45 years after its original release, Sex Pistols’ anti-monarchy anthem “God Save the Queen” has been propelled to the top of the UK charts following a reissue for Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee. After its re-release on Friday, June 3rd, the song went to No. 1 on music streaming service charts and is headed to the Top 5 of the Official UK Singles chart.
First released in May 1977 during the Silver Jubilee, “God Save the Queen” was Sex Pistols’ second-ever single. It was highly controversial at the time for lyrics attacking the “fascist regime” and was banned by the BBC. However, the song still reached No. 1 on NME’s chart and landed at No. 2 on the UK Official Singles chart (where it was listed as blank in deference to the establishment). In response to the latter, many fans believed there was a purposeful effort to keep it from the top spot.
Leading up to the reissue, John Lydon (fka Johnny Rotten) clarified his stance about the concept of monarchy (and anarchy) in an essay for The Times. “God bless the Queen,” he wrote. “She’s put up with a lot. I’ve got no animosity against any one of the royal family. Never did… It’s the institution of it that bothers me and the assumption that I’m to pay for that.”
Of course, interest in the Sex Pistols is up overall of late, thanks to Danny Boyle’s limited biopic series Pistol, of which Lydon predictably isn’t a fan. Read our fact check of the show here.
Should the UK Singles Chart projection hold up, Sex Pistols would re-enter the Top 5 for the first time in 43 years. Meanwhile, Harry Styles’ “As It Was” and Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill” will battle for No. 1. The latter has seen a renewed interest of its own following a prominent placement in Netflix’s Stranger Things, currently sitting at No. 8 both in the UK and US.
Revisit “God Save the Queen” below.