Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg
Jake Bugg

The word overrated is overrated

Most say it. Some think it. And it bugs me. It Jake Bugg’s me.
Oh I’m so puny, I wonder if anyone has used that yet. Snore.

So Jake Bugg secured a number 1 album the other week. Good on him I say. The tune ‘Two Fingers’ contains lyrics that are rather realistic compared to the common dancefloor/love/clubbing clobber that dominates the charts in this present dark age. And the album itself, is pretty damn good as well. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever heard, but it’s certainly fresh. And at the mere embryonic age of 18, it triggers more positivity to this guy; if that’s what quality he can write and sing about now, the mind starts to wander on what future concoctions are in his brain.

But what disappointed me after he secured the number 1 album was some of the reaction I read thereafter on my twitter feed. Yes, there was a lot of really positive tweets about it and really, I should be praising them. But instead I got a little bit riled when I noticed the odd tweet saying things like “Jake Bugg – oh man he’s overrated.” Or “There’s so many solo artists out there, what makes this guy so special?”

It’s frustrating to see. I’m not giving you ultimatums like Jake Bugg or die. Far from it. However, what does disappoint me is the negativity that seems to swarm on even moderate success.

It’s the first new and pure piece of British guitar music to top the UK album chart in recent memory. Before he got the crown, you would have struggled to find a negative tweet. My twitter and facebook feed was dominated by nice messages, people encouraging their friends to buy it. I think a lot of people may – just may – have started believing in guitar music again.

I’d like to hear what people’s reasons are for saying Mr Bugg is overrated. In actual fact, I’d like to answer them before I even get told them.
Numero uno – Yeah, he got a number one album. It sold 35,000 or so copies in that week. But how many people are there in the UK? A quick check of Wikipedia (sorry) tells me that there’s 62 million. A few quick and rough calculations tell me that’s about 1 in 1700 people bought Mr Bugg’s album in the first week.

A certain solo acoustic guitarist who goes by the name of Ed Sheeran or Ron as I like to call him, sold 102,000 copies in first week UK sales. Am I saying Ron is overrated? No. I hate the word. I’m saying that something about his music made over a 100,000 people buy his album in one week. And the music isn’t dramatically dissimilar from Jake’s. Am I fan of Sheeran’s music? Not really, but I do respect the guy after an interview I read with him with Alex Petridis in the Guardian a while back. \

Ok I’ll try to keep the statistics on the minimal side from now.

Numero dos – He wasn’t even on this year’s BBC Sound list. So Radio 1 didn’t playlist him from January the 1st this year. A list which Michael Kiwanuka topped. I think ‘Two Fingers’ is the first of Bugg’s song to get playlisted in actual fact. A glance at Wikipedia again and ‘Two Fingers’ is the first of Bugg’s song to break the singles charts at number 33, with it now being at 28. All of his 4 other singles didn’t break the top 40. If you look at the top 40 right now (go on I dare you), you’ll see it’s a list of pop tracks, X Factor artists, people who’ve performed that track on X Factor, weird Korean YouTube sensations and…er…Mumford & Sons. It’s the most guitar-ish it’s been for a while.

But ‘Two Fingers’ is a simple song, hence why it’s made the top 30 now. The lyrics are loud and clear, some of which you can possibly relate to (or don’t, I don’t mind), but most of which you can sing along to. Check his earlier release ‘Lightning Bolt’, it’s not as simple. The melody is more folky and has more complexities to it.

And Numero tres (because I’m tired of speaking Spanish) – That opening week were he got the number 1 album. He beat X Factor’s Leona Lewis by a couple of thousand copies. He beat everyone’s favourite rogue plumbers Mumford & Sons by a bit more. These are pretty credible artists in terms of success, surely? Love Leona or hate her she did sell a fair few albums last time round with ‘Echo’. And Mumford’s album ‘Babel’ has been out for a weeks now so that doesn’t have much influence on my point so I’m going to stop taking the mick now. But thanks for fixing my boiler.

So come on you cretins who feel if you can’t get on board with the first bit of pure guitar music in the charts for some time so instead choose to moan, groan and bemoan the success of an 18 year old and spit out statements of how someone is overrated. Your statements are meaningless. Fair enough, don’t like the record if you don’t want to. That’s the beauty of music. You can choose to like it – or you can choose not to. But if you don’t. Keep it to yourself and let people make their own mind up. Or go and listen to One Direction’s album. I hear that’s very underrated.

Chris PJ Martin

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Award winning journalist and boss of Louder Than War. In a 30 year music writing career, John was the first to write about bands such as Stone Roses and Nirvana and has several best selling music books to his name. He constantly tours the world with Goldblade and the Membranes playing gigs or doing spoken word and speaking at music conferences.


  1. Yes John. I like this kid, first four songs on album are quality, then for me it goes a bit soft for my liking (but sitll good quality lyrics throughout that accuratley portrays society) However, he still shows the attitude that musicians these days lack. This is writing your own bleeding songs and not trying to sound like every other daft talentless bell end in the charts.

  2. I don’t mind the album, it’s a decent enough album but here’s what riles me… he doesn’t even write his songs himself, he co-writes with some guy who used to write with Snow Patrol & another who’s wrote songs for Will Young amongst others pop stars. He’s a solo artist who can’t even write his own songs for his first album.

  3. Hi to the above.. Jake Bugg does indeed write his own songs. The songwriting credit you mention is the album producer who made a few changes here and there and thus gets credited as being a co-writer. the songs are Jake’s though…

  4. “Jake Bugg Overrated? That’s a bit of an overrated statement… – Louder Than War” seriously got me hooked with your site! Idefinitely will wind up being back a lot more normally. With thanks -Nannette

  5. @JRS
    No, you’re wrong. It’s not just the producer. Jake writes his songs with professional co-writers, he doesn’t write them on his own.


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