‘Kill Your Friends’ Uber-Bastard Stelfox Gives His Verdict On Ed Sheeran, Coldplay And More

Kill Your Friends, John Niven’s deliciously dark music biz satire set amid the Britpop boom, hits cinemas today and stars Nicholas Hoult as Steven Stelfox, the cynical, morally bankrupt A&R man on the hunt for a hit – at whatever cost.

But what would Stelfox say to the musical stars of today if they walked into his office and begged for a record deal? Niven – who wrote the film’s script and the novel on which it was based – inhabited his character once more to find out…

Justin Bieber

Stelfox’s verdict: “I’m not sure about this kid. Something in the eyes. Scares the shit out of me. He looks like he’s about to climb the tower at his school with a rifle and start taking every fucker out. Nah –­ get him out of here.”


Jordan Hughes/NME

Stelfox’s verdict: “Lads, I won’t beat about the bush, there’s some tunes in here. But seriously, the lyrics? No fucker needs to be hearing you wanging on about all this mad eco balls or whatever. Look at U2. ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ and all that politics got them what? A poxy few hundred thousand sales. Sack that, here’s ‘With Or Without You’, proper ballad, and bosh, 10 million albums and five nights at Wembley. Have you thought about doing a cover of something?”

Ed Sheeran

Jordan Hughes/NME

Stelfox’s verdict: “Get the fuck out of my fucking office you busker fuck and take this tattered Starbucks cup full of 10p pieces with you.”

Little Mix

Stelfox’s verdict: “Girls, to say your music is appalling would be like saying Harold Shipman went a little bit mental. Then again, it’s nothing a few hundred grand’s worth of songwriters won’t fix. Just a word on the outfits: less of ’em. Come on – this is pop music, there’s no need to dress like a bunch of middle-aged school teachers in a bastard nunnery.”

James Bay

Jordan Hughes/NME

Stelfox’s verdict: “Excellent. This river thing nonsense sounds like a proper hit, son. It’s essentially one long chorus. Which is what we all want. However, what in the unholy name of fuck do you think is going on with that hat and hair combo? You like ‘Joshua Tree’-era Bono crossed with a human log. Lose the headgear, get a fucking haircut and we might be on to something here. And stop playing the guitar. Proper pop stars don’t play the guitar. Did you ever see Freddie Mercury strumming a fucking guitar? Exactly.”