James Bay is an English singer-songwriter who got started in the 2010s. He is best known because of Chaos and the Calm in 2014. However, he has continued to release new music, as shown by his second studio album in 2018 and his third studio album in 2022.
Here is our opinion of the ten best James Bay songs ever released:
10. “The Best”
“The Best” originated with Bonnie Tyler. Even so, people tend to know it because of Tina Turner, whose version became an international sensation. For proof, look no further than how the BBC describes Bay’s version as a cover of the Tina Turner classic, which is particularly notable because Bonnie Tyler is Welsh. Regardless, it would be an exaggeration to say he did it better than his predecessor. Still, Bay’s version manages to stand its ground surprisingly well.
“Us” is a song meant to trumpet the power of unity. However, it doesn’t do so in an abstract manner. Instead, it approaches this through the lens of personal relationships, which makes for a more meaningful song than otherwise possible. Interested individuals should know there are two versions of this song. One sees Bay singing solo. Meanwhile, the other is a duet with Alicia Keys.
8. “Pink Lemonade”
Generally speaking, it is thought that a circus worker invented pink lemonade. The issue is that there are at least two origin stories. One says a circus worker accidentally dropped some cinnamon candies in lemonade.
The other says a circus worker made lemonade using water someone else had used to rinse a pair of pink tights. Bay’s song doesn’t have much to do with either story. Some people interpret it as a desire to escape a relationship. There is some truth to that interpretation. After all, Bay has said he was inspired by the desire to escape.
7. “Wild Love”
Speaking of which, “Wild Love” was a single from the same studio album as “Us” and “Pink Lemonade.” Specifically, it was the lead single, meaning it was responsible for providing the release with a strong start.
“Wild Love” did well enough in that respect. The song made it to the number 39 position in the United Kingdom. Moreover, it went silver, meaning it sold more than 200,000 copies. Amusingly, people might be most familiar with the song through Virgin Media, which used it as hold music.
6. “Peer Pressure”
Peer pressure is a much-talked-about topic. Generally speaking, people bring it up in the context of school. Unfortunately, peer pressure remains relevant throughout our lives, which makes sense because we are social animals.
The funny thing is that “Peer Pressure” doesn’t have much to do with the common use of the term. Instead, it is more about the narrator’s willingness to listen to his significant other, thus making her an exception to his usual reluctance to bow to others’ opinions. One could argue it is a commentary on people’s fear of opening up to others.
Everyone gets hurt at some point. As such, scars are an unavoidable part of the human experience. Still, it is important to remember they aren’t wounds but the mementos of healed wounds, which is important when interpreting this song. “Scars” can sound like a breakup song. That makes sense because Bay took inspiration from being separated from someone he cared for.
The critical difference is that the narrator doesn’t wallow in his sadness from the separation. Instead, he becomes determined to never leave his loved one ever again. Thanks to that, this song has an intriguing steeliness quite different from the kind found in breakup songs.
“Running” is a wonderful song in its own right. It becomes even better when one learns it was meant to support Sport Relief. Those curious should know it was a regular Comic Relief event meant to raise money for those in need in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Sports Relief has since been converted to a year-long campaign. Moreover, Comic Relief remains involved in charitable matters in other ways.
3. “Best Fake Smile”
“Best Fake Smile” is another Chaos and the Calm single. It is centered on a waitress ground down by her job, which explains much about the song’s name. Despite this, it ends on a somewhat hopeful note by claiming that she doesn’t need to stay at her job, meaning she can try for something better. The song went gold in the United Kingdom, meaning it sold more than 400,000 copies. As such, it seems safe to say that it resonated with a lot of listeners.
2. “Hold Back the River”
Bay’s career opened with the release of two massive hits. The second was “Hold Back the River,” a Top Ten hit in several countries. Sadly, it only reached the top of the chart in Ireland, having peaked at the number-two position in the United Kingdom. Naturally, “Hold Back the River” sold very well. In particular, it went triple platinum in the United Kingdom by selling more than 1.8 million copies.
1. “Let It Go”
“Let It Go” didn’t climb as high on the charts as “Hold Back the River.” Even so, it made Bay known far and wide by reaching the number ten position in the United Kingdom. For that matter, it peaked at the number 16 position in the United States, which is the highest that one of his singles has ever reached in that country. “Let It Go” isn’t the happiest of songs. Indeed, one could say it was one of the most despondent singles released in 2014, thus enabling it to stand out in an ever-crowded sea of competitors.
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