The lyrics refer to the emerging indie scene in British music in the late 1970s and early 1980s, which is held in contrast to the "mutants, creeps and musclemen" of the major labels with their "expense accounts" and "lunch discounts", making "AOR" and using "chart-hyping" to sell their records. References are made to a number of UK independent labels (Small Wonder, Rough Trade, Fast Product and Factory).
The original UK release had "Radio One" by Mikey Dread as the B-side. A second issue released later in 1981 in the U.S. (catalog number 51013) replaced "Radio One" with "Police on My Back" as the B-side.
Like all other Clash singles, the song is also available in the 1991 compilation The Singles.
American indie band Joy Zipper covered "Hitsville U.K." for the Uncut magazine cover disc White Riot Volume Two: A Tribute to The Clash in 2003.