Rewind: Natasha Bedingfield—“Unwritten”

By Yasmine El Sanyoura

Musically, my childhood can be characterized by two things: Singstar on PlayStation 2 and “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. There’s something about those first few bars that immediately takes me back to that time when my 8 or 9 year-old self was just discovering the world of pop music. It was a much simpler time when nothing was more exciting than owning a hard copy of an album I probably bought because I somehow knew and fell in love with the title song. Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten album was definitely one of those musical discoveries that I made early on, later trying to get everyone I knew to listen to it and appreciate the deep meanings and metaphors behind the jingles and beats so characteristic of 2004’s pop music.

There’s something striking about how the song starts, with the immediately recognizable tune contrasting with the simple statement of the opening words: “I am unwritten”. The honesty and vulnerability of admitting that she doesn’t know what the future holds was perhaps a little lost on my younger self, as I simply marvelled at the comparisons she was making in the song. She later uses the chorus to encourage the idea of freedom and taking control of your life so that it becomes what you make of it.

Maybe this song is so ingrained into my memories because it was overplayed in almost all the Pantene commercials at the time. I vividly remember my TV blasting “No one else can feel it for you, only you can let it in. No one else can feel the rain on your skin”, as they showed girls with gorgeous hair looking way too happy to be in the shower. I would always take the opportunity to let everyone know that I actually knew the song and proceeded to sing it and, again, tell people how smart those lyrics were.

Every now and then, I’ll feel a need to revisit that time in my childhood when I would blast this song and dance around my bedroom or listen to her slower songs as I somberly look out the car window pretending like I had reason to be moody. When I do, I just have to play this song and all those feelings rush back as soon as I hear the first couple of seconds.

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