"Pretty Vacant" is a song by the English punk rock band the Sex Pistols. It was released on 1 July 1977 as the band's third single and was later featured on their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols, released during that same year. The song reached No. 6 on the UK Singles Chart and marked the band's first appearance on the British chart music TV programme Top of the Pops. The song gained attention for vocalist John Lydon's phrasing of the word "vacant", emphasising the last syllable to sound like the vulgar word cunt.[1][2] According to bassist Glen Matlock, the song's main riff was inspired by hearing "S.O.S." by ABBA. The B-side of the single was a cover of the Stooges' "No Fun", which the band played on the spot without a proper rehearsal. It was taken from demo sessions recorded by producer Dave Goodman.

"Pretty Vacant"
Pretty Vacant.jpg
Single by Sex Pistols
from the album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols
B-side"No Fun"
Released1 July 1977 (UK)
27 October 1977 (US)
15 October 2007 (30th anniversary re-issue)
GenrePunk rock
LabelVirgin (UK)
Warner (US)
Songwriter(s)Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon, Glen Matlock
Producer(s)Chris Thomas, Bill Price, Dave Goodman
Sex Pistols singles chronology
"God Save the Queen"
"Pretty Vacant"
"Holidays in the Sun"

The band made a video for "Pretty Vacant" (as well as one for "God Save the Queen") on 11 and 12 July 1977 at the studios of ITN in Wells Street, London. They were thrown out after throwing cans of lager at the cameramen on the 11th, but came back on the 12th to finish the recording.

NME magazine made it their Single of the Year in 1977.[3] In March 2005, Q magazine placed the song 26th in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. NME named it the 132nd-greatest song of all time in 2014.[4]

A live version of the track from Filthy Lucre Live was released as a single in 1996, and a 7-inch picture disc was released in 2012.


Chart (1977) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[5] 6

Covers and samplesEdit

"Pretty Vacant" was covered by Paul Jones in 1978.[6] Joan Jett released a cover version on single, and Joey Ramone used the lead riff in his cover of "What a Wonderful World".

The song was used in the 1981 film American Pop. An Irish-language version of the song, entitled "Folamh go Deas" (a literal translation), was also performed by Irish band Na Magairlí in 1981. In 1996 Black Grape released a cover version (very similar to the original) on their single "Fat Neck". South African pop group Shikisha also released a cover version of the song in 1996.[7]

The group the Ukrainians perform a Ukrainian language version of the song on their EP Anarchy In The UK and album Respublika. The French band Les Négresses Vertes, as well as grime MC Lady Sovereign, have both covered "Pretty Vacant" and performed live versions of the song. Lady Sovereign's version is featured in the popular TV show, The O.C. and the cover version is featured on one of the six The O.C. soundtracks called Music from The O.C.: Mix 6 – Covering Our Tracks. Kathy Hampson's Free Elastic Band feature a slow acoustic folk-music style version in their live shows.

The song is also the opening theme for the Canadian short-lived comedy sketch show The Vacant Lot.


  1. ^ John Lydon with Keith and Kent Zimmerman, Rotten: No Irish, No Blacks, No Dogs, Hodder and Stoughton, 1994 ISBN 978-0-340-61019-0, p. 272f.
  2. ^ Jon Savage, England's Dreaming. Sex Pistols and Punk Rock. London, Faber and Faber, 1991 ISBN 0-571-16791-8, p. 378.
  3. ^ "Rocklist.net...NME End Of Year Lists 1977". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. 9 May 1992. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Rocklist.net NME The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time.. 2014". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Sex Pistols: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  6. ^ "Discogs entry for Paul Jones cover". discogs.com. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
  7. ^ "World of Music, Arts & Dance". Womad.org. Retrieved 12 October 2016.

External linksEdit