We are no closer to understanding beauty, even though we have been fascinated by the topic since ancient times. For proof, look at the philosophers who have shared their thoughts on the matter, so much so that one of the main branches of philosophy is aesthetics. Wherever it comes from, the fascination with beauty is a human constant. Despite that, humans express it in seemingly infinite ways. Naturally, that includes those who have commented upon beauty through their music.
10. “You’re Beautiful” – James Blunt
This 2004 hit is a beautiful song about a not-so-beautiful person. After all, the singer-songwriter James Blunt has outright stated the viewpoint character is stalking someone else’s girlfriend while on drugs. Still, listeners often interpret it in a romantic light, which says much about their reactions to the song.
9. “Just the Way You Are” – Bruno Mars
To be honest, “Just the Way You Are” is rather corny. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that a song is bad. Indeed, “Just the Way You Are” is quite enjoyable as a nice narrative in which the viewpoint character tries to assure his significant other that she is beautiful the way she is.
8. “Beautiful” – Carole King
Carole King’s music career started in the late 1950s. Since then, she has proven herself one of the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. “Beautiful” is one of King’s most iconic songs, which is why it serves as the title song of the Broadway musical based on her experiences. It is a very positive, very optimistic kind of song.
7. “Beautiful Stranger” – Madonna
“Beautiful Stranger” was well-received even by Madonna’s standards. It reached the number 19 position on the Billboard Hot 100 even though it didn’t receive a commercial release in the United States. Subsequently, it earned the Queen of Pop her fifth Grammy. Subject-wise, “Beautiful Stranger” is might as what one would expect. The viewpoint character feels overwhelmed in the presence of the titular character even though she knows it isn’t the wisest idea. Amusingly, Madonna made the song for the soundtrack of Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me. There are many ways one can describe Mike Myers’ James Bond parody. Chances are good that “Beautiful Stranger” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind for most people, though to be fair, that is the probable joke.
6. “You & I (Nobody in the World)” – John Legend
Love is a powerful force. Famously, it can make people focus on one another to the exclusion of everyone and everything else, which is the subject of this song. Reportedly, John Legend wrote it about his wife, Chrissy Teigen.
5. “Young and Beautiful” – Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey made “Young and Beautiful” for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby. The viewpoint character is Daisy Buchanan, who wonders whether her lover Jay Gatsby’s feelings will stand the test of time. She has good reasons for her uncertainty. After all, the general opinion is that Jay doesn’t love Daisy so much as the idea of Daisy, which isn’t exactly the most promising of foundations for a lasting relationship. It never happened in the narrative. Still, it is interesting to think about what might have happened if Jay had gotten to know Daisy as a real person. Something that presumably would have pierced his illusions with unknowable consequences. Certainly, it seems reasonable to think that Daisy would have mulled over this question in the latter part of the story.
4. “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
People can find beauty in the world around them. However, they don’t necessarily have to seek out exotic sites and spectacular scenes to do so. Instead, people are perfectly capable of seeing the beauty in the everyday. Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World” remains one of the best reminders of this fact ever sung.
3. “Everything Is Beautiful” – Ray Stevens
“Everything Is Beautiful” is one of Ray Stevens’ best-known songs. It is exactly what it sounds like. As such, “Everything Is Beautiful” isn’t just talking about every person being beautiful. Instead, it is taking its statement a step further. Such sentiments exist in several schools of thought. In Stevens’ case, “Everything Is Beautiful” is influenced by his Christianity. It is interesting to note that “Everything Is Beautiful” also stands out because it is a surprisingly serious song compared to his earlier releases. Thanks to its success, Stevens acquired the influence needed to release a mix of serious and not-so-serious songs throughout the 1970s.
2. “Beautiful” – Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” is another song that affirms that everyone is beautiful in their particular way no matter what others have to say. It is a message that people express again and again. Unfortunately, it is also a message that people should express again and again because the forces that prompted it haven’t gone away. Said sentiment has produced a huge number of songs. Even now, Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful” remains either the best or one of the best.
1. “True Colors” – Cyndi Lauper
The ancient Greeks had a descriptor called kalos kagathos. Both words were adjectives. The first one meant “beautiful,” while the second one meant “virtuous.” That sounds strange until one learns that the ancient Greeks believed the two things went hand-in-hand. In other words, they didn’t believe in a separation between inner beauty and outer beauty. As far as the ancient Greeks were concerned, someone beautiful on the outside was beautiful on the inside, and vice versa. Nowadays, we do acknowledge a separation between inner beauty and outer beauty, meaning we don’t believe that one guarantees the other. Still, our ability to live by that belief remains imperfect, which makes songs such as Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” much more worth listening to.