Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.
When Natasha Bedingfield says she is ready for her U.S. close-up, she is not kidding. After selling 1.5 million copies of her 2004 debut album, "Unwritten," internationally, according to Sony BMG, she has her eyes set firmly on America.
To prove that she means business, Bedingfield will spend a lot of time stateside. She is currently on a four-week promotional trek and will move temporarily to Los Angeles in September.
"People need to have face time with me," the British artist tells Billboard. "With all the imaging, packaging and reality TV today, people think they're always getting conned. I want them to know that with me, they're getting the real deal."
Welcome to Bedingfield's world. On Aug. 2, when Epic releases "Unwritten" in the States, American pop enthusiasts will get to know this "real deal."
For its U.S. debut, the album has been slightly altered. "Stumble" and "The One That Got Away" replace "I'm a Bomb and "Frogs and Princes," while "These Words" and the title track were remixed. Additionally, "Drop Me in the Middle" features British female rapper Estelle instead of D12's Bizarre, who was featured on the international version.
Bedingfield, whose brother Daniel is also a pop hitmaker, and Sony Music senior VP of A&R Keith Naftaly reformatted and remastered the album for American ears. In the months since the international release, Bedingfield, who co-wrote all but one song on the album, says, she "had more time to work out who I am."
At the beginning, "you step into these shoes that don't quite fit," she continues. "But then you learn how to walk in them. This year, with my fresh start in America, the shoes fit perfectly."
Internationally, the hip-hop-flavored "These Words," reached No. 1 in 12 countries. As the lead U.S. single, it is a top 20 hit on Billboard's Mainstream Top 40 chart and continues to ascend the Pop 100, Pop 100 Airplay and the Billboard Hot 100. The track has also been a top 10 pop download at Apple's iTunes Music Store.
The week of the album's release, Bedingfield is scheduled for a number of national TV appearances, as well as her first U.S. live performances. In the fall, Electronic Arts will release a new James Bond videogame featuring Bedingfield as a Bond girl. Epic hopes to have her music included in the game.
Regardless of what happens next, Bedingfield feels she has already come far: "For an English person from a little island, it's exciting to see how people are reacting to my song in the U.S. For me, it's already quite massive."
Excerpted and expanded from the Aug. 6, 2005, issue of Billboard. The full original text is available to Billboard.com subscribers.
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