The Legacy of Natasha Bedingfield’s ‘Unwritten’
January 26, 2024
Released nearly twenty years ago, it was the title track from her debut album, an international radio smash, and the theme song for seminal reality TV show The Hills. In recent years it’s become a viral TikTok moment and, as of last month, a key plot hook in new rom-com Anyone But You. The legacy of Natasha Bedingfield’s much-loved breakthrough hit is still a work in progress.
I am Unwritten
Released as a single in late 2004, Unwritten was the title track from Natasha’s debut album which had dropped a couple of months earlier. She originally wrote the song for her younger brother on his fourteenth birthday, trying to catch the excitement of possibility that she felt came with the day. Talking to PopEater, she explained, “I feel like his life was reminding me about how people make us feel like we have to have it all figured out already. We have to already choose what college we’re going to go to, what subject we’re going to study, and we don’t even know much about life yet. So that was a very personal story about my life, about his life, that kind of thing.”
The third single to be taken from her album, it reached number five on the Billboard Hot 100 becoming her first top-ten US hit and earnt her a nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance at the 49th Grammy Awards.
Let the Sun Illuminate
In 2006, Unwritten was chosen as the theme song for US reality TV show The Hills. Talking to Rolling Stone, Joe Cuello from MTV explained, “The song really reflected the feel of the show and we wanted to help push the career of artists like Natasha to make sure that everyone was really aware when they were watching the show who it was sung by. We tried to dovetail it all together so we featured her music video over the end credits. It’s really gratifying years later to see that it’s so inextricably tied to our show.”
The same year, Unwritten was the most played song on US radio.
Open Up the Dirty Window
Over time Unwritten has become an anthem for those ready to embrace life and opportunity. Played everywhere from graduation ceremonies to wedding parties, it remained a quiet favourite with its poetic lyricism and hopeful melody. So it wasn’t too surprising when in 2021 it was remixed into a viral dance challenge on TikTok.
TikTok user Rony Boyy filmed himself, with friends, breaking out into the dance in various public locations in a flash mob style over a trap remix of the iconic hit. After seeing his work Natasha praised him on her feed, before eventually joining him in a video, singing live and learning some of the moves.
“The essence of Unwritten is about how wonderful, unexpected things can happen at any moment, and these tik tok dances I keep seeing recently couldn’t be more wonderful and unexpected!” wrote Natasha.
And those unexpected things just keep on happening! December last year saw the release of Anyone But You, a new romcom starring Sydney Sweeney and Glen Powell, based on Shakespear’s Much Ado About Nothing. One of the movie’s key plot points revolves around Powell’s character’s obsession with Unwritten.
As well as featuring consistently throughout the film, the end credits feature the track as a playful ensemble sing-along. As a result of the song’s prominent use, Unwritten has since re-entered the UK Top 40 and the movie has inspired another spate of TikTok videos of fans leaving the cinema in their own sing-along moment.
Already certified twice platinum in the UK and the US, the legacy of Natasha’s hopeful hit continues to grow. Today may not be where the book begins, but the rest is still unwritten.
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