“Holidays in the Sun” opens Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols, the only album the punk rock band produced during its two year stint in the late seventies. Its title is a bit misleading. It looks and sounds pleasant, but it is really about the high sense of paranoia Johnny Rotten detected when standing next to the Berlin Wall whilst on holiday with his band-mates. Tony Hawk’s Proving Ground on the Nintendo DS had this track on its soundtrack, I gained a liking to it – I am able to talk to you about it today.
The opening guitar and drums beat in time with the sound of a soldier’s march before hastily rushing into the track’s introductory chord progression, blatantly taken from The Jam’s “In the City” which was released six months prior. And all whilst this progression plays Rotten, buried under the noise, sneaks in the first line “A cheap holiday in other people’s misery” – something the band had seemed to take underneath all the controversy the members had earned themselves before the album’s release.
I always thought Rotten’s vocals were the highlights of most Pistol tracks; he doesn’t disappoint here too. He seems to match his countless exaggerations and intensity in tandem with the performance with the music. He sounds somewhat subdued during the first verse before minutes later he turns into a blubbering mess before the track’s climactic solo. He’s not a great singer. To say he sings at all is a stretch. But his delivery makes the song all that more exhilarating to listen to.