As Busted attempt to overcome the reputation left from their patchy past with their new album Night Driver, fans are confused about Charlie Simpsons’s motives to rejoin the band. Did he come back for the money or does he have something to prove?
Reporter: Hannah Grafton | Sub-Editor: Frances Cullen
For many of us in our early twenties, Busted were an important part of our childhood. Their fusion of pop and punk was unlike anything else on the British music scene at the time and their iconic guitar jumps inspired living room dance routines nationwide. They saw huge success in a very small amount of time, and rolled out classic hits including Year 3000, Crashed The Wedding and Air Hostess before their split in 2004 after just four years together.
In 2013, McFly and Busted united to form supergroup McBusted, and they toured together performing songs by both of the bands to sold out venues across the country. But there was something missing; arguably the most popular member of Busted, Charlie Simpson. Fans who, like me, used to get heart palpitations just thinking about his bushy eyebrows and baggy jeans, were disappointed that our beloved Charlie wouldn’t be joining the remaining two members of Busted, but it was hardly a surprise. Simpson triggered the split by leaving to focus on the band Fightstar, and later claimed that his time in Busted was ‘unfulfilling’. Simpson went on to release one solo album and four with Fightstar, but nothing matched the success and fame that Busted allowed him to taste.
As a huge fan of Busted at their height of fame, I was extremely sceptical about this album and reformation. There was no major publicity or hype for the album and it seems very unnecessary and unwarranted after how Simpson left the band and his refusal to reunite until now. I listened Night Driver with Guy Buttle, a fellow ex-Busted fan who has followed Charlie Simpson since his split from the band.
‘This isn’t Busted. This is Charlie Simpson with synth in the background.’ A couple of songs in, it’s all sounding a bit wannabe The 1975. There’s no doubt that this is a lifetime away from the loose tie-wearing, guitar wielding teens we loved.
As the album goes along I’m left feeling disappointed. It’s not awful by any means, and some songs like Coming Home and On What You’re On may even prove popular with a younger audience, but it’s definitely not an album made for Busted nostalgia.
Simpson’s roaring vocals are definitely what sets this album apart, as well as harking back to his days as a teenage heartthrob. Guy tells me ‘Fightstar was a more rock version of Busted, and they were really good. Then Charlie Simpson did some stuff on his own which worked because his voice was the best bit about Busted and Fightstar. Now they’re just using his voice over dancey techno, and it doesn’t suit it.’
So why does Guy think Charlie has decided to make a U-turn and rejoin Busted? ‘Fightstar’s last album came out last year, and he released a solo album this year but he just can’t get the exposure. Busted will definitely get him more exposure, they even played on Children In Need this year. It’s a shame because I think he had a really good thing going on his own.’
After listening to Night Driver for no longer than five minutes, Guy says to me ‘I need to listen to some old Busted now, I can’t listen to this album anymore, it’s ruining the nostalgia for me.’ I had to agree, and I think I’ll always prefer listening to Busted’s classic early noughties songs, but in the noughties they should stay. I respect Busted for trying to evolve and stay relevant, but (and this is tough to say for a Busted fan) it’s the reunion that no one has been asking for. Whether Charlie Simpson has rejoined just for the money or not, it warms my heart to think that Busted are having fun and getting along again. We’ll miss the guitar jumps though.