Monday, March 17, 2014

You Know, for Kids!

Busted's audience mostly consisted of pre-teens, right? I rediscovered them a little while ago and I was struck by the number of...mature themes that Charlie, Matt and James were willing to tackle back in the day. Here are some choice excerpts from the Busted songbook:

"I climb a tree outside her home to make sure she is all alone. I see her in her underwear, I can't help but stop and stare."
- What I Go to School For

"You're just a whore who sleeps around the stupid, lying bitch! Who's David? Some guy who lives next door?"
- Who's David? [Uncensored Version]

"He took me to the future in the flux thing, and I saw everything: boy bands, and another one, and another one, and another one. Triple-breasted women swimming 'round town, totally naked!"
- Year 3000

"Then you whispered in my ear the words that I longed to hear: 'I want you to thrill me here.'"
- Air Hostess

And that's just the singles (all of which made the Top 5, incidentally). The album tracks go even further, covering such topics as internet porn (Britney), sex changes (She Wants to Be Me), and the inability to give one's partner an orgasm (Fake).

Perhaps I'm wrong - perhaps the Busted fandom was older than I realise, with a core of sexually frustated teenagers who weren't quite ready for their first Blink-182 album yet. But if I'm right, and if the average Busted fan was an eleven-year-old girl, then I don't necessarily think there's anything wrong with that. You might think that kids shouldn't be listening to songs about sex when they've only just entered high school, but crikey, have you ever been to a high school? Sex is a pretty hot topic in the corridors these days.

Y'know, when they're not all talking about the new episode of Dawson's Creek.

And if you don't really know anything about sex and relationships yet, I'd wager that A Present for Everyone is a better introduction to those subjects than the boy with all the weird videos on his phone. When you think about it, Busted taught their listeners a lot of lessons, and even the lessons that can be summarised as 'soon, boys will be desperate to have sex with you' are somewhat valuable. It's nice to be warned, right?

Blue-Balling: Another important topic covered. Busted saved a lot of parents a lot of embarrassment.

Just to clarify, I'm not claiming that Busted's lyrics are especially enlightened. They've certainly got some lessons of their own to learn about objectifying women (and how not to do it), and you could argue that some of these songs encourage an unhealthy attitude towards the female gender. Who's David?, for example, reeks of slut-shaming (especially in the uncensored form mentioned earlier), and one can only imagine what conclusions a young girl would draw upon hearing What I Go to School For - a song that ends, lest we forget, with the school-aged narrator driving away with the teacher he fancies while his mates look on, open-mouthed in awe.

(As a side note, have you noticed Busted's tendency to open their albums with songs - What I Go to School For from Busted and Air Hostess from A Present for Everyone - that fetishise women in particular jobs? On the first album they're hot for teacher, then they're 'messing their pants' over the cabin's a shame they never released a third album, because the song about getting arrested by a sexy policewoman could have been a corker.)

So yes, it's true that some of these songs never offered anything more valuable than a slightly disturbing glimpse of the adolescent male psyche, but when they weren't busy ogling bottoms, Busted could actually be surprisingly mature. Check out Better Than This, the eleventh track on A Present for Everyone:

"I don't want to leave you, but maybe I need to - there's got to be better than this."

See, I think that's a really grown-up sentiment. Sometimes relationships don't work out, and it's not always because she's mental (Psycho Girl) or because her father doesn't like you (Crashed the Wedding) - it could just be that you aren't right for each other, in which case it's better to face the music and move on.

So Busted can be thoughtful and edifying when they want to be. Whether or not they're better that way is up for discussion.

It may be daft, but dang, it's a hell of a tune.

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