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“The Kids Aren’t Alright: How Punk Made Anarchy in the U.K.” by Summer Buckler

June 2024

Photo of Summer Buckler holding certificate for winning writing competition

The Kids Aren’t Alright

How Punk Made Anarchy in the U.K. by Summer Buckler

If you asked a few people what punk music sounds like, you’d probably get answers like “a guitar thrown in a blender, “a bass guitar played with a jackhammeror “rubbish. Many think punk music is pointless noise made by talentless musicians, but if you take a closer look at its origins, you’ll find a much more meaningful story than people give it credit for.

Grab your leather jackets and hair dye for this whistle-stop tour through the origin of British punk!

In the mid-70s, the U.K government was in utter shambles. Working class people were being ignored, disrespected and put at a massive disadvantage by biased politicians and educators. Basically, if you weren’t born into a comfortably rich family you were expected to suffer and get on with it. Unsurprisingly, people weren’t too pleased about this, but they didn’t have the money, experience or reputation to share their experiences and be taken seriously, so their frustration kept building.

Then, in 1976, the Sex Pistols released their debut single: Anarchy in the U.K. The song was barely 3 and a half minutes long, but every second of it was bursting with the rage felt by hundreds of thousands across the country. Punk gave back power to those who had none; it finally gave them a voice and a message to shamelessly shout from the rooftops. Anarchy in the U.K. and the band’s next single God Save The Queen were both almost instantly censored by radio station after their release, but after being restricted their popularity went from strength to strength. The Sex Pistols were fiercely anti-establishment, others like Siouxsie and the Banshees twisted conventional sounds into dark, gothic anthems, and The Jam blended several genres including punk, soul and pop into honest snapshots of working-class life.

Despite punk bands being censored, insulted and even attacked, they continued to spread their message as far as they could reach, and the aftershocks of punk’s stomp through the country can be seen in every decade since it began. All the way from 80s new wave bands like Adam and the Ants, through to Britpop artists like Suede and Elastica of the 90s, all the way up to current punk inspired bands like the Arctic Monkeys, punk is still reminding people that if you have something to say…