"Beautiful" is a song by American singer Christina Aguilera, taken from her fourth studio album, Stripped. It was released as the album's second single on November 16, 2002. A pop ballad, "Beautiful" was written and produced by Linda Perry. Lyrically, it discusses inner beauty, as well as self-esteem and insecurity issues. Aguilera commented that she put "her heart and her soul" into the track, which she felt represented the theme ofStripped.The song was later re-recorded in an electronic style for her first greatest hits album Keeps Gettin' Better: A Decade of Hits (2008).
Upon its release, "Beautiful" received acclaim from music critics, who have ranked it among Aguilera's strongest material. It won a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance and was also nominated for Song of the Year at the 2004 ceremony. "Beautiful" was also a commercial success, topping the charts in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. The song peaked at number two on theBillboard Hot 100 in the United States, where it was certified gold for 500,000 units shipped.
"Beautiful" has been widely embraced as an anthem by the LGBT community for its message of self-empowerment and inner beauty. An accompanying music video was directed by Jonas Åkerlund, and earned Aguilera a GLAAD Media Award for its positive portrayal of gay and transgender people. In 2011, UK LGBT rights organization Stonewall named "Beautiful" the most empowering song of the previous decade for gay, lesbian, and bisexual people. In 2009, Rolling Stone and VH1 listed it as one of the best songs of the 2000s. The song is widely recognized as one of Aguilera's signature songs and has been covered on numerous occasions and featured on several television shows.
The accompanying music video for "Beautiful" was directed by Jonas Åkerlund and premiered on December 9, 2002. It opens with Aguilera speaking the line "Don't look at me", followed by scenes of her singing alone in a room intercut with self-image-related sequences of other people. An anorexic girl examines herself in a mirror, eventually punching through it; a thin teenage boy stands lifting weights in a room plastered with images of bodybuilders; and an African-American girl rips out pages of women's magazines including photos of only white women and throws them into a fire. In one sequence, a girl is physically bullied by several peers, and in another, a goth man sits at the back of a bus while several people get up and move. The video also touches on LGBT issues; one scene features a gay couple, portrayed by Jordan Shannon and Justin Croft, kissing on a bench and ignoring the stares of people who pass them. Another shows a transgender person, played by Robert Sherman, putting on makeup, a wig, and women's clothing. The music video debuted at number 2 on Total Request Live, spending a total of fifty days on the chart and retiring at number 6. It topped MuchMusic's Countdown for two consecutive weeks and remained on the countdown for fifteen weeks. The video received a Special Recognition award, presented by David LaChapelle, from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation at its 14th GLAAD Media Awards. After an a cappella performance of the song, Aguilera stated in her acceptance speech that "this song is definitely a universal message that everybody can relate to – anyone that's been discriminated against or unaccepted, unappreciated or disrespected just because of who you are."
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