Busted, Not the Band I Remember, But Better

By: Chaviva Freedman  |  December 1, 2016


As a child, I vaguely remember hearing about the British pop band Busted. Consisting of a trio of rowdy teenage boys, Charlie Simpson, Matt Willis and James Bourne burst onto the scene in 2002. Their agenda: to push the envelope with their music, while still expressing all the thoughts that go through a teenager’s mind. They always went against the norm, not content to make the same kind of music everyone else was, and with every song and album released, more and more people were getting on board with their messages and ideas. With hits such as “Air Hostess,” “Year 3000” (no, Nick Jonas did not write this song) and “Crashed the Wedding,” the trio changed the way teenagers listened to music. In early 2005, an unforeseeable split occurred, and the band that was Busted became no longer.

I didn’t know much about them growing up. I knew of the back story, but as an American,  all I really was knew that the Jonas Brothers covered their early music, and I didn’t look much past that. It was during my sophomore year of college that I started to listen to the band more and understand their music. Their songs were stress relievers, and I often listened when I was going through an emotional issues. The music was a throwback to the early 2000’s— they had similar vibes to Green Day, but from a teenage perspective. It took me listening to their hit “Sleeping with the Light On” to understand that their music wasn’t just about rocking out—it was about having the guts to say what was on their minds. It was about them figuring out the right way to get the words out. I related to the lyrics, and from then on, I was on the bandwagon. Just ask my roommates from last year how many times I played Busted’s music: one roommate even commented that she knew all the lyrics to “the light song” (Sleeping with the Light On) because I always played it in our dorm room.

When the band reunited in late 2015 and announced that they planned to release new music, I was more than ready for the rock anthems and the head-banging. I anticipated that the trio would continue on the same path that they originally took during my childhood, and I was majorly excited for it. When Simpson, Willis and Bourne released their new album Night Driver, on November 25, 2016, I was in for quite a shock.

The new album is a complete 180 degrees from the two albums released before their split. While those albums had a punk, almost Green Day vibe attached to them, this one pays homage to the 1980’s. You can picture the songs as the soundtrack to a John Hughes film, or even ­Back to the Future; they would probably fit right in, as if they were recorded during that era. Despite the complete flip, I can still relate to the lyrics, as I did previously. I understood that feeling when nothing has changed yet nothing feels the same, which they describe “New York.”  I understood what it’s like to constantly search for unknown answers, something the trio detail in “Coming Home.” It was something that I honestly didn’t expect, and for a split second, I was both disappointed and excited at the same time.

The thing with ­Night Driver that took me a while to realize is that the band isn’t the same as I remember. The music I originally loved is over ten years old, a decade of experience between Simpson, Willis and Bourne that contributed to the new sound. They’re older and wiser, just like me. I’m not the same person I was ten years ago, and I shouldn’t expect any different from them. Night Driver is the band’s answer to the digital revolution of 2016 and it’s toe-tapping, head-banging, rocking-out great. It’s different than what I remember, but great nonetheless.