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Busted, Gateway Guitar Bands & Why We Should Support Them

Yesterday marked the day that many people have been looking forward to for years: Busted are back. After a lot of rumors, deliberation and the age old question (will Charlie Simpson EVER return?) it’s finally happened and there’s gonna be a big old reunion. However, some people didn’t receive this news particularly graciously, and instead of throwing a party and jumping on the welcoming committee, they outwardly expressed disgust. Fine, we all have our views! But why are pop-rock bands some of the most sneered at in the industry? And why does the music that a musician creates have to be limited to just one genre?

I seem to have a lot of Busted fans on my friends list, and that’s okay. In school, I was really into their genre, although I probably liked to pretend that my tastes were somewhat heavier. WHATEVER, I’ll admit it – Busted were bloody awesome. They split up back in 2005 (Jesus, was it really over ten years ago?!) and some people never quite got over it.

The Hypocrisy Of This Teenage ‘Rock’ Fan

Growing up, I became a bit of a ‘mosher’ around the age of 13. I started wearing thick black eyeliner that inexplicably had me locked in cupboards by my teacher, listening to the loudest music I could just to be ‘edgy’, and wearing the most awful clothes possible just to prove that I WAS DIFFERENT. I guess in the world of being a teenager, not fitting in sucked, but creating an impenetrable identity where you CHOSE not to fit in was genius – you were cool in your own circles, and to everyone else, you were a freak by choice. I think I read somewhere that Kurt Cobain did the same.

Anyway, in 2003 I loved Good Charlotte, Fall Out Boy, Brand New, HIM and a whole host of other relatively mainstream/poppy bands in the rock music industry. I’m sure I liked a few obscurities I picked out of the pages of Kerrang! or Rock Sound, but at that point, it was pretty basic. Over the years I moved on to My Chemical Romance, Paramore, Armor For Sleep, and other bands which would go on to shape the taste that I still have today. Thanks MySpace & PureVolume, I couldn’t have done it without ya! I guess at the time I observed Busted from afar – they weren’t for *serious* music fans, or so I thought. The irony being that Good Charlotte were producing similar stuff and to this day, they remain one of my favorite bands of all time.

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I have never claimed to have ‘outgrown’ my music taste, and for that I am proud. Way too many people act like music is age dependent, when it’s really not.

Upon Realizing I Didn’t Give A F*ck & Why We Need Bands Like Busted

By the time I got older, I’d embraced bands like Busted fully. Thank god I stopped giving a shit about what other people thought of my music taste, because life is simply way too short. I feel like people who are still putting bands like Busted and McFly into a box as untalented and whatever else don’t actually understand the impact they’ve had on the rock music scene, and why they still deserve space regardless.

Nobody is saying Busted or McFly have influenced any of the classic rock musicians, but what they did do may actually be immeasurable. How many kids who’re in bands now might have been inspired to pick up that guitar because of the guys in Busted? How many people are out there who otherwise may never have seen singing to crowds without learning choreographed dances as an option? Exactly. You don’t have to enjoy their music. But you should recognise their ability to inspire. Their ability to offer some kind of alternative. That’s what my title is about.

As my friend Jon Mahon pointed out with a status when the news broke, you might not care if random kids pick up a guitar – but you’ll sure as hell care if they’re going to be packing out YOUR gigs. We all know there’s barely any money in touring these days as a smaller band, so the more people you can get into the scene, the better.

As Jon himself said, he got into the heavier music he likes now BECAUSE of bands like Busted making it accessible, and he’s at the forefront of the scene in the work he does with DJing and other such initiatives. And no, he hasn’t turned his back on where it all began; and fully respects and gives credit to Busted themselves.

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So What About Charlie Simpson?

He’s an enigma, right? How dare he be in a alt-rock/metal/post-hardcore-Ihategenres band like Fightstar when his roots are in pop? HOW DARE HE DO BOTH. After people had finally come around the the idea of the (highly talented) Fightstar after all these years, those same people are now disappointed that he’s rejoined the platform that arguably allowed Fightstar to be so successful in the first place. He can’t win!

There have been accusations of him selling out. After all, over the years he’s stated just how much he didn’t want to join Busted ever again. Yeah, okay, it’s a bit weird that he’s changed his mind, but guess what? PEOPLE DO! I used to want a baby by 25 and now I basically think the idea is laughable. People are constantly changing their minds, and we can’t really judge.

Charlie allegedly felt guilty leaving Busted all those years ago (probably because he was the most talented…) but now he’s back and he’s quite rightfully saying “I can’t spend my life worrying about what people think“. I’m pretty sure he just wants to reach as many people with his music as possible, which isn’t a crime! Did money come into it? Probably. But please don’t lie and tell me you’ve never done something you weren’t keen on for money, especially all of you who regularly whine about hating your jobs. It’s unlikely Charlie would go back to a situation if he thought it would make him as unhappy as he once seemed with it.

I went to see Fightstar less than two weeks ago and I thought they were incredible. That isn’t going to change and CHARLIE CAN DO BOTH. He clearly has the talent for Fightstar, this is simply his way of exercising the fact that he has additional talents, too. It won’t impact a thing. To those who say Fightstar won’t be the same? Grow up. Your bruised little metal ego will just have to handle the fact that the singer doesn’t necessarily drink blood with his breakfast and sacrifice babies at lunch. If they split up, that’ll suck. But for a subsect of people who claim to be marginalized, you sure as hell don’t treat others with the same respect you expect from them in return.

It’s Not Just Busted…

Any time a ‘gateway guitar’ band gets big, they face abuse and ridicule, and dare I say? Jealousy. Five Seconds Of Summer are no stranger to such BS, and it’s kind of getting old. Seriously, when did it become acceptable to wish death upon someone just for making music which teenagers also happen to like? I see you, with your piercings and your extensions and your oh-so-superior attitude. A bit rich, right? This is a real response I saw to the news a member of 5SOS fell offstage recently, and there are literally hundreds more like it:

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Are We Secretly Afraid Of Teenage Girls?

Sorry to bring out the feminist in me, but let’s break down the *typical* profile of a Busted fan or a McFly fan or a 5SOS fan. I’d say it would be fair to say that in each of their heydays, the average fan would be 10-20 years old, give or take a few years in either direction. Fundamentally, I would go out on a limb and say they were also female. Sure, that’s largely in part to marketing and an overall ‘appeal’ since music doesn’t come with an age rating, but if the fans had all been 30 year old men, I don’t see that it would have ever been so funny to enjoy their music.

If the very fact that 30 year old men don’t often like it is inherent in the music style itself (catchy and poppy) then okay, fine. Not everything has to be socialised a certain way (although that’s certainly what stops a lot of people enjoying it…). Irrespective, there’s no need to be so cruel in your disdain. Of course, as we saw above, a lot of women make jokes, too! It’s been internalized that stuff ‘for teenagers’ is ‘bad’, and things which are heavier are ‘good’, particularly among fans of guitar music.

I found one article which powerfully summed it up best:

Mocking teenage girls and portraying their interest as worthless can further reinforce ideas that things created for women and by women are unimportant.”

We make young girls feel that their tastes are vapid, pointless and shitter than the ‘real’, more male-endorsed versions of music. Is it any wonder so few pick up those instruments?

It’s almost as though you’ve developed a fear that the very fact the music like this (which heaven forbid gets loads of radio play) is played by guys in guitars will somehow undermine ‘your’ music and credibility. Like they threaten your ‘so misunderstood’ card that it is embarrassing you’re still carrying. Please get over yourselves.

In Short

If bands like Busted never become more than a gateway in the eyes of these people’s minds… that’s okay too. They’re allowed their tastes, and their opinions are as valid as your disdain.

However, the next time you voice disgust at a band, do you care? Or are you just doing what you’ve been conditioned to do? You don’t have to like Busted. I think they’re fun, catchy and a hell of a lot better than a lot of music out there. But this isn’t some ‘fangirl’ piece telling you that you must like them, because they’re certainly not for everyone. I personally am excited to see them back and wish them luck.

But does everyone else REALLY need to know if you don’t? These days it’s not big and it’s not clever to desperately try to be insulting for the hell of it. It just makes you look a bit of a dick. If it doesn’t affect you, it isn’t about you.

  • Kaye Ford

    Amen sister! Well done you for saying it is totally OK to like Busted, but also that Charlie can do whatever the hell he wants. There are many supergroups out there made of people from various bands already, people can deal with more than one!

  • Orli Hidai Degani

    I agreed with so much of what you said! I think there is this snobbism by people who like the heavier stuff, and they tend to look down at people who do / like more mainstream or “lighter” rock. Sometimes people think if it’s more pop / light rock it can’t be influential or speak any kind of truth. I do not agree at all and I think you summed it up really nicely in your post!