I tell people I like McFly, I brace myself for one of two reactions. The first is bare-faced laughter. The second usually goes something like “oh yeah they’re not bad, I like that song they do – how does it go?” They then proceed to sing ‘Year 3000’ by Busted.
I’m not one to kick up a fuss, and as much as I’d like to explain the difference between each band’s musical oeuvre (McFly play pop-rock, Busted played pop-punk), it’s much easier to just laugh it off. After all, it’s an understandable confusion; Tom Fletcher of McFly actually auditioned to be in Busted. Although he was unsuccessful, he went on to have a hand in several of their songs, just as James Bourne of Busted was then a writer on McFly’s debut album, Room On The Third Floor. You’ll even find Harry Judd drumming in the background of Busted’s ‘Crashed the Wedding’ video.
So really it should come as no surprise that the two bands have now come together under the apt (and slightly cringe-worthy) name McBusted. The six band members (Charlie Simpson of Busted, who originally left the band because “the music wasn’t really fulfilling me”, declined to have any involvement) will tour the UK in 2014. To me, this seems to be just giving a name to the continuing collaboration between the bands – the same two members of Busted were special guests at McFly’s 10th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall earlier this year. However, the supergroup has been condemned by plenty of social media commentators as “a cheap trick to make money”.
This may well be the case (though I doubt that members of either band are severely out of pocket), but I don’t think it’s the only reason. Matt and James have expressed interest before in reforming Busted, but with only two people any attempted rival would look, well, a bit lame. So who better to turn to than a band who, without Busted, probably wouldn’t exist? It all has rather a flavour of reversed fortune. McFly’s first big tour was supporting Busted in 2004, and now they’re helping their mates (whose solo projects haven’t exactly been smash hits) get back something of the good old days.
So, will it work? Probably. As I say, they’ve all been working together long enough to get on well and collaborate effectively. The only problem I foresee is image. Over their ten-year history, McFly have developed their style both musically and sartorially, recently purchasing several sets of matching three-piece suits which they now perform in. They’ve even broken away from Island Records, the label Busted were also under, and created their own company, Super Records, in order to have greater creative autonomy. Busted, on the other hand, didn’t have much opportunity to develop, and though they’ve done other things since the split, I don’t think they’ve moved on from the early noughties in the same way that McFly has. I’m pretty sure James is even wearing the same baggy denim shorts in the McBusted promo shots as he did in the video for ‘Thunderbirds Are Go’.
I won’t be getting a ticket for the McBusted tour. That’s mainly because I was never into Busted in the same way as I was into McFly (I’m talking seen-them-live-six-times, bedroom-walls-covered-in-posters kind of obsession here). But if you’re considering going, you can be certain of one thing: they’ll put on a good show. Every McFly concert I’ve been to has had excellent audience engagement, great staging, and plenty of surprises. Combining the two bands will just increase the fun they can have with it.