Similar to fellow British pop act Busted, London-based McFly came together and quickly won over the youth masses with their boyish charm and lively tales of adolescence. However, while Busted shared commonalities with the punk-edged accessibility of acts like blink-182 and Simple Plan, McFly owed a bit more musically to bands like the Beach Boys. Naming themselves after Michael J. Fox’s character from the Back to the Future series, the guys — Danny Jones (guitar/vocals), Tom Fletcher (guitar/vocals), Dougie Poynter (bass/vocals), and Harry Judd (drums) — released Room on the Third Floor in the fall of 2004 on Universal. The album went straight to number one in the U.K., an achievement that landed them in The Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest band to ever do so. It produced a slew of Top Five hits as well, including “Five Colours in Her Hair,” “Obviously,” “That Girl,” and “Room on the Third Floor,” the first two of which peaked at number one on the U.K. charts.
<>br> In the three and a half years since McFly released their debut single, “Five Colours In Her Hair”, the band have enjoyed a soaraway success, achieving SEVEN Number 1 singles and TWO Number 1 albums. Frontman Tom Fletcher recently made chart history when McFly’s last single topped the chart, marking his 10th number one in the British Hit Singles Chart, having written more number one hits than U2, Queen and Robbie Williams (all before the age of 21)! This includes 3 hits that he co-wrote for Busted.
McFly collaborated with Busted for a cover of The Kinks’ song “Lola” (which was a B-side on the “5 Colours in Her Hair” single) and a version of “Build Me Up Buttercup” by The Foundations from Busted’s “Crashed the Wedding” single. Their cover of “Help!”, originally by The Beatles, was featured on the “Obviously” single while “She Loves You”, also by The Beatles, was featured on the “That Girl” single. The New Years’ carol “Deck the Halls”, and “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, originally by Queen, were also featured on the “Room on the Third Floor” single. In December 2004, McFly performed “Little Saint Nick”, originally by The Beach Boys, on the Eastenders Christmas Special.
2005 was quite a remarkable year for McFly. They scored their second number one album, Wonderland (debut album Room On The Third Floor entered the UK album chart at No1, earning the band an award from the Guinness Book of Records for being the youngest band ever to chart at No1 with their debut album (an award previously held by The Beatles). They had two more number one singles (All About You, I’ll Be OK), which brought the total number of chart-topping singles released by the band to five (while guitarist and vocalist Tom Fletcher has co-written a further three No 1′s for Busted bringing the total to a remarkable eight No 1 hits, all before the age of 21).
They headlined the Live 8 concert in Japan and played at the pre-G8 summitt in Glasgow. They embarked on another sold-out arena tour, which was later turned into a No1 platinum selling DVD. They made their first film, Just My Luck, with Lindsay Lohan, the hottest young actress of the moment. The film was one of the biggest teen chick flicks of the year in the US where it was No 3 at the box office on release. The experience provided them with material for their most recent number one: Please Please was inspired by drummer Harry Judd’s offscreen dalliance with co-star Lindsay Lohan ‘it’s not obviously about it, it’s got subtle links’ Tom begins to explain, before a slightly aggrieved-looking Harry interrupts: ‘Subtle links?’ he frowns, ‘like please, please Lindsay?’.
They travelled to Uganda as ambassadors for Comic Relief. They performed at the Royal Command Performance and met the Queen, an experience only mildly tainted by drummer Harry Judd’s unique choice of coiffure ‘I had a mohican, he groans’. They gained fans from far beyond the usual pop milleu – ‘I’ve lost count of the number of my mates, or my brother’s mates, or my dad’s mates that have seen us live and are shocked, who go ‘damn, you’re really good” says Harry. Amassing a fanclub that includes everyone from screaming teens to Brian May of Queen. ‘He came onstage with us the other day’ says guitarist and vocalist Danny Jones. ‘It was one of the greatest moments ever for me. He wrote a thing on his blog afterwards saying that we could easily outplay any respectable rock band. And we had a jam with him backstage beforehand as well. Andy from Razorlight walked in as we were jamming with Brian May and said ‘well, that’s one way to warm up for a gig”
McFly released “You’ve Got a Friend”, originally by Carole King, which they recorded as part of the official 2005 Comic Relief song, along with “All About You”, where the video sees the band visiting children in Uganda affected by AIDS. and “I Predict a Riot”, originally by the Kaiser Chiefs, which they performed at BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge session and is featured on the “Ultraviolet” single. McFly teamed up with Roger Daltrey of The Who in September, 2005 to re-record the 1965 hit, “My Generation” to raise money for the Teenage Cancer Trust and to launch HMV Digital’s new download service. They also released a cover of The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” on the single “I’ll Be OK” with a video.
Given that 2005 was the year that pop music was widely pronounced dead, McFly continued to buck the trend with a triumphant 12 months work, after which the quartet took some Christmas holidays.
They returned refreshed, with bassist Dougie Poynter bearing what Tom describes as ‘this whole vision for McFly, all these ideas for the next album. Me and Danny went on a cruise from Miami all around the Carribean, and we had a drunk chat about it one night on the balcony of the ship’ explains Dougie. ‘There was lots of surf stuff around, which was really inspiring, designs by this artist called Drew Brophy that I really liked. We already had the album title Motion In The Ocean from when we were in a burger bar in Beverly Hills and a friend of ours was telling us about a friend of his who apparently has a really small dick and had said ‘it’s not the size of your boat, it’s the motion in the ocean’. Me and Tom looked at each other, like: ‘album name!”.
Dougie had ideas for the band logo, for the album cover, an underwater photoshoot and for videos. It’s been a great process this time around as a lot of our ideas have been embraced. We’re really proud of this album.
Produced by The Collective (the team featuring Jason Perry of punk-popsters A who, you may remember, didn’t want your job in Starbucks). The result is a striking, diverse album that, according to Tom, provides the most direct, natural distillation of what McFly are about. ‘The best thing for me is when we’re some 15 year old girl’s favourite band in the world, we’re the first concert she’s ever been to. We just wanted to give her an album she could enjoy, rather than try and convince people that we’re a real band and we’re cool. Mind you’ he adds, ‘ I think we’ve achieved that on this album just by being ourselves and writing brilliant songs’.
The album stretches from the harmony-drenched pop of Sorry’s Not Good Enough, equal parts Queen and the Beach Boys, to the bizarre psychedelic showtune Transylvania, written by Poynter under the influence of acclaimed US power-pop band Jellyfish’s 1993 masterpiece Spilt Milk. ‘They really went for it, they’re stuff’s quite funny and a little bit weird’ he explains, ‘It just makes you think you can do anything in a song’. At one extreme, there’s the tearjerking Bubble Wrap, which starts out a gentle piano ballad and ends up with crashing electric guitars, an orchestra, the kitchen sink etc. – at another the pure McFly pop of new single Star Girl (release on 23rd October) , which includes a flatly hopeless Uranus pun, but is, as Harry rightly points out ‘no more stupid than ‘what’s that coming over the hill, is it a monster?”. ‘I had this dream that we wrote this song about falling in love with an alien and it was an amazing mega worldwide hit’ says Tom. ‘I told Dougie about it and he said ‘well, you should do it with this one”.
Then there’s Friday Night, which ponders the whys and wherefores of getting thumped by persons unknown while trying to enjoy a night out, something Danny claims to have personal experience of. ‘A bunch of blokes started on me in a club for no reason, so I had to go to a bouncer, which I hate doing, ‘I’m from McFly, these blokes want to kick the shit out of me, can you walk me to a taxi?’ So he did, but when I got in the taxi, I saw them and gave them the finger. Then I realised I hadn’t locked the door of the taxi’
But it is album opener We Are The Young, a teen-pop take on the powerchords and drum thunder of Who’s Next-era Who, that perhaps best encapsulates the new McFly mood. ‘There’s nothing like us around’ says Tom. ‘People need pop music. We’ve stuck around, we’ve stuck through this bad time for pop music and our fans have stuck with us. Now we’re back, doing exactly what we want to do. It really feels like this is what we should be doing’.
You could, if you were the kind of person who talks about albums having an emotional center, describe We Are The Young as Motion In The Ocean’s emotional center, bristling as it is with a combination of pop nous, bullish confidence and fuck-off attitude. Tom, however, demurs. ‘I don’t think our attitude to the album is ‘fuck off” he frowns. ‘I think our attitude to the album is that we’re going to write really great songs, they’re going to be really poppy and summery’. ‘And if you don’t like it’ says Harry, ‘then you can f***off’
McFly performed a version of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town” at The Prince’s Trust on 20 May 2006. They released a cover of “Don’t Stop Me Now”, originally by Queen, which was recorded to raise money for Sport Relief 2006 as the official song along with “Please, Please”. who also performed the opening riff to “5 Colours in Her Hair”. Matt Willis also joined McFly to play “Don’t Stop Me Now” at Wembley Arena and the Manchester Evening News Arena. Also on the tour, they performed “Fight for Your Right (To Party)”, originally by the Beastie Boys and the “Ghostbusters” theme tune, originally by Ray Parker Jr. A few weeks later, they opened Children in Need 2006 with “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles. They also covered “Happy Xmas (War is Over)” by John Lennon for BBC Radio 1′s Live Lounge. The song “Rockin’ Robin”, originally by Bobby Day, was performed at the Top Of The Pops Christmas Special and was also featured on the “Sorry’s Not Good Enough/Friday Night” single.
McFly’s first single of Motion in the oceanwas “Please, Please”, released in the UK as a double A-side with a cover of the Queen hit “Don’t Stop Me Now” on 17 July as the official song for Sport Relief 2006. It reached #1 in the UK charts on 23 July, making it the band’s fifth #1 single of their career. On 14 September 2006, it was confirmed via an email newsletter from McFly’s official website, that the third album would be called Motion in the Ocean. The album was released on 6 November 2006, and reached #6. “Star Girl” reached #1 in its first week. The third release from the album, “Sorry’s Not Good Enough/Friday Night”, was released on 18 December 2006, and reached #3 in the UK singles charts. “Friday Night” is featured in the movie Night at the Museum, which was released on 22 December 2006, in Canada and the US and 26 December 2006, in the UK. Their next single, Baby’s Coming Back/Transylvania, was released on the 7 May 2007, becoming the band’s seventh #1. The original single release date was due to be 26 February, but the band took up the offer to return at that time to the town of Kamwokya in Uganda, which they previously visited for Comic Relief in 2005. “Baby’s Coming Back/Transylvania” holds the record for the biggest fall from number one for a non-limited edition single. It fell from #1 to #20 after a week, matching a limited edition Elvis Presley single, “One Night”. McFly held their Motion in the Ocean tour from 17 September 2006 and were supported by The Click Five and Nylon. They also held their McFly Up Close and Personal tour, supported by Lil Chris, which started on 20 March 2007, and consisted of performing in twenty four locations not covered by their arena tours over thirty-four dates. Motion in the Ocean was re-released as a double disc edition with “Baby’s Coming Back” and DVD from the Wembley show on 14 May 2007 and reached #14.
On 23 February 2007, McFly performed Primal Scream’s “Rocks” with Charlotte Church on The Charlotte Church Show. They also covered “Baby’s Coming Back”, originally by Jellyfish, which they released as a double A-side to “Transylvania”. McFly recorded the song “You’re The One That I Want” from Grease for an album which was in aid of The Association of Childrens’ Hospices and was recorded in five days, Over the Rainbow. McFly were among a forty artists who recorded a track for Radio 1′s birthday celebrations, covering The Jam classic “Town Called Malice”, to feature on the compilation album Radio 1. Established 1967. The hit Rihanna song, “Umbrella”, was also covered by McFly for the single, “The Heart Never Lies”, and also had a video created for it. “Can’t Stop Diggin’” by Foolproof was covered under the name “The Way You Make Me Feel” for their compilation album, All the Greatest Hits. They also covered Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” for BBC Radio 1′s Live Lounge.
McFly’s All The Greatest Hits compilation album was released on 5 November 2007 and reached #3 in the charts. was premiered at the V Festival in August. The album also featured two new songs alongside “The Heart Never Lies”: “The Way You Make Me Feel” and “Don’t Wake Me Up”. The band went on a 26 date Greatest Hits tour for a month, starting the end of September 2007, supported by Elliot Minor and Saving Aimee, in order to promote the album. It was announced in 2008 that the band had left Island Records. McFly have recorded and performed a variety of officially released and unreleased cover versions of well-known songs. The boys said in their opinion it was too early to release a Greatest Hits album, and only did it because the contact with the label obligated them. On 22 October 2007, McFly hosted the first annual Nickelodeon UK Kids Choice Awards.
Sources: McFly Official, All Music Guide and Virgin Radio