North London-based trio Busted first appeared in early 2002 with an audacious blend of BBMak and Boyzone called "What I Go to School For." The single's sugar high of saccharine pop-punk progressions, processed harmonies, and cheeky cuss words ("I fought my way to the front of class/To get the best view of her a**") was a big hit with the kids, and saddled the Busted boys with immediate sensation status. And why not? Mattie Jay, James Bourne, and Charlie Simpson were freshly scrubbed yet fashionably scuzzy, and came complete with PG-rated potty mouths perfect for an audience raised on boy pop but newly taken with blink-182 and Good Charlotte. Busted's eponymous debut spawned three more singles -- including the number one "You Said No (Crash & Burn)" -- and the trio embarked on a successful U.K. tour. By July 2003, the inevitable fawning biography had appeared, and the fellows began to gear up for their bang-up follow-up. A Present for Everyone appeared in December 2003. Its guitars were whinier and its vocals a bit snottier, reducing the holdover boy band elements in favor of Simple Plan-style mall punk. In January 2004, Busted capped their whirlwind U.K. pop takeover with Brit Award nominations for Best British Group, Best British Breakthrough Artist, and Best Pop Act. When Charlie Simpson decided to part ways with Busted to pursue other interests, the guys called it quits in January 2005. Simpson went on to play with the post-hardcore act Fightstar; Bourne formed the Green Day-esque Son of Dork; Jay concentrated on solo work. Of them all, Simpson had the most successful career. Fightstar released four studio albums over the course of the next decade, each selling a respectable amount, and his hard work in the band finally gave him the indie cred he could never have got in Busted.
Simpson having made it quite clear on numerous occasions that he would never play with Busted again, it was not until 2012 that the other two tentatively approached him to see whether he might have changed his mind. Finding himself and the others older, wiser, and more on the same page musically than they had ever been, he said he would think about it. But before he could make up his mind, Jay and Bourne were approached by members of Busted's erstwhile contemporaries McFly, who proposed the formation of a supergroup. They couldn't resist. The resulting act, McBusted, was a huge success, going on a sold-out arena tour and releasing a U.K. top ten album. Then, in 2015, Simpson agreed to rejoin Busted. Unwilling to repeat the past, they decided to make a record inspired by the neon-lit, synth-heavy, '80s U.S. pop to which they had each lately found themselves in thrall -- Bruce Hornsby, Chicago, Hall & Oates -- but with a fresh, 21st century twist. The resulting album, Night Driver, recorded in L.A. with producer John Fields, was released in November 2016, preceded by the singles "Coming Home" and "On What You're On." ~ Johnny Loftus & John D. Buchanan