James Arthur stopped by the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge on Dec. 21 and delivered a passionate cover of The Fray’s heartbreaking smash hit “How to Save a Life.” The British pop superstar injects a lot of feeling in the chorus as he pleads, “Where did I go wrong?/I lost a friend/Somewhere along in the bitterness/And I would have stayed up with you all night/Had I known how to save a life.”
Arthur sings lead vocals and plays guitar, surrounded by a full band. His tone is a great match for this Billboard Hot 100 Top 5 single which is also the title track to The Fray’s 2005 breakout debut album. The song became an unofficial theme song for ABC and Shondaland’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning medical drama, “Grey’s Anatomy.” The cast even sang it themselves during season seven’s “Song Beneath the Song” musical episode.
The song’s subject matter is rather dark, and Arthur’s desperation really shines through near the end of the performance. Many people have interpreted the lyrics to be about a troubled romantic relationship. However, in an interview with The Sauce, The Fray lead singer Isaac Slade said the song was inspired by a teen battling a drug addiction that he met while working as a mentor at a group home for troubled teens. The song was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal in 2007.
James Arthur also performed the classic Christmas hymn “Silent Night” and his emotional new single “Naked” during his BBC Live Lounge set. He released a retro-vibed music video for “Naked” on Dec. 1 and returned home to “The X Factor UK” stage that launched his career to perform it on Nov. 26. The track cracked the UK Official Singles Chart Top 20, peaking at No. 11. His romantic ballad “Say You Won’t Let Go” peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and topped the UK Singles Chart.
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