Bedingfield, Daniel

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Daniel Bedingfield

Singer, songwriter

British pop star Daniel Bedingfield shot from obscurity to sudden chart-topping fame in late 2001 with a debut single, "Gotta Get Thru This," that had been recorded on his home computer. People reviewer Carolyn E. Davis called it "a plucky, tight elastic band of a song, with a kicking hook," and it launched the London-based, New Zealand-born singer as British music's newest heartthrob. A 2004 near-fatal car crash, however, caused him to miss out on the Brit Awards in 2004, where he won the honors for Best British Male Artist.

Born in December of 1979 as the first of four children, Bedingfield moved from his native Auckland, New Zealand, to England with his parents when he was three months old. The Bedingfields lived in the south London areas of Lewisham and Brixton, where their social-worker parents were active in social justice causes and even ran a community school for a time; at times, their charitable activities took them to developing countries. Bedingfield struggled with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a child, telling Guardian journalist Simon Hattenstone that he was "a nightmare kid. I couldn't behave, couldn't concentrate unless I liked the subject. I couldn't remember the rules. I couldn't not be aggressive." His troubles in school were compounded by dyslexia, and he finally began taking the ADHD medication Ritalin in his late teens. The effect was miraculous, he recalled in the Guardian interview. "Three weeks later, I discovered I could think before I spoke; that there was a box to put the thoughts into, and then speak them," he explained to Hattenstone. "After a year I stopped taking it, and I could still use the box. I'm told that the most difficult time for anyone with hyperactivity is the transition from child to adult."

Scored Club Hit in Cyprus

Bedingfield alleviated some of his torment by writing songs, which he began doing around the age of 13. Later in his teens, he formed a musical act with sisters Natasha and Nikola called The DNA Algorithm and had some gigs at Christian music festivals in Britain. As a young man he found work as a web designer. His first serious relationship ended when his red-headed girlfriend, a dancer from Leeds, broke up with him. Retreating to his bedroom and a music-mixing program he had installed on his computer, he wrote and recorded the dance song "Gotta Get Thru This" about coming to terms with the loss, and the track wound up on a compilation CD made by EZ, a London DJ. The song became a hit during 2001 in the club scene on the Mediterranean vacation isle of Cyprus. From there it went to underground hit status on pirate radio back in Britain as a "garage song," a U.K. pop-music term for a track with speeded-up disco beats. A bidding war ensued between record labels for the song's rights as a proper release, which netted Bedingfield a cool 400,000 British pounds. The CD single release on Relentless Records sold 35,000 copies on its first day in late November of 2001, and went on to reach and hold at the number one spot on the UK singles chart for much of December, returning to the top for another week in January.

In August of 2002, Bedingfield's debut album, also titled Gotta Get Thru This, was released on Polydor, part of the Universal Music group. It offered an unusual range of musical styles in its 13 tracks, including standard pop ballads and a little R&B soul. It peaked at number two on the UK album charts, and went on to sell more than four million copies over the next few years. Bedingfield also began touring heavily in support of the release. Times of London critic Lisa Verrico was at the London stop at the Hammersmith Apollo and noted that the singer exuded "a certain cheeky charm with funny, off-the-cuff comments, and, during the ballad ‘He Don't Love You Like I Love You,’ he wandered through the crowd, singing to excitable women. And while half a dozen slowies were horribly soppy, Bedingfield does have a distinctive, versatile voice."

Many critics, however, were disappointed with Bedingfield's full-length debut after the raw talent evidenced in the hit single. The album's first track, "Gotta Get Thru This," achieved a rare chart feat for Bedingfield as a British artist when it became a number one single that also hit the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States when it was released on the Island label there. Such dual chart appearances are infrequent, and usually happen only for British superstar acts like Oasis or Robbie Williams. The subsequent singles on Bedingfield's record also fared well on the UK charts, buoyed by the early success. However, a track such as "If You're Not the One" was a tremendous departure from Bedingfield's debut, asserted Neil McCormick in a Daily Telegraph review. McCormick described the song as "all syrupy sentiment, stirring melody and gloopy strings, like something Andrew Lloyd Webber might come up with if he was writing for a boy band," though he wrote that Bedingfield had shown himself to be "a copiously talented singer-songwriter. Although he works in an ultra-commercial vein that does not always attract critical approval, I believe he is one of the most distinctive and accomplished new talents to have emerged in this country in recent years."

Nearly Killed in Rollover Wreck

"If You're Not the One" reached the number one spot on the UK singles chart in December of 2002, a year after Bedingfield's debut, as did "Never Gonna Leave Your Side." Britain's newest pop sensation spent much of 2003 touring and doing promotional appearances for his debut, which hung on in the Top Ten UK album charts well into the year. In December he took a much-needed holiday break to visit family back in New Zealand. On January 2, 2004, he and a friend were on their way to a music festival and scheduled to meet Bedingfield's parents there. Bedingfield was a novice driver, and on a road near Whangarei his four-wheel drive vehicle skidded out of control "when we hit this typical country road made of gravel," he told Daily Mail journalist Allison Lower." I later found out that eight cars had come off that corner in the six months prior to my crash." Bedingfield's car became airborne and flipped over, and "as we hit the earth, I felt the roof pressing down on my head and I heard the bones in my neck snap," Bedingfield told Lower. "At that moment, I didn't think I was going to die, I thought I was dead. So I let go of my life."

Wearing a seatbelt saved Bedingfield's life, however, and that of his pal, who walked away with only minor scratches. Bedingfield suffered several broken vertebrae, including two crucial ones in his neck, and spent weeks with his head enclosed in a paralyzing brace to allow his spinal cord to heal. Doctors told him that the majority of people who suffer the same type of injuries do not survive, and those who do frequently remain on life support. Bedingfield made a full recovery, though he missed out on the Brit Awards in February of 2004, where he was honored as Best British Male Artist of 2003. In the summer of 2004 he traveled to Los Angeles to work on his highly anticipated follow-up album, Second First Impression. Released in November of 2004 on Polydor, the record reached number eight on the UK album charts and produced a Top Five single, "Nothing Hurts Like Love," and the Top 20 "Wrap My Words Around You." A third song, "The Way," peaked at number 41.

For the Record …

Born Daniel John Bedingfield on December 3, 1979, in New Zealand; son of John (a radiographer) and Molly (a physiotherapist) Bedingfield.

Formed band with sisters Natasha and Nikola called The DNA Algorithm, c. mid-1990s; worked as a Web designer in London, England, c. 2000; recorded first single, "Gotta Get Thru This," in home studio and signed to Relentless Records with it; signed to Polydor Records, 2001.

Awards: British Record Industry Trust, Brit Award for Best British Male Artist, 2004.

Addresses: Record company—Island Records, 825 Eighth Ave., New York, NY 10019.

Bedingfield remains close to his parents, John and Molly, and all of his siblings have followed him into the music business. Sisters Natasha and Nikola live with him in his southeast London home in the East Dulwich neighborhood. Natasha debuted with the song "Single" in the spring of 2004 and later recorded three number one songs. The pair has the unusual distinction of being the only brother and sister each with their own number one singles in the United Kingdom. The youngest Bedingfield sister, Nikola, "writes like Joni Mitchell and her voice is out of this world," Bedingfield told Lower. The fourth sibling, Josh, is also musically gifted and a budding actor, Bedingfield said in the same interview. Though he has never felt comfortable with the Christian music tag, Bedingfield does lead a healthy, risk-averse lifestyle, admitting only to the occasional beer. He coped with his massive fame and financial windfall by keeping "someone with me fulltime who prevents me from getting tangled up in the more seedy side of the business," he told Lower. "We also read various religious and spiritual books together. I suppose he's like a life coach. He'll get me up in the morning to do my exercise, and he'll slap me in the face if I'm getting arrogant and tell me to watch my attitude."

Selected discography


"Gotta Get Thru This," Relentless Records, 2001.

"James Dean (I Wanna Know)," Universal International, 2002.

"If You're Not the One," Universal International, 2002.

"I Can't Read You," Universal International, 2003.

"Friday," Polydor, 2003.

"Never Gonna Leave Your Side," Universal International, 2003.

(With others as Band Aid 20) "Do They Know It's Christmas?" Universal International, 2004.

"Nothing Hurts Like Love," Universal International, 2005.

"Wrap My Words Around You," Universal International, 2005.

"The Way," Polydor, 2005.


Gotta Get Thru This, Universal International, 2002.

Second First Impression, Polydor, 2004.



Daily Mail (London, England), October 9, 2004, p. 14.

Daily Telegraph (London, England), March 6, 2003, p. 23.

Entertainment Weekly, September 27, 2002, p. 85.

Guardian (London, England), July 28, 2003, p. 4.

People, September 16, 2002, p. 35.

Time International, November 3, 2003, p. 70.

Times (London, England), November 28, 2003, p. 29.

—Carol Brennan