Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays

This catchy song is hard to get out of your head once you hear the chorus…but it’s a good thing. Lead singer Pete Shelley wrote this song. It was released as a single only and peaked at #29 in 1979 in the UK.

This song is based on a the 1932 Aldous Huxley novel Brave New World, in which culture and art have been excised from society, leaving the population in a mindless state of contentment and pharmaceutical bliss. One character says: “I am free. Free to have the most wonderful time. Everybody’s happy nowadays.”

In 2007, this was used in a commercial for the AARP showing spry, mature adults frolicking at a birthday party. The tagline: “An organization for people who have birthdays.”

Steve Diggle on the commercial. “I thought, it’s going to be bad for our image – it’s for old people,”  “Then… I realized it was for people 50 and over and I realized me and Pete are over 50.”

The chose the name Buzzcocks after reading the headline, “It’s the Buzz, Cock!”, in a review of the TV series Rock Follies in Time Out magazine. The “buzz” is the excitement of playing on stage; “cock” is northern English slang meaning friend.

After splitting up in 1983, Pete Shelley and guitarist Steve Diggle reunited in 1989, and they released six well received albums. Their last album was The Way released in 2014. Lead singer and songwriter Pete Shelley died in 2018.

From Songfacts

In the song, the singer has relieved his misery by entering a similar state where “Life’s an illusion, love is a dream.” It starts with him explaining:

I was so tired of being upset
Always wanting something I never could get
Life’s an illusion love is a dream
But I don’t know what it is

At the end of the song, it switches voice, with the singer imparting his newfound understanding:

Bet you are tired of being upset
Always wanting something you never can get
Life’s no illusion love’s not a dream
Now I know just what it is

Buzzcocks lead singer Pete Shelley wrote this song. “I’ve come to the idea that nothing exists,” he told Sounds regarding the meaning behind it. “There is no world. Or it doesn’t really matter if there is. The way I’m affected by things is the way by which I want them to affect me.”

The group is from England, where they had most of their success with rock songs like this one that were both melodic and subversive. “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” became one of their most popular songs, but also alienated some of their hard-core fans who felt it was a sell-out to pop.

Everybody’s Happy Nowadays

I was so tired of being upset
Always wanting something I never could get
Life’s an illusion, love is a dream
But I don’t know what it is

Everybody’s happy nowadays
Everybody’s happy nowadays

I was so tired of being upset
Always wanting something I never could get
Life’s an illusion, love is a dream
But I don’t know what it is

‘Cause everybody’s happy nowadays
Everybody’s happy nowadays

Life’s an illusion, love is the dream
But I don’t know what it is
Everyone’s saying things to me
But I know it’s okay, okay

Everybody’s happy nowadays
Everybody’s happy nowadays

Everybody’s happy nowadays
Everybody’s happy nowadays

Life’s an illusion, love is a dream
Life’s an illusion, love is the dream
Life’s the illusion, love is a dream
Life’s the illusion, love is the dream

Everybody’s happy nowadays
Everybody’s happy nowadays, days

Bet you are tired of being upset
Always wanting something you never can get
Life’s no illusion, love’s not a dream
Now, I know just what it is

Everybody’s happy nowadays
Everybody’s happy nowadays

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

24 thoughts on “Buzzcocks – Everybody’s Happy Nowadays”

  1. Its too bad The Buzzcocks didn’t get much airplay or chart action in the US- they were great! I didn’t ‘discover’ them until years later.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I never heard it in the day but think I may remember the commercial with it and have heard it occasionally on internet radio. I reckon they had about 300 diehard fans in North America…each of whom thought they were the best band going! the few that did like ’em, liked ’em a lot. Hypotheses – could be the name, might have been offputting to some conservative types in radio; might have been that they were with UA records… seems like a “big” entertainment company but never had many hit records over here (band with same sort of problem, The Stranglers, were with them around the same time and had similar lack of access to N.american markets) … or might just have been a sound that wouldn’t sell in big quantities over here when there was so much Air Supply and songs about pina coladas to hear instead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a shame but I agree with their name. It did probably hold them back from the American market. Their music though was catchy and somewhat commercial.

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  3. I had never heard of the Buzzcocks before, Max. Agree that tune is quite catchy. It seems their “formula” was to combine punk rock with pop-infused melodies, somewhat similar to the Ramones. Unlike the Ramones, obviously, they didn’t break through in the U.S. but they are still buzzing around – at least some version of the group!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’ve heard of the Buzzcocks. Some of their music was in record stores in Durham in the 90s. I’m not fond of this song. It sounds too much like Todd Rundgren is in the studio and he’s fucking around because he is bored.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I never would have thought of it that way lol…like Christian said…they were punk with pop melodies.

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      1. I never heard that lol…

        My favorite part of the write up was the quote: “I thought, it’s going to be bad for our image – it’s for old people,” “Then… I realized it was for people 50 and over and I realized me and Pete are over 50.”

        Like

  5. I has heard of them but never knew any of their music – they were always mentioned as part of the UK punk scene with Sex Pistols and Clash. I was surprised how much more pop they were when I heard them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I actually went back and read Brave New World last year (along with a bunch of other dystopian novels – hey it was a pandemic year ). While it was a bit archaic it’s themes were still timely.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Buzzcocks were great, and this single is great, I always liked their stuff, and Pete Shelley’s Homosapien is great too – there’s a mash-up with Abba’s Does Your Mother Know which is on Youtube, and pretty fine too. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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