Teen Tragedy in the U.K.

My friend Vicky recently told me her British expat husband, John, was unaware of the “teen tragedy” (AKA “splatter platters”) genre of pop songs. He knew a few of the records, like “Tell Laura I Love Her” . . .

. . . and “Leader of the Pack,” . . .

. . . which was banned by the BBC (with one notable exception), but apparently not enough of these songs crossed the pond to the U.K. to be recognized as a distinct genre, each remaining an exception, a novelty.

I was stunned when I first heard this. England has a centuries old tradition of “murder ballads,” . . .

. . . so I could not understand why that mentality did not bleed into teen tragedy songs.

Maybe it was because ancient folk ballads were thought to be dead and buried by Brit pop fans who lived in the now? Or because the U.K. did not have the same car culture as the U.S. and so many of these songs revolve around car crashes?

But once I thought about it, I could not think of any British pop or rock artists who recorded teen tragedy songs.

Imagine my surprise when I heard The Kamikaze Pilots’ “Sharon Signs to Cherry Red”:

This is the title track of a recent compilation from the retro label RPM (available from Cherry Red):


I am truly embarrassed by how few of these great tracks I was familiar with. I prided myself on keeping up with indie pop during that period, so how could I have missed so many of these? Yes, a few are a bit twee for my taste at that time, but still.


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