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Yellow by Coldplay, and other songs which justify taking money off a busker

CERTAIN songs are so annoying or inappropriate it’s only fair buskers lose earnings for playing them. Here are some it’s fine to dip into their guitar case for.

Yellow, Coldplay (2000)

If you’re out with your kids you’ve already had your fill of whinging, so the last thing you need to hear is this bedwetter’s anthem. You don’t know what the lyrics are, but the high-pitched moaning could very easily be ‘I’m thirsty and my legs are tired’. Any busker inflicting this upon an unsuspecting audience owes everyone at least a tenner just for reminding them that Coldplay exist.

Hey Jude, The Beatles (1968)

This is a cheap shot. Encouraging a feel-good group singalong is the last refuge of the busking scoundrel. To make things worse, you debased yourself by joining in and now feel dirty and ashamed. Having done half the work, it’s only fair that the punters take a share of the spoils. 20p per ‘Na’ feels about right.

Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen (1975)

The ambition is admirable, the execution catastrophic. The sophisticated harmonies, shifting time signatures and complex structure just can’t be replicated by one guy with an acoustic guitar with a broken string. It’s as likely to succeed as making your own pet velociraptor out of chicken drumsticks. Grab a fiver from their hat and scarper before they retaliate with a rancid version of Paranoid Android.

Ironic, Alanis Morissette (1995)

A pavement café rendition of this 90s mega-hit seems harmless enough. Unfortunately, you’ll now spend the rest of your lunch break arguing about the definition of ‘ironic’ and coming up with your own more appropriate lyrics. What a waste of your non-work time. This busker owes you the price of a large latte and a tuna melt.

Three Little Birds, Bob Marley (1977)

It’s always uncomfortable when a 25-year-old white man launches into a reggae number. The mawkish optimism of this particular song doesn’t do anything to win you over. You’ll let him get away with it unless he… Oh God, he’s just done it. He just said ‘ting’ instead of ‘thing’. Empty his guitar case of coins. In fact, take his guitar too. And smash it.

A song you don’t know by an artist you’ve never heard of

Come on, mate. You’re busking in a shopping centre. People don’t want to hear an obscure Jesse Malin B-side or worse. Play a crowd-pleaser, something passers-by will actually want to listen to and mumble along with. What about Paperback Writer? Ah. You’re going for one of your own depressing tunes about being dumped by an anonymous girlfriend whose decision listeners wholeheartedly agree with. Give everyone a quid and piss off.