Busted’s success belied an identity crisis. This manifested most obviously in Charlie Busted’s visible discomfort at playing the early funny stuff (let alone the later funny stuff), but it ran deeper than that. Were they a British boy band who happened to play diluted pop-punk rather than diluted R&B? Were they an actual pop-punk band who happened to be hot and fun and appeal to girls? Were they maybe even serious rock songwriters – well, as serious as Ash or Feeder – trapped in a Smash Hits and CD:UK world? “Who’s David?” – comfortably their worst ever single – feels like the product of these conflicting impulses.

“Who’s David?” is a song about a cheating girlfriend. There are great kiss-off songs in pop, but as cathartic payoffs go, “I’m over you / Ooo ooo ooo / I don’t like you” isn’t exactly top tier. There are also plenty of average jealous-guy records, with varying levels of rage and contempt, entitlement and pain. Lines like “I know your pretty face / Gets far with guys / But your make up ain’t enough to hide the lies” read like they could be from some Nuggets-era compilation makeweight or Mod Revival also-ran.

But “Who’s David?” can’t even muster that kind of energy, which is a problem – you need it to make the listener feel your spite and venom, not just pity it. For Busted the desire to make an angry, slut-shaming punk-pop record and the desire to make a hooky, singalong Busted record turn out to clash horribly. You can hear it in the chorus – which starts in a typical Busted jaunty, anthemic mode (“Are you sure that you’re mine…”)  and then ends up at – in the uncut version – “You’re just a whore, you sleep around the town / And I got proof cos the word is going round”. Oh, mate.

It’s a moment where the internal contradictions of Busted stop holding together – they’ve set themselves a bad goal and what’s more they’re not even up to hitting it. Quoting the lyrics actually makes the song read more enraged than it sounds – the reality is “Who’s David?” just sounds like a Busted record, only a particularly petty and unimaginative one. The band might think they’re making a shit-talking Blink-182 style song in “Who’s David?” but they end up looking like phonies, laundering casual misogyny for a kids’ TV audience.

Score: 2

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