.
James Blunt‘s songs sales
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 3 ratio between one album and one physical single.
Years 2005/2006 have been transition years in terms of singles purchases. Americans were starting to download, although numbers were still low. They had got rid of CD singles for long. In Europe, the habit was always to release CDs, but they were seriously losing ground too while digital music wasn’t really taking off.
2005 is precisely the year that saw worldwide sales besides Japan of physical singles sales drop below 100 million for the first time since the 1930s. This difficult context hasn’t prevent You’re Beautiful from cracking the million mark. Released only in Europe and in Oceania, it smashed both areas, selling over 400,000 units in the UK where it lasted 5 weeks at #1.
With previous singles High and Wisemen peaking at #148 and #44, respectively, and You’re Beautiful debuting at #12 in a market where the norm was to enter high and drop fast, not much could have been hoped for in the UK for this song. It was just so insanely powerful that as airplay started to take off sales of both the single and the album went through the roof. The later went on to shift over 100,000 copies per week in the middle of the summer while it had debuted with a mere 482 sales nearly a year earlier.
The complete madness around this hit led the singer’s label to reissue both High and Wisemen. They peaked at #16 and #23 in the UK, while also selling a few in Australia and in continental Europe. Their physical singles numbers remain modest at 180,000 sales combined. The focus was indeed now set on the album that was breaking sales records, hitting one or two new platinum levels every month. Goodbye My Lover went Top 10 still in the UK, Australia and France, while rocketing once more the album. It sold 360,000 units in the process. In the latter country the anti-war song No Bravery closed the era with 40,000 sales.
Lead single of the sophomore era 1973 did quite well too although physical singles were truly dying with global sales minus Japan now sitting on 43 million only. The song sold a good 240,000 units, more than half of which in Germany.
Both Same Mistake and Carry You Home were decent performers across Europe, but downloads were now the thing. They sold 30,000 units each in CD.
Je Réalise sold 40,000 units in French-peaking countries in 2007 too. After this song, subsequent releases were almost only available in GSA countries, Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. Stay The Night, Bonfire Heart, Heart To Heart, and OK were all big hits there, although only a tiny fraction of their sales came from CDs.
As a reminder, the weighting is done with a 10 to 1,5 ratio between one album and one digital single.
The irony with the huge backlash that received Blunt afterthe success of You’re Beautiful is that people kept downloading the song. In fact, the market for downloads was still 5 times lower in 2005 than what it was going to become in 2012, but continuous sales led the smash to over 9 million units to date.
In February 2006, the song broke the 100,000 sales mark 3 weeks in a row in the US. It was all the more impressive since post-Christmas week boost apart, no song had ever sold more than 82,247 copies in a weekly frame. By the chart of July 1st, 2006, You’re Beautiful became the most downloaded song ever in the US with nearly 1.6 million sales. This number has since climbed to 3.4 million plus well over a million ringtones. Thanks to its monumental sales, the hit removed Beyoncé from the #1 spot of the Hot 100. Back then, it was the first British song to hit the top in 9 years, the last being Elton John‘s Lady Diana Tribute, Candle In The Wind, from 1997.
This chart trivia wasn’t with no consequence. Ultimately, it’s what made the singer a one-hit wonder in the US, since from then they blacklisted him. Today, people still suggest the song made the top thanks to heavy airplay, while in truth it broke sales records while on Mainstream Top 40 radios, which are expected to air what’s the most successful, You’re Beautiful only peaked at #5. The Rolling Magazine poll about the most annoying songs ever charted it at #7, with a Top 8 including 7 hits from foreigners. If you ain’t a classic rock act you would better be American if you want positive press there.
Remaining markets still supported the singer, although without the US by 2005-2008 it was difficult to move serious digital numbers. Goodbye My Lover still sold past 2 million units, so did 1973. High, Wisemen, Same Mistake and Carry You Home are all close or over half a million sales.
Stay The Night sold a bit everywhere and great numbers in Germany and Australia to move past a million, which by 2010 was already quite a lot easier. Bonfire Heart was all the more successful with sales coming close to 2 million units. It sold over 400,000 copies in both the UK and Germany while going 3xPlatinum in Australia. The era Moon Landing was more consistent than the previous one with additional songs selling 1.4 million copies.
OK was a big hit in continental Europe with extensive runs at #2 in multiple countries, but sales are now a lot weaker, which explains its half a million sales only. All told, Blunt sold over 23 million digital units.
Streaming is made up of audio and video streams. Our CSPC methodology now includes both to better reflect the real popularity of each track. The main source of data for each avenue is respectively Spotify and YouTube. As detailed in the Fixing Log article, Spotify represents 157 million of the 272 million users of streaming platforms, while YouTube is pretty much the only video platform generating some revenue for the industry. Below is the equivalence set on the aforementioned article:
Audio Stream – 1500 plays equal 1 album unit
Video Stream – 11,750 views equal 1 album unit
Equivalent Albums Sales (EAS) = 272/157 * Spotify streams / 1500 + YouTube views / 11750
Expectedly, You’re Beautiful storms at the top of Blunt‘s most streamed tracks. The song remains massively popular with 323 million streams on Spotify while coming close to 600 million on YouTube, good enough for 423,000 EAS.
The 2017 collaboration OK is a very solid second with nearly as many streams on Spotify at 281 million. Speaking about recent collaborations, Melody is at the 6th position with 91,000 EAS in total.
The 3rd spot is occupied by Goodbye My Lover. As big as You’re Beautiful in some countries like in France, the hit has generated 185,000 EAS from streams. It fought back against Bonfire Heart, once one spot ahead, which is now the 4th biggest hit of the singer with nearly 150,000 EAS.
1973 is close to 100 million streams on Spotify, which shows the artist’s career is way more consistent than one can guess. Carry You Home and Same Mistake are also great performers for the album All The Lost Souls which lands 3 songs in the Top 10 of the singer, impressively more than Back To Bedlam.
The real singles of The Afterlove all perform poorly by 2017 standards with Love Me Better at 35,000 EAS, Bartender at 21,000, and Don’t Give Me those Eyes at 15,000. The addition of OK to its tracklist is no doubt saving it from disastrous results.
Tears And Rain, never issued as a single, proves to be a real strong song with 16 million streams on Spotify and 22 million on YouTube.
Albums-wise, Back To Bedlam leads with a huge total of 744,000 EAS. All The Lost Souls, Moon Landing, and The Afterlove all record relevant totals, with only Some Kind Of Trouble running at a slower pace.
Full catalog breakdown
If you are familiar with the artist’s catalog and want to check details of each and every song, you can access to all of them right here.
James Blunt‘s compilations sales
It sounds fairly logical to add together weighted sales of one era – studio album, physical singles, downloads, streams – to get the full picture of an album’s popularity. For older releases though, they also generate sales of various live, music videos and compilation albums.
All those packaging-only records do not create value, they exploit the value originating from the parent studio album of each of its tracks instead. Inevitably, when such compilations are issued, this downgrades catalog sales of the original LP. Thus, to perfectly gauge the worth of these releases, we need to re-assign sales proportionally to its contribution of all the compilations which feature its songs. The following table explains this method.
The distribution process
How to understand this table? If you check for example the Les Sessions Lost Souls, these figures mean it sold 780,000 units worldwide. The second statistics column means all versions of all the songs included on this package add for 925,243 equivalent album sales from streams of all types.
The second part on the right of the table shows how many equivalent streams are coming from each original album, plus the share it represents on the overall package. Thus, streaming figures tell us songs from the Back To Bedlam album are responsible for 70% of the Les Sessions Lost Souls track list attractiveness. This means it generated 42,000 of its 60,000 album sales and so forth for the other records. We then apply this process to all compilations.
So far, Blunt only issued one global live / compilation album, Chasing Time in 2006. Made of Back To Bedlam songs and a few live covers, it sold very well at 780,000 units. Then, Rhapsody Originals came out in the US only, Les Sessions Lost Souls was a French release while I’ll Take Everything 4-CD box was a release (and a hit) in Australia.
Full Length related records Sales – Summary
Here is the most underestimated indicator of an album’s success – the amount of compilation sales of all kinds it generated. Due to the dependency of sales of the original studio albums on these releases, they are a key piece of the jigsaw.
Total Album (all types) Sales per Country
Please note country-specific numbers may miss sales of a few minor releases, although totals are complete.
James Blunt Career CSPC Results
So, after checking all the figures, how many overall equivalent album sales has each album by James Blunt achieved? Well, at this point we hardly need to add up all of the figures defined in this article!
Albums CSPC results
In the following table, all categories display figures that way, e.g. in equivalent album sales. For example, singles from Back To Bedlam released in digital format sold the equivalent of 1,967,000 albums – 13,110,000 downloads with a 10 to 1,5 weighting.
As a reminder:
- Studio Album: sales of the original album
- Other Releases: sales of compilations generated thanks to the album
- Physical Singles: sales of physical singles from the album (ratio 3/10)
- Download Singles: sales of digital singles from the album (ratio 1,5/10)
- Streaming: equivalent album sales of all the album tracks (ratio 1/1500 for Audio stream and 1/11750 for Video stream)
It would be lying to say that Blunt managed to keep the momentum he created with Back To Bedlam. It’s just as wrong to say he is a one-hit wonder though.
He started his career with a monster. At 17.4 million, Back To Bedlam is the 3rd most successful album issued in 2004. Of course, it started selling in 2005 only, and if we focus on albums from this year, it comes second to Nickelback‘s All The Right Reasons with both separated by less than 200,000 sales.
All The Lost Souls wasn’t a blockbuster like its predecessor, but ultimately its numbers are decent. It is on its way to hit 5 million and will undoubtedly do it soon since its streams are quite good.
Follow up album Some Kind Of Trouble is close to 2 million units. It was a disappointment, recording a large drop from an album which was itself a drop. While it will hit 2 million at some point, it’s the slowest selling album out of all so it won’t go much higher.
Moon Landing was a nice hit era, actually outperforming its immediate predecessor. It also has good streams for a 2013 album that is unheard of in the US. Who knows if it can move to 3 million in the long run.
Recording multi-million sales (or close) with 4 albums in a row, Blunt no doubt expected more from The Afterlove. At 864,000 EAS so far, it looks not so bad thanks to the inclusion of OK in its extended version. The original album would be on 413,000 EAS without this song, more than 5 times less than Moon Landing. We can’t overlook OK though since it’s the evidence that the singer can still register true hits.
The final number comes in at 27.7 million EAS for the British singer. If he isn’t the top seller of the last 20 years, at the end of the day there isn’t so many solo singers who sold more from 2004 to date, especially from the UK.
Singles CSPC results
The list is compiled in album equivalent sales generated by each song. Therefore, these figures are not merged units of singles formats. Instead, it includes weighted sales of the song’s physical single, download, ringtone and streaming as well as its share among sales of all albums on which it is featured.
1. 2004 – James Blunt – You’re Beautiful [Back to Bedlam] – 10,170,000
2. 2004 – James Blunt – Goodbye My Lover [Back to Bedlam] – 4,160,000
3. 2007 – James Blunt – 1973 [All the Lost Souls] – 2,210,000
4. 2013 – James Blunt – Bonfire Heart [Moon Landing] – 1,040,000
5. 2007 – James Blunt – Carry You Home [All the Lost Souls] – 960,000
6. 2004 – James Blunt – Wisemen [Back to Bedlam] – 860,000
7. 2010 – James Blunt – Stay the Night [Some Kind of Trouble] – 830,000
8. 2007 – James Blunt – Same Mistake [All the Lost Souls] – 820,000
If you feel inspired by this list, we just created this CSPC James Blunt playlist on Spotify!
Thanks to our new ASR (Artist Success Rating) concept, we know that his sales represent 16,58 million times the purchase of his entire discography. Coupled with his total sales, it translates into an ASR score of 121. This puts him just below Spanish singer Enrique Iglesias, but ahead of the first winner of American Idol Kelly Clarkson. The ranking of all artists studied so far is available too at this link.
Records & Achievements
- At 17,383,000 EAS, Back To Bedlam is the 3rd most successful album from 2004.
- At 3,191,393 units in 2005, Back To Bedlam was the highest selling album of the 00s in the UK.
- successful music artist of all-time, the only one to break 500 million EAS combined.
- At 2,367,758 units in 2005, Back To Bedlam was the highest selling album ever over a calendar year in the UK
- At 10,170,000 EAS, You’re Beautiful is the most successful non-Adele song since 2003 to date.
- At 1,599,146 units, You’re Beautiful was the most downloaded song ever in the US up to 01/07/2006.
- At 3, You’re Beautiful was the first song ever to record multiple weeks with over 100,000 downloads in the US.
NB: EAS means Equivalent Album Sales.
You may be interested in…
… best-selling artists, albums, and singles
To improve your navigation we created several amazing cross-artists lists posted inside the CSPC: Data Collector article. Click on it to see the full listing of all CSPC results compiled so far!
… similar artists
To put figures from this article into perspective, click on the images below to reach career breakdowns of similar artists:
As usual, feel free to comment and / or ask a question!