Monday, February 05, 2007

In The Dock: Britpop

(If you're wondering what this is all about, click here.)

This week's subject: Britpop

The case for the prosecution (Ben)

As a grunge kid whose world was turned upside down by Nirvana (of which more in a few weeks), I was instinctively antipathetic towards Britpop. At the time, it seemed like a straight either / or choice. Looking back, my reaction was kneejerk, and over time I’ve come to appreciate the considerable merits of Pulp and Definitely Maybe – but that general dislike has never really dulled.

From fertile beginnings and after a brief flowering, every music “movement” withers, though generally not before sending forth some poisonous shoots. Undoubtedly, grunge threw up some very average bands: Alice In Chains and Silverchair, for a start. But Britpop elevated far more than its fair share of toss to grossly undeserved prominence. It’s right and proper that the charge sheet should list some of them: Geneva, Echobelly, The Bluetones, Cast, Menswe@r, Sleeper, Northside, Ocean Colour Scene. Musically spineless, lyrically pointless and will-to-live-sappingly shit the lot of them.

It was the music press who promoted these bands way beyond their talents. To a large extent Britpop was a media construction, perhaps more so than most music movements; certainly, the Oasis v Blur rivalry was cynically manufactured and then fuelled to increase sales of NME. A number of stylistically disparate groups were bundled together and marketed as “Britpop”, even though they were rarely representative of anything beyond the Good Mixer pub in Camden and bits of Manchester, or of anything other than white, conservative youth culture.

Not that the bands didn’t invite or even actively promote this impression of themselves. Britpop was a jingoistic response to grunge, the direct consequence of noses having been put out of joint by the plaid-shirted American oiks who had had the temerity to invade Britain via MTV and the airwaves. Oasis and Blur were not alone in revisiting their British (by which I mean English…) roots for “inspiration”. The back catalogues of The Beatles, The Kinks and The Jam were all duly exhumed and plundered.

Blur’s Parklife remains a glibly offensive appropriation of British (by which I mean English…) working-class culture, while, only a few years after Morrissey caused controversy by waving a Union Jack at Finsbury Park, Noel Gallagher had a guitar emblazoned with a Union Jack and Liam and Patsy snuggled up under a Union Jack duvet on the cover of Vanity Fair, either ignorant of or unconcerned by the flag’s racist associations. Meanwhile, British grunge copyists like Bush were lambasted not merely for not being very good but for being unpatriotic in daring to draw inspiration from across the Atlantic. My feeling that it was an either / or choice wasn’t just a figment of my imagination.

And then there was Britpop’s association with another phenomenon of the mid 90s, one which unfortunately remains with us today: New Laddism. The brothers Gallagher embodied the beery brainlessness and sexism of newly-founded lads’ mags like Loaded, but it was Blur – supposedly the cultured, intelligent alternative – who were responsible for Britpop’s absolute nadir, which appropriately enough came at its supposed peak. ‘Country House’ was itself utter drivel, but the video, partly inspired by ‘The Benny Hill Show’ and featuring lads’ mag favourite Joanne Guest, was infinitely worse. They claimed it was “ironic”. Bollocks.

And last but not least, may I point to the cosy collusion with New Labour, whose media-savvy leadership understood that image was all and that Britpop could be harnessed in their rebranding as a means of appealing to young voters and fuelling the “Cool Britannia” myth. When I recently (successfully) defended musicians dabbling in politics, I was only defending their right to do so; Noel Gallagher may have been too stupid to realise he was being used, but he was perfectly happy to dabble, extolling Blair’s virtues at every opportunity.

By the time Oasis released the bloated egofest Be Here Now, in August 1997, New Labour had swept to power, and Noel ‘n’ Tone had been snapped sharing a joke over a flute of champagne at No 10. Radiohead, who had sounded a jarring note during Britpop’s halcyon days with The Bends, saw through it all; their third album, released that June, contained the barbed commentary of ‘Electioneering’. Blur, meanwhile, had moved on. The wily Albarn has always been sensitive to cultural seachange, and less than two years after vigorously asserting and accentuating their Britishness, they had produced a self-titled album heavily influenced by American alternative rock and were busy proclaiming Pavement their favourite band. Britpop was dead. Good riddance.

The case for the defence (Dead Kenny)

So there I was, minding my own business, shooting the breeze (a pointless pastime, admittedly, but a guy's gotta have a hobby) when in blew the ill wind of an email reminder from Ben to say I had to provide a 750-word defence of Britpop by yesterday. This is how life starts to crumble like an arthritic spine - give a guy greying temples and he begins to resemble J Jonah Jameson already. Well, close... but no cigar, obviously.

My first instinct was to use the cop-out clause of just admitting hands-down that Britpop was inherently INDEFENSIBLE. Would've spoilt all your fun, for sure, but at least it would mean Dead Kenny'd spend the weekend chasing what the weekend's for - beer, women, and precious Premiership points for West Ham. But never let it be said that your correspondent has commitment problems, so following on from some intense internal dialogue, a compromise was brokered where the defence would be presented in some kind of approximation of stream-of-consciousness (uh-oh...) in place of the usual(?) serious and reasoned debate. Let's get ready to ramble, then.

First, the historical context. In March 2004, Oasis released their debut single 'Supersonic'. In April 2004 Kurt Cobain took a shotgun to his head. Coincidence? Possibly, if you listen to conspiracy theories and Sonic Youth too much. But just as punk was needed to wipe away the prog-rock cobwebs, Britpop simply had to happen to rid us of mopey Americans with personal hygiene issues who struggled so much to get laid that they were driven to scream "RAPE ME" in their lyrics (to which the only reasonable response was "not until you have a damn good shower, sunshine"). OK, Nirvana had their moments but their threatened afterlife of Bush, Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots was a fate worse than Def Leppard and it had to be crushed. The sneering glam stomp of 'Cigarettes And Alcohol' and life-affirming splendour of 'Live Forever' need to be heard within this perspective to be fully appreciated.

Next, the "definition of the genre to best suit my arguments" bit. My Britpop definition is anything that was British and Popular between 1994 and 1997, the timespan between the releases of 'Supersonic' and Oasis' third album Be Here Now. To clarify, The Prodigy are included, Kaiser Chiefs are not.

Next, the bit where we undercut the complaint that genre debate falls down when the identification of anything remotely good within it is used to validate a type of music that is otherwise inexcusable. In order to perform this conjuror's trick Dead Kenny will take a few from the top, take a few from the bottom and poke around a bit in the middle area until we get some joy.

So we'll cast to one side the top layer of undisputable greats from the time - Tricky's masterful and troubled Maxinquaye; the classic Oasis debut Definitely Maybe; Radiohead's The Bends and PJ Harvey slinking about on the Glastonbury stage in a skin-tight red catsuit. We'll also squeeze out the stinkiest of the irreducible, unredeemable shite - Ocean Colour Scene; Menswear; Weller's solo stuff; Fatboy Slim (his music's ageing worse than his clueless wife).

What we're left with then, are just our inbetweeners, giving us a reasonable impression of the real pulse behind a "genre" to compare with other times and styles. And the more you think about the Britpop era, the more you can't help but be struck by the sheer range covered - the art-school pop of Pulp; post-punk stylings of Elastica and cheerful melodic suss of Supergrass rubbing shoulders with the lush electronic thrum of Orbital; epic soundtrack material by Underworld and The Prodigy's bonkers electro ravings.

Even old shoegazers like Lush found some Top 40 action in the Britpop boom, Ealing in the years with the spiky 'Ladykillers'.

Oddballs like Jarvis Cocker and Neil Hannon were embraced into the mainstream in a way we hadn't seen since punk.

Multi-culturalism started to make itself felt with the emergence of Sonya Aurora Madan-led Echobelly; Cornershop and Asian Dub Foundation.

Girl singers were not just glamorous but they gave good copy as well - Sonya Aurora Madan again, as well as entertaining rentagobs like Shirley Manson and Louise Wener.

Derided by ultra-solemn rock snobs they may be, but concerts by the likes of Shed 7 and Sleeper supplied your correspondent with some of the best nights of his life. Shed 7's 'On Standby' contains one of the great intros of all time. Sleeper's 'Delicious' appears to be in praise of cum. Louise Wener made sleeping with your drummer fashionable long before Jack White.

TFI Friday may have been hosted by Chris Evans but how many great bands got to play live on mainstream TV at 6pm either before or since?

It's impossible to listen to 'Alright' by Supergrass without gagging on glee.

Lamb's 'Gorecki' displays arguably the best synthesis of beats and strings known to civilisation. It was one of the greatest songs of the 90s, if not all time.

Marion and Geneva were about fifteen years behind their time. Which meant they were also about eight years ahead of their time.

A review of a Supergrass / Bluetones double-header got your hack his first local press review. The Bluetones were described as having more harmonies, rhapsodies and melodies than a Captain Scarlet boxset.

Even rubbishy old Blur made a great tune eventually in 'Song 2'. Whoo-hoo, indeed.

Oh c'mon, Britpop was fun. The heaviness and darkness of the hangover since only highlights what a great fucken party it was at the time.

But then, Dead Kenny's just a git in front of the computer, just like you. So maybe you need to search for the hero inside yourself for the answers. Your correspondent did this once, and just found lots of mucus, viscera, bones, muscle and a pumping, beating heart. Which was a conclusion in itself, although the surgeons afterwards weren't quite so philosophical (serious fellows, but they soon had me in stitches).


PS Will this do?

* * * * *

Thanks to Dead Kenny - his overlength contribution will be forgiven just this once, because he was up against me and I'm feeling unusually lenient, but woe betide anyone else who tries to pass off over 1,000 words as being 750 or less!

Now it's over to you. Guilty or innocent - YOU decide. The comments box is open and awaiting your comments - you've got until Friday to make up your mind...


Blogger Ian said...

Innocent. This Is Hardcore alone justifies pretty much the entire "scene," and given my love for Blur, Elastica and a number of other bands, I can't say no...

3:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm 28 which means I was in my absolute teenage peak in 1995–97. Britpop was a terrible journalistic term, but it did grasp something that was happening with the explosion of British bands. Parklife wasn't all bad, and hey go back to Modern Life Is Rubbish - an incredible album. The Boo Radley's Giant Steps and Wake Up were phenomenal, anything ANYTHING by PJ Harvey. These bands were admittedly around before Britpop (part of the cause even) and have survived long since, but it was nice that they actually saw the limelight and were celebrated.

Wasn't this about the same time that the 'indie' charts became amalgamated with the mainstream charts? Just a vague memory, but I think that actually impacted on what was actually heard by the kids.

Not guilty despite a well done prosecution from Ben.

7:42 am  
Blogger Damo said...

Abstention, as neither argument really worked for me. The prosecution mentioned a lot of bands that were drivel and could have only gotten away with it at that time... then ruined it for me by including The Bluetones, a band I loved and still do. Their last album only came out about three months ago... I like to think that their were some bands that rose above that and survived for a reason. Silver Sun was another one. Saw them only last Thursday and the crowd still go mad for them - not just an ever diminishing band of people there for 'the old stuff', the songs from the post-reformation albums (that came out in 2005 and 2006) were just as well received. Their songwriter just knows how to write a hook.

That's kind of the 'pro'. The 'anti' is that, as was said, the movement was a manufactured one. The NME hasn't improved in that respect at all to this day - although it's gone downhill in just about every other respect. The creation of a 'movement' as opposed to a 'genre' means that when the paper decides it's over, so by association is everything they linked with it. Of course we don't have to listen to the NME, but unless you've got a lot of time on your hands it can be harder to keep up with so much once the mainstream papers stop writing about it.

To add to the confusion in these arguments - Shirley Manson? Britpop?

Britpop (the word) meant nowt to me, so I can't vote. I'm with Caskared on The Boo Radleys, incidentally - one of the most underrated bands of all time and history will hopefully judge them.

9:17 am  
Blogger Jonathan said...

I think we all share a dislike for journalistic cliche, hence the accusation that Britpop was a 'manufactured scene', but it really wasn't. It was an organic scene which evolved neatly out the drinking habits of a bunch of bands in the early 1990s - and was marked by the coming of age of some of Britain's best bands. You can trace the links between the bands and you could observe their influence upon each other.

Early Suede (who, incidentally, were magnificent and too often airbrushed out Britpop history) may have thrown androgynous shapes and recalled the Smiths, but they first fell out with Blur when Graham Coxon noted how closely Butler's guitar lines echoed his style. Obviously they were all friends with Elastica.

Jarvis Cocker was living in London and befriended a group of photogenic young indie kids, long before they formed a band (Graham Coxon, who drank in the same pub as them, suggested they call themselves Menswear) and asked them to appear in the video to 'Do You Remember The First Time?'.

Like all scenes it fragmented once people started writing about it detail, and particularly when the one band who really had nothing at all do with the others (Oasis) were lumped in with the phenonemon. Once that'd happened it became impossible to exclude other pointless retro-rockers like The Verve and The Stereophonics.

But some brilliant records were made in that period and had a lot in common; they shared influences (Kinks, Bowie, Buzzcocks, Smiths); they shared a refreshingly anti-macho attitude (which had alienated many of us from grunge), they wore similar clothes and took similar drugs.

Okay, so you probably wouldn't want to go back and listen to Supergrass or Elastica now, but Pulp's 'His N Hers', Suede's first few singles, and Blur's 'Modern Life Is Rubbish' are musical highpoints of the nineties. Not sure whether PJ Harvey really counts as britpop, nor Radiohead, but they both made amazing records in this period too, of course.

Strip out the fluff and britpop inspired some wonderful music.

11:28 am  
Blogger mike said...

Innocent, and here's the playlist for the defence:

Animal Nitrate - Suede
Live Forever - Oasis
End Of A Century - Blur
Connection - Elastica
Common People - Pulp
Yes - McAlmont & Butler
Wake Up Boo! - Boo Radleys
Reverend Black Grape - Black Grape
A Girl Like You - Edwyn Collins
Alright - Supergrass
A Design For Life - Manic Street Preachers
You're Gorgeous - Babybird
Something For The Weekend - Divine Comedy
Female Of The Species - Space
Not So Manic Now - Dubstar
Good Enough - Dodgy
Slight Return - The Bluetones
Bittersweet Symphony - The Verve
North Country Boy - The Charlatans
Nancy Boy - Placebo

12:03 pm  
Blogger Pete Ashton said...

Innocent. When you strp away the hype there are songs from that era that I still love, and the side effects - the rise of Jarvis Cocker as cultural commentator for example - are well worth it.

Are you telling me the first Elastica album doesn't hold up?

12:59 pm  
Blogger Damo said...

"Wouldn't want to go back to Elastica and Supergrass now?"

Erm, yes I would. This is another thing that clouds the argument for me - the idea you could like something once upon a time but not anymore. I kind of liked stuff because, erm, I liked it.

And I still can't get Britpop as a tag. What did Sleeper have in common with Elastica? And Elastica weren't even called "Britpop" to start with - they had the even worse genre strapping of "New Wave of New Wave". Another example of how ridiculous this whole categorisation seems to be...

1:16 pm  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Ben you expected me to *count* the words as well? I think last time I only used about 300 if that's any consolation.

Shirley Manson = Britpop using my definition of anything British (in that she is Scottish) and popular within the timeframe. Even if the rest of the band didn't qualify as either very much. Sorry for any confusion, I was clearly being overworked.

Thanks to all of you for providing the reasoned arguments I neglected. Thanks also to Mike for mentioning 'Not So Manic Now' by Dubstar, a lovely and timeless record if ever there was one.

11:21 pm  
Blogger Paul said...

As an avowed Britpop fan, Ben was always going to struggle to convince me, and surprisingly enough he hasn't done enough. It's one thing to say that Menswear were shit, but quite another to argue that by celebrating being British and using a Union Jack in the process, bands were somehow oblivious to the "flag's racist associations". Bollocks. You could equally argue that by embracing the flag, and the element of nationalism that goes with that, bands were simply reclaiming the flag from the far right. Wasn't the Liam and Patsy cover, merely a reimagining of a photo of John and Yoko from years before?

In 1996, as Oasis and Blur "battled in the charts" (Copyright: NME) England played host to a major footballing tournament, and did quite well, and in doing so made the country proud of their nationality. Subsequent tournaments have seen flags displayed from houses and cars, and in so doing have seen it become far more socially acceptable to be proud of one's nationality without the need for it to be seen as a far right political statement. If Britpop was involved in that happening, then so much the better. If it wasn't, it certainly didn't hurt.

Equally, blaming the music because it formed the soundtrack to everything else which happened at the time seems to me to be an unreasonable association. To tar Britpop on the basis of New Laddism is unfounded. To slag off those who were involved in the whole "Cool Britannia" thing is possibly reasonable, but then again when the wind of change blew in to Downing Street in 1997, few imagined that it wouldn't be the staunch Labour wind which many had hoped and expected. Being taken in by Alistair Campbell's spin machine was an unfortunate occurrence, but hardly something you can hold against Britpop for, lest you want to find everyone who voted Labour to power in 1997 guilty of the same crime.

At the end of the day Britpop was fun - and Grunge wasn't. If you can't enjoy Britpop for what it is (bright, sometimes brilliant, occasionally shallow but invariably enjoyable) that's your problem, but it is still no reason to piss on everyone else's chips.

As I explained during the A-Z, I like Echobelly precisely because it transports me to a time and place where the world wasn't complicated by work, or a mortgage, or anything more perturbing than whether the bloke in the off-licence would question my hand written ID, or serve me. The association with a very happy time in my life is one which is made everytime I hear certain pieces of music (all of which fall in to Kenny's definition of Britpop) and consequently puts a smile on my face.

Consequently, Britpop is resoundingly not guilty.

4:27 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not guilty. My musical tastes have progressed somewhat since, but ultimately it was Britpop that got me into music after years in Europe surrounded by Europap and Grunge.

At times it was simple and rubbish bands were two-a-penny, but that accusation can me thrown at pretty much any musical movement in the last few decades (Nu-Metal, NAM). But there was so much quality to come out of it. Pulp have been mentioned: a band stuck on the sidelines for over a decade, who were finally given the chance they deserved because Britpop had caught the public's attention.

In any case, I completely agree with Damo and Caskered on The Bluetones and The Boos respectively. The 'tones debut is still one of my favourites over a decade on.

6:17 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Ouch ouch ouch.

Time to fight back...

I couldn't believe the breadth of Kenny's definition of Britpop - but was then even more amazed to see the consensus on this. Radiohead? PJ Harvey? TRICKY? Of course my points about it being a white conservative phenomenon are rubbish - if you accept that practically everything produced in Britain between 1994 and 1997 constituted Britpop.

Of all the defences here in the comments box Jonathan's is the only one that made me think about my position. (While I took onboard Pete A's point about "the rise of Jarvis Cocker as cultural commentator", I couldn't help but cringe at Kenny's bizarre attempt to bracket him in with Neil Hannon as one of British pop's great eccentrics. WHAT?!) Jonathan makes a very good point about Britpop arising from a particular time and place - but then the argument that it was a media construction was never the crux of my argument.

Paul: I don't buy the reference to Euro 96. If that was relevant, then why wasn't it called Engpop and why wasn't everyone cavorting with the English flag? Perhaps they should have been - my point was that it simply wasn't a truly British phenomenon, something that Jonathan implicitly acknowledges.

My original first paragraph acknowledged the problem in attacking Britpop for exactly the reason Paul specifies at the end of his comment. Was never going to stop me, though...

Mike: Space? The Divine Comedy? Dodgy? Dear oh dear. I had you down as a man of taste... ;)

All that said, perhaps there would be a perverse sort of pride to be taken in suffering the first whitewash, so keep it coming...

11:16 pm  
Blogger Del said...

RIGHT! I've been storing this up since Sunday evening, so here goes...

I really really really hate the term Britpop. I hated it then and I hate it now. Jonathon absolutely hits the nail on the head when he says that lumping in Oasis and co with Blurpulpsuedelastica more or less destroyed the scene. Once Oasis won the war, the interesting stuff was pretty much over, and Dadrock ruled the roost. Then Diana died, and it was The Verve every 5 minutes. Lord save us.

But I simply must object to a few points from both sides. Firstly, the demonisation of Blur. One of my favourite bands. Yes, we all know Damon is a dick, but it's about the music. Modern Life and Parklife are still a great albums. And you know what, I'm going to go out on a limb, so is The Great Escape. Pop masterpieces. The bredth of styles and quality of the music and sheer ambition of the lyrics is staggering. The appropriation of British working class aesthetic is partly true, but it was Blur playing on British stereotypes, toying with a concept of Britain, and especially England, that was being lost in the face of global homogeny. A little Englander mentality perhaps, but the Britpop trio of albums are fascinating studies in British identity.

Everyone got it so wrong, principally, I think, because they thought that Phil Daniels' vocals on 'Parklife' were in fact Damon. Yes, he may have dropped a few H's, but so fucking what. I'd rather have ambitious art rock which plays roles and uses it's imagination than the oh so authentic aged for 40 years dullness of dadrock. Yes Country House was a mis-step, but it's the most subversive cry for help since John Lennon penned 'Help!' Listen out for 'Blow blow me out I am so sad I don't know why' and Graham's anti-guitar solo. It was the sound of a band trying to please the party and falling apart. It's morbidly fascinating.

Dismissing Damon as a culturally slumming Kinks rip off is lazy and missing the point. Blur sound about as much like the Kinks as Oasis sound like The Beatles.

The fact that Blur kissed goodbye to Britpop with 'Beetlebum', brilliantly inspired by the relatively untouched sleazy, sexy side of the fab four whilst sounding better than anything Noel Gallagher could ever manage, shows Damon's true genius.

Other than that, Britpop was like a cultural wave. Whilst it lifted great bands to greater heights (Pulp as mentioned benefitted greatly, and are now arguably THE archtype Britpop band, moreso than Blur), it also brought up the less good bands. But for every Kula Shaker there was a Kenickie, for every Cast a Supergrass. Every UK guitar act since 95 has benefitted from that invasion, even if only as something to react against.

Just like every scene before and every one since, Britpop had its good and bad points. Comparing it to Grunge only highlights this fact: a handful of great bands (Nirvana, Hole on their day, Babes in Toyland), and a flood of unlistenable shit (everyone else!) riding on the coattails of those with real talent. At least when Damon and Jarvis realised the folly of fame they went on to make great music, rather than blowing their brains out....

Britpop as a scene was massively flawed, but, for a few years, it was my scene. Not guilty.

(I hope there isn't a word limit on comments... Sorry!)

1:25 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben: I remember wathcing and videoing a Britpop Now special from the BBC and it had Polly Jean in the time I thought it was incongruous, but as it's a term invented by the press, why not stick to their terms when discussing it!

Damo: I totally forgot New Wave of New Wave! I bought an NME with the big item on how it was going to save British music. I liked Collins and Maconie's Hit Parade calling it Nerwonwah.

BBC link

10:11 am  
Blogger Paul said...

My Euro 96 comment was only to pick up on your criticism of Britpop as a musical expression of national pride, and the far right implications which you then raised.

The fact that the Union Jack is used as an expression of national pride is largely an English invention anyway - ask anyone from Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland to show you their flag, and it won't be the flag of the union they pull out.

Anyway, we're digressing (well I'm digressing), and debates about nationality are probably better suited to a different forum.

12:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Britpop is a term I disliked at the time and still it sends shivers down my spine. Instead of hearing the music of Pulp or Blur I'm haunted by images of the gurning Gallaghers and Shed Shit singing mobile phone adverts.

So much can be shoehorned into this broadest of genres (PJ Harvey & Tricky for example) that critism becomes impossible - everyone liked at least one band/artist who's been tarred by the Britpop brush.

I'm sticking my neck out here and voting guilty.
All the bands I liked within the genre (and there were many) could quite happily have existed and flourished without the Britpop banner flying over their heads, it would've just been called indie as it had been before. Those who were just there making up numbers (menswear, cast, etc) and annoying my face would hopefully perish.

It's the terminology I'm voting against, not the music. I hope I win.

1:54 pm  
Blogger Del said...

It's a fair point, Nick. I would happily vote against Grunge, despite being a fan of several Grunge bands.

Just for the record, I think Menswe@r were alright. In fact, I bought the album. Ironically, the hidden track on the end is by far the best thing on it, but it's not that bad. Honest!

2:11 pm  
Blogger Dead Kenny said...

Well, there was me thinking that describing Neil Hannon as a little bit on the odd side was possibly the least contentious thing I've said during my entire existence!

For the record, Ben, I described Hannon as an 'oddball' not 'one of British pop's great eccentrics'. Perhaps a better pair of reading glasses would have reduced the cringe factor for you!

10:03 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

Del: I suspected that was coming - especially all the stuff about Blur! That's a very charitable perspective you have on their mid-90s stuff, and 'Country House' in particular...

Kenny: OK then - what I meant was that you had bracketed Hannon in with one of British pop's great eccentrics (Jarvis), and therefore implied there was some sort of similarity between the two. Which there categorically wasn't.

Nick The Snick: Liked your point about the Britpop banner - that was indeed the sole reason some of those bands were thrust to prominence.

12:01 am  
Blogger paul said...

Not guilty...because of the tunes more than anything else - I don't really have an ounce of musical snobbery in me - to whit, Dodgy's second album Homegrown is one of my favourite albums ever (although I can't really get on with either of the other two). I loved Parklife when I was 17, and Definitely Maybe was perhaps the second most exciting first listen to an album that came out during my lifetime I've ever had...Pulp are, obviously, a terrific band. The supporting cast of britpop lend the odd tune - despite Ben's protestations, Mike's playlist works well for me (although I never could quite understand the appeal of You're Gorgeous). I never liked the term, but I always kind of liked the music.

7:33 am  
Blogger LB said...

Good lord. Mike appears to have stolen my "mid to late 1990's" playlist...

If it weren't for "Different Class", the record that changed everything, there is a fair likelihood I may still be listening to Gun, Thunder, Def Leppard and the Little Angels. There are so many great records from that era - I could easily treble Mike's list without thinking - that it's about the firmest "not guilty" from me yet.

(I actually listened to Space's "Tin Planet" album just last week, incidentally. "The Ballad Of Tom Jones" is a *great* record...)

9:10 am  
Blogger Del said...

Interesting. If the prosecution had mentioned the 'Ballad Of Tom Jones' I might well have changed my verdict to guilty.

11:39 am  
Blogger Ben said...

Paul: Funny that - Mike's list makes me shiver at the mere thought of being subjected to some of those songs! But therein lies the difference between me and everyone who's commented...

Del: Damn!

Forgot to say before, and I think I can do it now that the dust has nearly settled - I agree with Nick The Snick's point that "everyone liked at least one band/artist who's been tarred by the Britpop brush". I know I did, and do - Pulp, for a start. But then, as he also suggested, they were one of the bands that predated and survived Britpop. And in any case, as I imagine most contributors have found, trying to put together a coherent and consistent case demands that you're one-eyed and overlook anything that might counteract your own argument. It's up to commenters to point out the inconsistencies and flawed logic - a job we're all getting very good at!

5:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With the bands like Pulp, The Boos and others, it was partially being tarred by the Britpop brush that actually got them heard by more than the handful of indie kids who would video The Beat on ITV in the small hours. And as I've worked through my pseudo-muso-hogging-I-liked-them-first-phase, I summise Britpop was a good thing!

10:45 pm  
Blogger Ben said...

drmigs has asked me to post his verdict because he can't get the comments system to work this week - and it's another vote for Kenny. How galling is that?!

"Nice try Ben, but no, it's definitely one for the defence. Britpop gets the drmigs thumbs up.

I must admit to living in the naiive world of a transistor radio and insomnia during britpop, so the the tv / video / graphic media aspect is lost on me. However, Britpop was the sixth form soundtrack that got
me into music hook line and sinker. It came as a refreshing
alternative to the over-produced late eighties / early nineties sound.

I was sucked in by the Blur, Elastica, Pulp, Sleeper side of the sound. Indeed, it is only recently I re-listened to Oasis and begun to appreciate them; I couldn't see past their tawdry attitude at first. On that subject, I never will warm to the likes of Cast etc.

But if pushed, I guess the vote would come down to the fact that
without Britpop, I wouldn't have gone to the Sleeper concert at which Louise Wener met my eye whilst she sang 'You're Delicious, Oh-oh.' I think she saw a mind that she could twist and confuse with those few words, which she certainly did. Damn her. But not enough to make me side with the prosecution you understand ;-)

And would I not go back to listen to some of the music from then
(f*ck, how have I managed to slip into Graham Taylor's lexicon)? I
only have the likes of Elastica and Portished on cassette, but its
still worth the effort.

Yes, Britpop was alright by me, and it's one more for the defence."

2:20 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Ben.

Fortunately my browser at work is working. Which gives me the chance to also say that with all this Sleeper bashing going on, I also have to thank them for introducing me to the marvellous urban legend about Mr Gorsky.

If it is a lie, it is a good one ...

9:30 am  
Blogger Unknown said...

As much as I admire the prosecution... and as much as Britpop is a horror in my mind, the pleasures of Pulp, Elastica, the first Oasis LP (maybe even the 2nd), bits of Blur all compel me to side with the defence...

I'd much rather have seen Chris Evans in the dock.....

4:22 pm  
Blogger swisslet said...

I'm too late to vote on this - interesting debate though it has been, and much though I love some of the bands that were dropped into the vast categorisation of "Britpop", it's hard to get past Ocean Colour Scene, Kula Shaker, Chris Evans and some of the other bandwagon jumpers for me.

What I will say though are that Alice in Chains were a good band. I listened to "Dirt" the other day and was astonished at how well it had held up. How could you be so dismissive? You were almost polite about Reef too!


10:58 pm  
Anonymous Buy mens leather biker jacket said...

hi,i really like ur post.
much though I love some of the bands that were dropped into the vast categorisation of "Britpop", it's hard to get past Ocean Colour Scene, Kula Shaker,

9:57 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed reading this post!
Now, I don't really think Britpop is that bad, there are good bands like Travis, Coldplay, Oasis, Muse... even The viagra Band, though not as famous as the other ones.
But dude, grunge kicks asses!

5:14 pm  
Anonymous aUSTIN lODGING said...

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7:09 am  

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