I'm going to be staggering the really important (whether that's in the personal sense or the "Kayleigh" sense will depend) songs throughout the run, because that's one of the as-yet unwritten rules of oeuvreblogging, and I imagine it will make the whole project easier to handle. Those two reasons are fairly intrinsicly linked, I guess.
Anyway, "Beautiful" is important because it's pretty much my point of no return, I think. I discovered the existence of the band with Marbles, and I bought that and liked it, but it wasn't until I happened upon an exceedingly cheap copy of live acoustic album Unplugged At The Walls that I totally fell in love, and it was this song that did it. There was no slowly easing me into it either, it's just crowd noise, "WOOOOOOO!" and then straight into what may be the closest thing to the quintessential three and a half minute pop song this band has ever recorded. And, given that they're... y'know, Marillion, they've made a surprising number of attempts at that. Of course, given that they're... y'know, Marillion, you'd be lucky to find one that's actually under five minutes, but... the three-and-a-half-minute spirit's still there, OK?
Note again that I said "live acoustic album". If you're anything like me, that word would not inspire a great deal of confidence in you. I think I probably wouldn't have even bought Unplugged At The Walls if I'd actually realised it was a live acoustic album, which I would have done if I'd paid any attention whatsoever to any other part of the packaging than the price sticker, and then maybe I'd be writing an entry about "Getting Away With It (All Messed Up)" right now.
But, whatever, the acoustic version of this song, and pretty much this song only, at least as far as Unplugged At The Walls is concerned, works perfectly, because "Beautiful" is pretty bare bones on record already, so the acoustic version's only particularly noticable difference is the lack of a fade-out ending, which is always something I could do without anyway.
What's more important, of course, is that the actual song, in any form, is just wonderful; it's naive and idealistic to a pretty absurd degree, and you'd think that being so utterly convinced in the absolute truth of its simplistic message would be annoyingly preachy, but somehow it's unassuming enough to all come out incredibly charming. I think it pretty much comes down to this; it's not "Stand up and be beautiful", it's "Why don't you stand up and be beautiful?" Like, "if you can come up with a good reason not to stand up and be beautiful, that's totally cool with us, dude, you just keep doing your thing."
Plus, that keyboard riff? RAAAWWR.
The official music video. It's one of the better ones of the Hogarth era, outside of Brave. These are really not their forte.
Video: Beautiful (performed by Jessica Culligan)
Some poor girl, evidently cursed with a Marillion fan for a dad, singing the song at a school concert.