“Say You Won’t Let Go” by James Arthur

“Say You Won’t Let Go”, which came immediately after on 9 September 2016, stands as the biggest hit in James Arthur’s discography and firmly established him as a viable music star. For instance, this song has amazingly achieved multi-platinum certification in nearly 15 countries – an industry feat virtually unheard of. It has also gone diamond or better in a handful of those nations, including the United States and Canada.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for James Arthur's Say You Won't Let Go at Lyrics.org.

In terms of its critical showing, “Say You Won’t Let Go” topped the UK Singles Chart. It also reached number one in a number of other countries, charting in nearly 30 overall. Additionally, this track appeared on a few Billboard charts stateside and in the process reached the apex of the US Adult Top 40.


Arthur traces his come-up, once again, to winning The X Factor in late 2012. Accordingly, he proceeded to sign with Syco Music, the record label run by Simon Cowell, who is the same mogul behind said reality competition. 

So it was Syco who supported Arthur with dropping his eponymous debut album in 2013, a project which proved especially successful in the singer’s homeland of the UK.

James parted ways with Syco in mid-2014 though re-signed with them in 2016. In between those two points, in 2015, he also signed with Columbia Records. Columbia has been the label behind James’s albums that have come out since, including “Back From the Edge” (2016), of which “Say You Won’t Let Go” served as the lead single. 

Meanwhile, Syco Music went defunct in 2020. So James Arthur is now fully, by the looks of things, a Columbia artist.

It has been reported that the first time James performed this song live was in Romania on 9 September 2016. However, shortly thereafter, on 9 October, he also laid it down where it all started, on The X Factor.


James Arthur co-wrote this song primarily with Steve Solomon, after the former was encouraged to write more love songs for “Back from the Edge”. In response, Arthur decided to go all-out. According to him, he decided to write a type of song that the average guy would want to play for his girlfriend. And that was how “Say You Won’t Let Go” was birthed.

Solomon, a musician from Texas who has also worked with the likes of The Backstreet Boys and Sabrina Carpenter, also produced this track, in that regard working with Bradley Spence and Alex Bietzke. And the other credited writer of “Say You Won’t Let Go” is Neil Ormandy.


The Script, a band from Ireland were apparently loosely associated with James Arthur, in a professional capacity, just prior to this song coming out. And by the time it did drop and had blown up, i.e. in 2018, said outfit decided to sue Arthur for copyright infringement.

What they accused him of is basically illegally copying the sound of a track they came out with back in 2008 called “The Man Who Can’t Be Moved”, which itself was a notable, though lesser, hit. James denied these claims but ultimately settled with The Script by reportedly granting two of its members, Mark Sheehan and Danny O’Donoghue, authorship credit for this track. 

However, to note, as of this writing, said crediting isn’t acknowledged on all publicaations. And that said, Arthur is also reportedly adamant about not allowing Sheehan and O’Donoghue access to any of the royalties generated by “Say You Won’t Let Go”.


Considering the international success of this song, It can be said that James did achieve his goal of putting together a love song that has a universal appeal. But he did take some lyrical risks, if you will, in the first verse.

It commences conventionally enough, with the vocalist recounting that when he first met the addressee “in the dark”, she ‘made him feel as though he was enough’. But then later on, amidst partying they end up overdoing it with the booze. 

So he also recalls that upon first getting to know each other, he had to ‘hold her head back when she was throwing up’, which is not the kind of expression you commonly come across in a love song.

Going into the pre-chorus, we find out that the particular act of helping her while she was overly-intoxicated as noted above unexpectedly proved to be sort of a bonding exercise between the two. Indeed, the addressee proceeds to expeditiously invite James to spend the night. But he rather opts to take the patient route. 

“I knew I loved you then, but you’d never know
‘Cause I played it cool when I was scared of letting go
I knew I needed you, but I never showed
But I wanna stay with you until we’re grey and old”

It should be stated that James’ patience was not because he was disinterested. To the contrary, James already knew he was in love and accordingly was envisioning he and the addressee growing “grey and old” together. He wasn’t interested in having a casual fling type of thing.

The nature of the second verse gives the impression that the relationship at hand is still in its early stages. In other words, the vocalist then goes about advertising to the addressee how he would be an ideal lover for her. 

His solicitation, comprehensively interpreted, basically boils down to James presenting himself as a faithful and loving husband.

Later down the line, in the bridge, it is inferred that this isn’t just a love-at-first-sight kind of scenario. The two parties involved have apparently already established a meaningful relationship. 

Or in any event, the vocalist acknowledges that his commitment to the addressee is actually founded in the latter ‘always being there when he needed her most’. Actually that sounds similar to what James puts forth at the beginning of the song, that he initially became smitten due to this person accepting him as is.


So the thesis sentiment at hand basically revolves around an expression of undying love, i.e. that which the vocalist has for the person he’s singing to. But as for the titular sentiment, he is entreating her to love him comparably, i.e. desiring that the addressee likewise “just say (she) won’t let go” of their love.  Or more simply put, he wants to be with her for life and is hoping that she feels the same.


Below are the countries where this song shot to number 1:

  • Australia
  • Ireland
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Scotland
  • Sweden
  • United Kingdom


It was a major success in the States. Here, it charted on 5 prominent Billboard charts, including the Adult Top 40 where it reached number 1. On the Hot 100, which is the most prestigious of these Billboard charts, it made it to number 11. Furthermore, this single has sold nothing less than 10 million units in America alone.

Say You Won't Let Go

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