Anarchy in the U.K.
The Sex Pistols
Writer(s): Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon, Glen Matlock (see lyrics here)
Released: November 26, 1976
First Charted: November 27, 1976
Peak: 33 UK, 1 CL, 1 CO, 5 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 27.04 video, 82.03 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
During the mid-‘70s, a stagnant economy, labor strikes, and the “perpetually drizzly weather that has always afflicted the country” TB contributed to general dissatisfaction amongst British youth and “things seemed to assume a permanent greyness.” TB The Sex Pistols “contempt for their dreary culture and moribund music scene” TB put them at the forefront of the British punk scene.
Then band had generated buzz with their live shows and “the groundswell that was clearly building..for snotty, amateurish rock bands.” TC EMI signed the band and their first single, “Anarchy in the U.K.,” as released in late 1976. It is “what the beginning of a revolution sounds like.” RS500 Its “wit and anger make it the great political protest song of our times.” MC It certainly generated controversy – British radio banned it and EMI “pulled the single and dropped the band, which just made them more notorious. ‘I don’t understand it,’ Rotten said in 1977. ‘All we’re trying to do is destroy everything.’” RS500
The Sex Pistols “were not only sincere in their desire to make rock that smashed rock, but…they were absolutely equal to the task.” MA They “essentially…reinforced what the garage bands of the ‘60s had demonstrated – you don’t need technique to make rock & roll.” TC
Actually, though, while “Anarchy” certainly displayed combative lyrics by opening with “I am an anti-Christ” and ending with “Destroy!” it was otherwise “comparatively familiar, highly competent hard-rock.” TB Steve “Jones made his guitar sound like a pub brawl, while [Johnny] Rotten snarled, spat, [and] snickered” RS500 with an “evil cackle.” RS500 This is a band, which despite its reputation for not being able to play, “understood perfectly how to make rock and roll effects in the recording studio.” MA
First posted 4/9/2020; last updated 10/2/2022.