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Music / Busted

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Left to Right: Charlie Simpson, Matt Willis, and James Bourne. Ms. Mackenzie was What they went to School For, they went to the Year 3000 (before the Jonas Brothers), and then they Crashed the Wedding. Now they wanna be On What You're On.
He said, "I've been to the year 3000,
Not much has changed but they lived underwater,
And your great, great, great granddaughter,
Is pretty fine, she's pretty fine."
"Year 3000"

Busted are a British Pop Punk/Pop Rock Boy Band that formed in 2001, comprising of band members James Bourne, Charlie Simpson, and Matt Willis. They'd initially split up in 2005, due to Charlie wanting to focus on other music projects and the other two didn't want to continue the group without him. Simpson had quit the band and started the Post-Hardcore band Fightstar, as well as releasing a few solo albums, Bourne went on to form the Pop Punk band Son of Dork, which lasted three years before going on hiatus, and started a solo career under the name Future Boy (he really loves Back to the Future) and as himself, and Willis continued by himself solo.

Despite being mainly supplanted by McFly in the public consciousness, they were influential at the time in bringing back guitar-driven Pop bands and had a great many copy-cat acts at the time. They were also the number one selling band in the UK for two years, outselling Coldplay.


They were best known for their songs "What I Go To School For" and "Year 3000" (both were later covered by The Jonas Brothers for their first album, albeit with altered lyrics due to a demographic shift), for providing the theme song for the live-action Thunderbirds movie, and in America for their reality show America or Busted.

In 2013, Bourne and Willis reformed the band and teamed up with McFly to form a new supergroup called McBusted, toured from 2013 to 2015, and released one studio album named after the group. They were good friends withMcFly for years, as Tom Fetcher was briefly in Busted and wrote with them on many of their songs on their first few albums, so the team up made sense. Since this was only a temporary situation, the bands went their separate ways at the end of their 2015 tour, as well as a surprise for Busted, although they wouldn't mind reforming the group in the future or at least touring together again at some point.


In 2015 they reformed in their classic line-up, with a new album in preparation. This was accomplished after Bourne invited Simpson to come with him and Willis to Philadelphia to try to write songs in 2015. When this was successful, they subsequently started recording the songs in California and decided to reform the band, announcing a short reunion tour in late 2015, then they embarked on the Pigs Can Fly tour, referencing what Simpson had said years prior to the band reforming, released their third studio album as a band (in a different musical direction than what was probably expected), and toured around England, Scotland, and Ireland. They're currently writing and recording their fourth album in Los Angeles.

They've released 5 albums; 3 studio albums, 1 live album, and a US compilation album. They have a fourth studio album scheduled for release in 2019. They also released an album, sans Simpson, with McFly as the supergroup McBusted.

The group consists of:

  • James Bourne - vocals, guitar, keyboards (2000-5, 2015-present)
  • Charlie Simpson - vocals, guitar, keyboards, drums (2000-5, 2015-present)
  • Matt Willis - vocals, bass, (2000-5, 2015-present) drums (2000-2)


  • Busted (2002)
  • A Present for Everyone (2003)
  • Busted (2004) (US Compilation album)
  • A Ticket For Everyone: Busted Live (2004)
  • Night Driver (2016)
  • Half Way There (2019)

  • Other albums:
    • McBusted (2014) (w/ McFly, sans Simpson)


  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Charlie, Charlie, Charlie. This has even carried on into other bands and projects he's been involved with.
  • Boy Band: Often incorrectly labelled as one (even on this site), though you'd be forgiven for thinking so, as they were marketed as one back in the early-2000s when they started and their first album is rife with several songs taking cues from boy bands from the same time. Thankfully, they moved away from this after their first album, though they've always played their own instruments (including Charlie having always been credited as playing the drums on their albums, though he's also shown doing so in a few of their music videos) and written their own songs. James Bourne has even refuted that they are a boyband on Twitter, but doesn't usually argue when people call them that most likely to not start pedantic arguments.
  • Body Snatcher: The last verse of 'She Wants to Be Me' indicates that the crazy girlfriend and the singer somehow switched bodies after the girl slowly morphed into him over the course of the song and the guy is now locked in a mental ward by her while she's living it up as him.
  • Break-Up Song: 'Over Now.'
  • The Cameo: Harry Judd from McFly played the drummer in the background for the video for 'Crashed the Wedding.'
  • Careful with That Axe: Charlie does a completely random scream just before one of the choruses of 'Air Hostess.' It's still his only recorded scream on a Busted album.
    • In live performances of '3am' Charlie tends to metal scream the final "Can't take much more".
    • 'Nineties' has Charlie do some pretty powerful screams, possibly hearkening back to 90s Alt. Rock vocalists.
  • Continuity Nod: 'Radio's' music video has the car from the 'What I Go to School For' music video.
    • The 'Nineties' music video has them, in some shots, wearing their old school uniforms from the same music video stated above and even begins very similarly, with James, Matt, and Charlie sitting in a school classroom. Possibly lampshaded with the extras clearly being people college age or older as well.
  • Cover Version: They covered The Beach Boys' song 'Fun Fun Fun.'
    • They're producing a redone version of James' song, 'What Happened to Your Band' for Half Way There, which was previously performed by Bourne's band Son of Dork and first recorded by McBusted for their album.
  • Cross Dresser:
    • Matt appears as the bride in "Crashed the Wedding", seemingly channeling Sam Fox.
    • Charlie in the same video and the one for 'Nineties.'
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Busted was originally a five piece band, with Matt Willis as the band's drummer instead of the band's bassist. He didn't switch to bass until 2002, when Owen Doyle left.
    • There's an old Top Of The Pops performance of 'You Said No' from 2002 where Charlie mimed (nobody performed live on Top of the Pops as a general rule) the drum parts. Considering that Charlie is a very accomplished drummer himself, this is a bit of Fridge Brilliance on the part of the band.
  • Fading into the Next Song: 'Meet You There' slowly fades into 'Why' on the album 'A Present for Everyone.'
    • 'Air Hostess' also fades into the beginning of 'Crashed the Wedding' on the same album.
  • Hard Drinking Party Guy: Matt was nicknamed in British tabloids as "Beer Matt" for his many drunken incidents.
  • Lyric Swap: In "Crashed the Wedding", the original chorus of, "And I'm glad I crashed the wedding/It's better than regretting/I could have been a loser kid/Who ran away and hid/I said I'd do it and I did. 'Cause true love lasts forever/And now we're back together/As if he never met her/So looking back/I'm glad I crashed the wedding" to, "She's glad I crashed the wedding/It's better than regretting/The ring she got was lame/She couldn't take the pain/She didn't wanna silly second name. 'Cause true love lasts forever (True love lasts forever)/And now we're back together/You might as well forget her/And walk away/She's glad I crashed the wedding."
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Charlie, although he doesn't get to showcase it very much in Busted. In Fightstar it's not uncommon for him to be screaming his ass off one line and then performing an angelic chorus the next.
  • Mood Whiplash: "What Happened to Your Band" is very out of place on McBusted's album, being the only serious song on an album of light-hearted Pop Punk and Pop Rock music. Hell, it's sandwiched in between "Hate Your Guts" and "Get Over It". That should sum up the point right there. However, it fits better on Busted's 4th album, which is composed mostly of serious Nostalgia songs.
  • New Sound Album: Their comeback album Night Driver. The album seems to have mostly abandoned the Pop Punk elements of their sound in favour of something more influenced by funk, electronica and synthpop. The influence of Gunship, the Retraux-styled synth-wave side project of Charlie's Fightstar bandmates, is also noticeable on several songs.
    • Technically, A Present For Everyone could count as well, since their first album, while having some Pop Punk elements, was more in the vein of Boy Band Pop than Pop Punk. Their second dives fully into Pop Punk, while retaining their previous sound enough so they're still recognizable as the same band.
    • They announced that for their 4th album, they're going to go back to their signature sound (most likely updating it to be more modern and being a more logical step forward), so it seems that their 3rd album was just an experiment in that sound and nothing too permanent.
  • Performance Video: '3AM' and 'She Wants To Be Me' both had montage videos from their live DVD.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • In 'What Happened to Your Band,' James included the line, "They fuck with my mind and make me miserable."
      • In the rerecorded version for Half Way There, they changed that line to say "mess" instead, which removes some of the punch of the line that was meant for the song. Why this was changed is is unknown.
    • Earlier on their second album, 'Who's David' includes the word "bitch" (though censored out of the album version) and in the original version of the chorus, they sang the line "You're just a whore, who sleeps around the town" instead of the album's version of the line.
    • They seem to do a bit more swearing nowadays, as their third album has songs with some light swearing at points.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: 'What Happened to Your Band' from was written after years of James being asked that same question by various fans of Busted and older people he knew.
  • Reality Show: America or Busted.
    • Post-Busted, Matt appeared on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and won after eating a kangaroo's anus. Considered by Matt to be his personal Old Shame.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: A strange example in that since they reformed, they made a reworked version of 'What I Go to School For' in a more Pop Punk/Alt Rock style for some reason. It sounds more like a cover from Punk Goes Pop now.
  • Screw Yourself: Matt kisses himself in the music video for 'Crashed The Wedding,' much to James and Charlie's character's suggested chagrin. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Sequel Song:
    • 'Shipwrecked in Atlantis' is one to 'Air Hostess.'
    • 'Loser Kid' is to 'What I Go to School for'. They end and begin their first album, respectively, so this makes sense.
  • Shout-Out: James Bourne really likes this trope.
    • 'Year 3000' contained references to Back to the Future, as shown in the page quote. It also referenced Michael Jackson. The Jonas Brothers' cover got in on it too with some of the changed lines, changing Michael Jackson to Kelly Clarkson...for some reason and the "triple-breasted women" line, a likely reference to Total Recall (1990), was changed to a reference to Star Wars.
    • 'Dawson's Geek' is, you guessed it, a reference to someone who's obsessed with Dawson's Creek, even containing a slight rendition of the show's theme song and a parody of the chorus of that song at the same time.
    • 'Crashed the Wedding' was written as a shout out to The Graduate and the first line of the lyrics, "I'm so rushed off my feet, looking for Gordon Street" is one to Wayne's World 2.
    • 'Fake' has shout-outs to When Harry Met Sally..., and 'Britney' has shout-outs to both the titular Ms Spears and *NSYNC.
    • McBusted's song 'Air Guitar' has the line, "Jimmy Page and Brian May won't believe the way that I can play my air guitar."
    • Their song, 'On What You're On' references Bruce Springsteen's song, 'Born to Run.'
    • Their song 'Nineties' shouts out The Goonies, Hypercolor, Oasis, Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, Michael Jackson, Macaulay Culkin, Roller City, and Saved by the Bell.
      • The music video shouts out Westlife, Muse, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Top of the Pops, and even has the guys dressing up and referencing their 'What I Go to School For' music video from 2002, which was still pretty 90s in the musicality.
    • The album cover for Half Way There is most likely one to The Beatles' A Hard Day's Night.
  • Slash Fic: They were a boyband, of course there was slash-fic. (When questioned on it, Matt and James decided to Ship Tease by declaring mutual love on their arms.)
  • Spiritual Successor: McFly were considered to be Busted's successors (and were even nicknamed in the British Press as "Baby Busted" when they first hit the big time). Considering that Tom Fletcher was briefly in Busted, it makes sense.
    • Also, Son Of Dork, a short-lived band founded by Bourne, whose music was very similar to Busted.
    • McBusted also, since Matt and James joined McFly as a supergroup. The even recorded an album which sounds like Busted 2.5 mixed with McFly and 5 Seconds of Summer.
    • All Time Low can be seen as this crossed with (albeit delayed) Transatlantic Equivalent, though they're more influenced by blink-182 and probably never heard a Busted song outside of maybe the Jonas Brothers' covers of a few of their songs like most Americans, though Alex Gaskarth is British-American, since he was born in the UK, but moved to America when he was 7. It's safe to assume that if Busted's third album came out a few years after their second, they'd likely have evolved their sound in a similar way to All Time Low, since they produced high-energy Pop Punk music and All Time Low could cover any pre-2016 Busted song without crediting them and most people probably wouldn't bat an eye because of how similarly both bands wrote their lyrics and produced their music up until that point.
  • Supergroup: Matt and James joined McFly to become McBusted from 2013-2015, though they also performed 2 Busted songs and 1 McFly track at McFly's 10th anniversary concert and are credited both onstage and on the audio releases as McBusted before that.
  • Stalker with a Crush: 'She Wants to Be Me' was about this.
  • Strictly Formula: On their fourth album, 9 out of the 10 songs have the structure of James or Matt singing the main verses, or parts of them, while Charlie sings the choruses and some backing vocals. This is in stark contrast to where, on their first 3 albums, Charlie sang at least one or two verses per song and Matt or James sang some of the choruses.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: 'What I Go To School For' is about a male student with a crush on a teacher who finds out she feels the same way and the pair run away together. 'Loser Kid' from the same album reveals that they end up living together.
  • Title by Year: "Year 3000" where Time Machine takes the band to said year.
  • Video Full of Film Clips: 'Thunderbirds are Go.'
  • Vocal Tag Team: Possibly one of the most well-known examples amongst British pop music.
  • Wedding Smashers: Their 2003 song 'Crashed the Wedding' was about a guy who stormed into his ex-girlfriend's wedding to get back together with her.