Stop Getting Britpop Wrong
Apparently there is a Britpop community.
I was part of that at one point.
I didn’t know.
I just thought I was a person who wrote about the music I loved, but then someone else in the “community” sent me an email informing me that I was no longer part of it but that with a bit of hard work and a willingness to show some contrition I could be readmitted.
But no thanks.
When I first started writing about the British music scene of the nineties I went along with the most common definition of “Britpop” - British guitar music (God that expression makes me feel sick) of the nineties. That included everything from Denim to Ocean Colour Scene. I also went along with the timeline as set by other commentators on the period - 1992, specifically Blur’s “Popscene” to 1998 and the release of Pulp’s “This is Hardcore”.
Then I started to write a book on the period and I realised that my “Britpop” experience didn’t include any of the dad rock, bloke rock, lad rock, bands. When I was dancing at the disco (specifically Blow Up!) it wasn’t to “The Riverboat Song” and “The Drugs Don’t Work”, when I was getting suited and booted for a night on the town I wasn’t draping myself in a cagoule and some sneakers. Instead I was cutting some rug to film scores (everything from Roy Budd’s “Carter Takes a Train” to Palo Schifrin’s “Theme from Enter the Dragon”) television themes (Ski Sunday was a favourite of mine) and classic soul and pop with a smattering of the new wave of new wave cool kids from that London. I was dressed up too, never dressed down. Skinhead chic, suedehead clobber, and the best aspects of Mod. That wasn’t just me either…it was everyone on the “scene”.
That was true right up until the whole thing went properly mainstream in 1994 with the arrival of “Parklife” and the brutalism of Oasis. Something changed. Everything changed. And then, just like Keyser Soze, it was gone. It was as if it had never really existed. In its place came something less interesting, something less exciting, and something much more traditional.
That doesn’t mean that there were no great records released by bands who could be labelled Britpop after that point, it just means that those “Britpop” bands were no longer “Britpop” and the people who had fuelled the rise of those bands had, for the most part, moved onto other things… the cool kids always do, right? Who wants to be like everyone else? Bleurgh.
Britpop is not the same thing as Cool Britannia.
It doesn’t start with “Popscene”.
It doesn’t end with “This is Hardcore”.
Here are the thirty definitive records/artists of the true Britpop moment - 1991-94. I won’t be taking any questions at this time.
“London Belongs to Me” by Saint Etienne (1991) “The Drowners” by Suede (1992)
“I’m Against the Eighties” by Denim (1992)
“Popscene” by Blur (1992)
“Babies” by Pulp (1992)
“Visionary” by Strangelove (1992)
“Showgirl” by The Auteurs (1992)
“Madame Devant” by David Devant and his Spirit Wife (1993) “Natalie” by Duffy (1993)
“Stutter” by Elastica (1993)
“Lust Filled Boys” by Skinned Teen (1993)
“I Don’t Belong Here” by Echobelly (1993)
“Diminished Clothes” by Salad (1993)
“Alice in Vain” by Sleeper (1993)
“Girl A, Girl B, Boy C” by My Life Story (1993)
“Wish I Was Skinny” by Boo Ridley’s (1993)
“Her Jazz” by Huggy Bear (1993)
“So Glad” by Thrum (1993)
“England’s Dreaming” by Cornershop (1993)
“Blisters and Bruises” by Shampoo (1993)
“Real Surreal” by S*M*A*S*H (1993)
“All Grown Up” by The Weekenders (1994)
“Sad” by Mantaray (1994)
“Mini” by Corduroy (1994)
“VHF 855V” by Tiny Monroe (1994)
“Disappointed” by Flamingoes (1994)
“Slave to the Fashion Page” by Soda (1994)
“This Way” by Thurman (1994)
“Speeed King” by These Animal Men (1994)
“No Time” by Whiteout (1994)