Charlie Simpson refuses to change Busted's 'icky' lyrics to suit modern times (2024)

In 2000, Charlie Simpson, James Bourne, and Matt Willis formed Busted, all teenagers at the time and ready to cause a stir on the music scene.

It’s safe to say their lyrics raised eyebrows, whether they were singing about ogling a teacher’s derrière in What I Go to School For or having an extremely visceral reaction to the sight of an air hostess in her uniform.

‘I drop a pencil on the floor, she bends down and shows me more,’ is what Matt sings on What I Go To School For while convinced that Miss Mackenzie, aged 33, ‘craves’ him, a schoolboy.

On Air Hostess, they sing: ‘That uniform you’re wearing, so hot I can’t stop staring / You’re putting on an awesome show.’

It takes a much less PG turn in the next verse: ‘Writing you a love letter, I messed my pants / When we flew over France, will I see you soon in my hotel room?’

Fast forward two decades and the cheeky trio are back and brash, having celebrated their 20th anniversary, finally scored a number 1 record, and gearing up for a trip Down Under later this year.

Declaring that the group is in the best place it’s ever been, Charlie, 39, has expressed his pride for the hits they wrote as 16-year-olds, refusing to make changes to make them more politically correct.

We took a trip to the year 3000 to chat with the Crashed the Wedding hitmaker about Busted’s legacy and whether he finds any of their tunes icky as an adult (spoiler: he does).

‘It was a different time,’ Charlie began as he reflected on the bangers Busted is famous for.

‘We went back into the studio and recorded our hits for the Greatest Hits album, which went to number 1 in November. All the songs have had a fresh makeover, if you like, as we’re thirties and forties and we made them when we were 16 years old.

‘We definitely feel fresher and I actually prefer all of the new versions, so it’s really cool to be able to play them live.’

Asked whether there were conversations had about making songs more tame or mature during the re-recording process, Charlie stood his ground.

The likes of Taylor Swift, Lizzo, and Paramore have all altered lyrical content previously, either after being called out online for offensive wording, or to better suit a more politically correct climate.

‘Some of the lyrical content of those songs we just wouldn’t write now, so there’s definitely that kind of [icky] feeling, but they’re so well known by our audience that it doesn’t really matter,’ Charlie explained.

‘It’s not like we’re coming out with a new song that sounds like those old songs, or lyrics that sound like those. It captures a moment in time so we can just play them on and on.’

The group did, however, make one cheeky change… did you notice it?

‘We changed the teacher’s age in What I Go To School For to 53 instead of 33. We didn’t want to change them too much, that’s what people want to hear, it’s what they remember, but making the teacher older was a joke change… otherwise, the teacher would be younger than us now!’

There’s no doubt about it, Charlie is a proud Busted member – but, long-time fans will recall the devastation of when they disbanded in 2005.

At the time, Charlie had left to concentrate onpost-hardcoreband Fightstar.

Music to fans’ ears, he then rejoined in 2015 to work on new tunes, before a 2022 hiatus to focus on solo endeavours.

Despite their turbulent journey to stardom, though, including Charlie confessing toKerrang!in 2009 that Busted’s music ‘wasn’t really fulfilling’, he ‘never takes for granted’ their success.

Adding that he’s ‘humbled’ by the fact that fans continue to show up for them, Charlie said the stats ‘blow [his] mind’, like being able to sell out 26 arenas on their recent tour, despite initially booking 11.

He also doesn’t have any regrets, whether it be old creative decisions or sitting out of the McBusted supergroup, formed in 2014 with all four members of McFly.

Agreeing that everything has led him to where he is today, the musician stated emphatically: ‘I don’t regret one thing. I think everything that has happened in the past has led us to this point now, which is Busted in the best place it’s ever been and I’m really happy with how everything is going.

‘It might not have been that way, had history not gone the way it did, you know? Even when I left in 2005, that’s not something I regret, because it was right for me at the time and it was an important part of my journey. So, no regrets!’

As for their next gig, Busted plays Newmarket Nights in Suffolk on July 19th following ‘one of the best years [they’ve] ever had’, having already played at the Racecourse in 2016.

Having grown up in Suffolk himself, Charlie added: ‘Those rave nights are pretty fun, man. We’ve done it a couple of times before and they just seem to have a bit of a different vibe, outside, everyone’s having fun at the races. It’s slightly different to a normal festival but, because it is different, it makes it more special.’

On what revellers can expect from their upcoming summer shows, Charlie has promised a set packed with ‘fan favourites’.

What’s more, they’re heading to both Japan and Australia in late 2024, buzzing to play to fans across the globe.

So, the stats really do support what Charlie believes – Busted has never been stronger.

What’s your favourite Busted song?Comment Now

Ask him why people have stuck around, though, and he’s unsure what the secret is to their longevity.

‘It’s hard to say, me being so close to it, but when we came out we were definitely perceived as being different which people gravitated towards.’

Being different – see: spiky haircuts, risqué lyricism, and lack of clean-cut image – is definitely what helped Busted stand out when they first broke out.

Even today, they’re proud to not be following the crowd but are well aware that ‘right place, right time’ played a major role in getting them in front of label execs and kickstarting their career.

‘The pop industry was in a very manufactured state in 2001 and we’ve really overcome that now,’ Charlie added with a smile, pleased with how Busted has thwarted misconceptions that they’ve never had control behind the scenes.

‘Slowly but surely, we showed the world that band Busted actually is and that’s been really important to me.’

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Charlie Simpson refuses to change Busted's 'icky' lyrics to suit modern times (1)

Charlie Simpson refuses to change Busted's 'icky' lyrics to suit modern times (2024)

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