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Jesse McCartney Heard ‘Beautiful Soul’ on the Radio for the 1st Time After Bombing the SATs (Exclusive)

Jesse McCartney may have had massive success as a teen heartthrob, but his story about hearing himself on the radio for the first time is strangely relatable.

“I was coming out of the SAT exam [my] senior year of high school and feeling really down because I knew I had just bombed the math [section]. I was terrible at math and science, just wasn’t my forte. And I was like, ‘Oh, my parents are going to kill me,'” McCartney, 37, exclusively told Us Weekly earlier this month while promoting his new EP “All’s Well.”

He continued: “But I had just released the song and I get in my car, I was driving a Jeep. I turn on the radio and ‘Beautiful Soul’ is on Z100 on Elvis Duran and the Z Morning Zoo, my childhood radio station. And I just remember at that moment thinking, ‘I don’t care what happened [on] my SAT exam, my song’s on the radio, I made it.’”

The 2004 love song, which was the lead single of McCartney’s debut album, reached number one in Australia and No. 16 in the United States.

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“In many ways, it feels like it was yesterday that I recorded that song, but then I look at some of the photos … and I can’t believe it’s been that long,” McCartney said of “Beautiful Soul” turning 20 later this year. “People tell me about performances I have no recollection of whatsoever, but it’s a testament to my fans and the loyalty that they have to me and my music. That song has stood the test of time. It’s crossed over into a new generation of pop listeners, and it’s rare in pop music for a song to have legs for that long. So, [I’m] very, very grateful for it.”

Jesse McCartney Heard Beautiful Soul On the Radio for the 1st Time After Bombing the SATs
Jesse McCartney. Cindy Ord/Getty Images

While “Beautiful Soul” launched McCartney to stardom, his wife, Katie Peterson, didn’t know who he was before they started dating. The pair met in 2012 when one of McCartney’s friends had a birthday party at the bar where Peterson, now 36, was working. McCartney arrived late, when the bar was already closing, which didn’t make for a great first impression.

“The guy whose birthday it was also sort of promoted or owned the bar, and he asked Katie if she would just pour me a drink anyway, and she was wrapping up, and so she was kind of already annoyed with me by the fact that I was getting some sort of special treatment,” McCartney recalled to Us. “She was kind of coy and definitely funny. She made a crack, which I definitely appreciated. … I thought she was so cute. And so I was like, ‘I’m so sorry. I know you’re closing up, but here’s my number. I’d love to take you out and make it up to you [and] buy you a drink.’”

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McCartney then gave Peterson his phone number, but neglected to include his name.

“As narcissistic as it was, I didn’t write my name on the napkin. And she was like, ‘You didn’t put your name down,’ which I thought was super charming as well. She didn’t know who I was,” McCartney said, noting that his wife “did not listen to any” of his music prior to meeting him.

“She’s a southern girl, so she loves her country [music], but she’s a ‘Beautiful Soul’ fan now,” he said.

Jesse McCartney Heard Beautiful Soul On the Radio for the 1st Time After Bombing the SATs
Jesse McCartney and Katie Peterson. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

The singer and Peterson tied the knot in 2021 after nine years of dating. McCartney told Us that although the twosome are “enjoying our newlywed life and taking it [one] step at the time,” expanding their family will “be the next chapter, hopefully.”

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi

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