Soundtrack Of My Life: The Vaccines’ Justin Young On Loving Elvis And Covering Ariana Grande At Karaoke

What song made Justin Young want to be in a band? What was the first album he bought? And what track does he want at his funeral? The Vaccines man tells us the soundtrack of his life so far…

The first song I remember hearing

‘Blue Suede Shoes’, Elvis Presley – “My friend’s dad was a big American rock’n’roll fan, so when I was three or four, I’d go to his house all the time and this would always be playing. That definitely left a lasting impression on me, and so the first record I ever got was an Elvis live record spanning the period from ’55 to ’57.”


The first song I fell in love with

‘Johnny B Goode’, Chuck Berry – “An early memory, when I was about six or seven, is of me and my dad recording a cover of this, ‘cos it was my favourite song. It was on a little four-track. My dad loved and played music, so we had a room dedicated to it, full of instruments, with all these guitars, violins and a drumkit. At Christmas and birthdays, because obviously I couldn’t afford to buy my mum presents, we’d just write and record songs for her.”

The first album I ever bought

‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’, The Beatles – “I must have been about eight or nine. I’d had a couple of records bought for me before, but I’d received some birthday money and wanted to buy one for myself. I knew I liked The Beatles but I didn’t know which record was which or anything, so I went into a little record shop near where I lived with my mum and bought ‘Sgt Pepper’s…’ based on the cover and recommendations.”


The song that made me want to be in a band

‘Hound Dog’, Elvis Presley – “Again, it was The King! I wanted to be a musician when I heard Elvis. I wanted to be him. I would perform a cappella versions of Elvis songs to my class when I was six or seven. I always used to sing ‘Hound Dog’ – although I wasn’t any good at it! With Elvis, the whole package appealed to me. He was very seductive, not just as a musician, but as a character. He was very handsome and looked cool and had all these mannerisms and dance moves. It was aspirational. If I compared that to the more contemporary stuff I was listening to – or subjected to – at the time, it felt like he’d beamed down from space or been created in a lab.”

The song I can no longer listen to

‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite’, REM – “It’s a song off ‘Automatic For The People’, which is a record I love, but it was one of the records that was always playing in the car when I was younger. Now whenever I hear it, it reminds me of being a kid and being driven to school. I associate the lyrics ‘Call me when you try to wake her up’ with being trapped in a car on a rainy morning going somewhere I didn’t want to be going. So even though I love that record, it has these negative connotations to it.”

The song that makes me want to dance

‘Lookin’ For A Love’, Bobby Womack – “I love dancing actually – even though unfortunately I’m terrible at it. There’s so many songs that get me on the floor. ‘Lookin’ For A Love’ by Bobby Womack is a song that I always DJ because I think it makes people want to dance. It’s got a groove and a smoothness to it. It’s just sexy.”

The song I do at karaoke

‘Break Free’, Ariana Grande – “She’s the most unbelievable singer, so they’re always an absolute disaster. ‘Break Free’ is the one that’s really hard. But I’m ambitious! I go to karaoke loads. I often see Vaccines songs in the book which is cool – somebody thinks it’s funny and puts it on, but it normally only lasts about 10 seconds.”

The song I can’t get out of my head

‘Cheerleader’, OMI – “It’s my guilty pleasure but it’s in my head constantly. it’s just virulently catchy.”

The song I wish I’d written

‘Waterloo Sunset’, The Kinks – “’Waterloo Sunset’ has everything – perfect lyrics, the melody, the way it moves and changes, it feels so complete and evocative. When I was 12 or 13, I got a compilation called ‘Music Of The Millennium’, which contained what people had voted for as the most important tracks of the 20th century. ‘Waterloo Sunset’ was on it – and I loved it.”

The song I want played at my funeral

‘Without You’, Harry Nilsson – “Well, I want something to make people cry. I’d want them to feel bad. I’m not the kind of guy who wants people to feel happy or uplifted at my funeral. How would I like my funeral to be? Long, drawn-out, with road closures and front-page coverage on at least two broadsheets. Possibly the headline: ‘If You Wanna Come Back, It’s Alright’.”