‘God Save the Queen’
A Song No One Would Expect Me to Love
I love the Sex Pistols. And I don’t know why.
I hate hip-hop. But both punk and hip-hop share some similarities: They were movements spawned by poverty and distaste for the upper class and the status quo; they were accompanied by their own fashion movements; and they featured a stripped-down sound and an independent approach to music.
So…why the Sex Pistols??
One can argue that the Sex Pistols simply capitalized on what the Ramones founded, that they were more of a boy band founded by Malcolm McLaren to sell clothes, or that the Clash were more talented. Doesn’t matter. Steve Jones’ opening power chords to “God Save the Queen,” or most Sex Pistols songs for that matter, are so jarring and powerful, they’re downright angry. That opening salvo represented a brand new sound and raised one giant middle finger to the disco-laden sound of the 1970s. Johnny Rotten couldn’t sing, but his sharp, caustic delivery – half singing, half yelling – created a sense of unpredictability and instability. And that’s exactly what punk rock aimed to do.
“God Save the Queen / the fascist regime,” screamed Rotten in his sarcastic voice, and it took the protest songs of the 1960s to an entirely new level. Released at the same time as the Queen’s silver anniversary, it was immediately banned by the BBC.
But it’s the guitars that make this song. It’s always the guitars, isn’t it? It’s why AC/DC is another favorite of mine (and my second choice for this post). Maybe if hip-hop had more guitars, I would find it more palatable.