Few people polarise public opinion quite as starkly as James Blunt. He’s had the biggest selling UK album of the past decade but remains the punch bag of choice for some rock critics and his name is synonymous with, well, let’s just say it has an unfortunate rhyme. But 16 million sales later, does he really care what people think about him? Or is he happy to count his money and watch the new album fly off the shelves? ShortList met the former soldier to find out...
You’ve sold millions of records but haven’t always had the same critical respect. Does that bother you?
What’s more important really? If I was concerned about reviews it would be more of an ego-based thing. I get out there and play to all these people and they have fun with it.
Do bad reviews or comments about you stick in your mind?
The only tricky place I have in the world is Britain. I get it nowhere else. Is it a problem to me? No it’s not, I’m not too fussed. But I think you need to balance it all out. If you read something really positive about yourself it’s still worth taking that with a pinch of salt. I have people come up and say, “I f**king love you! I think we should be together.” That level of adoration is odd too so you try to balance it out.
On that subject. Have you ever had any particularly weird requests from female fans?
Nothing that I haven’t then given them [laughs].
You’ve had a lot of bad press. Have you ever come face to face with the people who’ve written it?
I’ve seen those things, obviously but I think people don’t say things face to face because they’re cowardly. It’s very hard to know what’s real and what’s not because sometimes it’ll be credited to "a source". You don’t really want to go over to someone and say, “You’re horrid, you said this about me.” If a comedian makes a joke about me it’s because it’s an easy reference point because I’ve put myself in the public eye. Which is a good place to be, so I’m lucky.
You once said that if someone gave you enough money you’d stop making music. Did you get any offers?
No one’s come up with enough yet [laughs]. I think the British have a great tradition of taking the p*ss out of each other and I enjoy that and I’ve taken the p*ss out of myself more than anyone else.
Do you even embrace the rhyming slang stuff?
Absolutely. You know, I’ve grown up with this name, it rhymes. Better that than rhyming with something else.
You used to be a soldier and one of your duties was being the Queen’s lifeguard. We’re picturing Her Majesty in a jewel-encrusted swimming cap...
[Laughs] No, it doesn’t mean when she goes for a swim, it basically means bodyguard. The lifeguards are the soldiers who protect her when she does ceremonial work. So when you’d see her in her carriage I’d be the guy riding beside the carriage by the back wheel. She’s a very quick-witted and very sharp character in person. She’s right on the money.
You know the Queen but does the ‘posh boy’ tag annoy you?
I think it’s a weird and a uniquely British thing. Sometimes it feels similar to when people judge those from other cultures. Don’t get me wrong, posh people haven’t gone through any kind of harsh existence but it is weird when people go, “Oh my God. You’re so posh.” Maybe I’ll try and create the Music Of Posh Origin awards, the MOPOs [laughs]. I could be up against Keane and Coldplay.
Some Kind of Trouble by James Blunt is released on 8 November
Photo credit: Rex Features