Pop Shop Podcast: Why James Blunt 'Had to Get Over' Chasing a Hit; Plus Nicki Minaj Makes Chart History

James Blunt
Jimmy Fontaine

James Blunt

Welcome to the new episode of the Pop Shop Podcast, Billboard's weekly audio breakdown of the Billboard charts, hottest music news and year's biggest musical events. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard co-director of charts Keith Caulfield and senior editor Katie Atkinson every Tuesday on the Pop Shop Podcast, which can be streamed on or downloaded in iTunes (click here to listen to the previous Tuesday’s edition of the show on

On the latest show, James Blunt is our very special guest! He drops in to talk about new album The Afterlove, working with Ryan Tedder and Ed Sheeran on the set, and how he went into the project with a refreshed outlook on the music business and songwriting.

“I've had four albums in the past,” Blunt says, “and it feels like there was kind of a different music career. This [new album] feels like a whole new thing. After my last tour, I went to Australia for a while and I came back and said, 'You know what? I'm back in the music business in a way that I haven't been before, in a way that I'm really enjoying it.'"

What changed for Blunt? Well, he got married and had a child -- that certainly impacted him, he says -- but there’s more to the story. “I just wanted to do something not with an audience in mind anymore,” he says. “Just something for myself. It just allowed me to write songs with a certain kind of confidence, rather than a kind of apology.”

Blunt says that since his debut album, 2005’s Back to Bedlam, and its No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hit “You’re Beautiful,” there was a certain kind of pressure he placed on himself.

“My first album hit big,” Blunt says of Back to Bedlam, which sold 2.8 million copies in the U.S., according to Nielsen Music, and reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart. “In America, my subsequent albums didn't really hit big. And so you're always thinking about, I suppose, the public reaction. … They're always in the room, slightly. So it's been nice to just get over that. Yeah… I just had to get over it.”

Following the release of The Afterlove, Blunt will be heading out on the road with his friend Sheeran. Blunt will open for Sheeran on his North American tour beginning June 29 in Kansas City, Mo., and he’ll continue with the trek through Oct. 6 in Nashville. After that, Blunt will mount his own solo tour starting Oct. 12 in Stuttgart, Germany. His headlining tour has dates lined up through Nov. 27 in Dublin, Ireland.

Also on the show, we've got news on Drake's new More Life album and how it's heading for No. 1 on the Billboard 200 next week, the blockbuster arrival of the Beauty and the Beast film and its soundtrack, how the music world reacted to the death of rock icon Chuck Berry, and how Nicki Minaj sets a new record on the Hot 100 chart.

Plus, we’ve got a chart stat of the week about a beauty queen-turned-chart-topping pop star (can you guess who it is?).

Listen above and click here to subscribe/rate the Pop Shop Podcast on iTunes.


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