Even for an ex-army posh bloke with a voice that sometimes sounds like someone scraping a blackboard with their finger nails, James Blunt gets a lot of grief.
He hits the wrong note for so many people – including other musicians, such as Chicane’s Nick Bracegirdle, who recently tweeted: “Umm, not wanting to cause offence but isn’t James Blunt a bit of a knob ?
The BBC’s Radio 1 Chart Show host Jameela Jamil introduced his current single, Bonfire Heart, with the observation: “He’s the most hated man in pop.”
For many pop stars, there would be no coming back from that kind of comment. But the high-pitched posh ex army officer is fighting back. Blunt can’t do much about having been born ‘James Hillier Blount’, or having a falsetto voice, but he does have wit – and Twitter – on his side.
Over the past few weeks, he’s been executing expertly judged putdowns of people who tangle with him. People such as @alif_novaldi, who felt the need to tweet: “Fuck you, James Blunt.” Blunt was straight back at him with the wonderfully withering:
“I’m sorry, but you’ll have to get to the back of the queue”
Then there was a query from @laurenlyall about why he sings like “his willy is being stood on”. Blunt parried with the classic response:
“Damn things always getting caught under my feet”
When @blackeyelined sneered: “Who’s the bigger twat, Robin Thicke or James Blunt”, Blunt was straight to the point:
“Me Me! Pick Me!”
The “willy” jape was retweeted 1,600 times, and from that point, his following steadily began to increase. In the past week, he has gained nearly 20,000 followers (he’s at around 220.000), and while part of the increase is probably due to his having a new album out, there must be many who have simply decided that Blunt is actually ok.
Whether his tweets are clever image-remodelling or just off-the-cuff banter, he’s winning people over in a way that would have seemed impossible until recently. Buzzfeed has even listed 17 Reasons You Should Be Following James Blunt on Twitter (which can be condensed into one line: because he’s funny).
Blunt may owe his mix of confidence and self-deprecation to his privileged upbringing, but the point is that nobody is kicking him for it any more. When given freedom to babble on Twitter, celebrities often reveal themselves to be idiots; certainly, few use it as deftly as Blunt. He could be the first pop star who’s rehabilitated his image in 140 characters.
Whilst I am going on about him I suppose for those of you have never heard him sing anything, then take a listen below to his latest single.