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If there is one thing that identifies those who grew up in the mid 2000s, it’s Jesse McCartney’s 2004 breakout hit “Beautiful Soul.” It’s a nostalgic call-and-response that sends those, now in their mid-twenties, back to their tween days with their flip phones and Tiger Beat posters, reminiscing on every time McCartney’s music made then think of their school crush.
Fans won’t ever get over the feeling McCartney’s early hits gave them, and apparently, neither will the singer-songwriter.
McCartney indulged fans at his iHeartRadio Live Session in New York City earlier this week by playing some of his earliest hit makers. The 31-year-old artist sang lead single “Leavin’” from his third studio album Departure. When initially released back in 2008, “Leavin’” was considered a shift from McCartney’s young image, having a more adult topic and sound to it.
After “Leavin’”, the singer launched into his debut single “Beautiful Soul”—-because what’s a McCartney throwback without this song? The track was certified Gold in the United States and was featured in multiple TV and movie soundtracks including That’s So Raven, Sydney White, and A Cinderella Story. Check out his throwback performance below—if you can handle the nostalgia.
McCartney’s return to the spotlight comes after dropping his new single “Better With You” earlier this year. Proving that he still has some good music left in him, the new track, which he also performed during the iHeart set, channels McCartney’s soft, poppy “Beautiful Soul”-era sound while its lyrics subtly acknowledge the current political climate with lines like “I know it’s ugly turning on the news / There’s people fighting over point of view.”
Since his musical hiatus—his last album In Technicolor came out four years ago—McCartney has decided to release his next album independently, explaining to PAPER Magazine how social media has allowed him to connect with fans on a more personal level and that not having a record label push him to make decisions in which he isn’t fully invested in has been “liberating.”
He also admitted that while putting out new music and re-establishing a relationship with his old fan base initially seemed daunting, he eventually discovered that many Beautiful Soul and Right Where You Want Me enthusiasts, most of whom are now in college, are very receptive to both his new and old music.
“When you’re onstage and you play a song from as far back as 2005, the energy in that room is hard to explain, you just have to be there,” said McCartney. “And then playing the new songs has been really rewarding. I’ve never in the last 15 years that I’ve been on a stage, seen a group of people respond so quickly and start singing lyrics to a song they’ve never heard before.”
Although there has yet to be any news of a second single dropping anytime soon, we’ll revel in these iHeartRadio McCartney throwbacks until then.