Britpop and Me

britpop 75Anyone who has known me in the last 15-20 years knows that one of my all-time favorite musical periods is the “Britpop” era.


britpop 500

Welcome to another edition of Up Around The Bend. Anyone who has known me in the last 15-20 years knows that one of my all-time favorite musical periods is the “Britpop” era. The fact that I adore Britpop comes as a surprise to many who knew me prior to its explosion.

Growing up in Omaha effing Nebraska in the 80s and early 90s, one was not exposed to a diverse musical culture unless it was featured on MTV, and even then it was Omaha, so chances of getting it were limited. Being a disenfranchised and jaded young adult circa 1994 one would never guess that I worship the likes of Jarvis Cocker, Bernard Butler, Gas Coombs, etc. I kept my liking fairly quiet for some time, as I’m pretty sure me being a fan of Cocker dancing around on stage or listening to Butler would have probably gotten me into a fight or two with some of the people I knew.

It really is hard to explain just why I love it so much. A lot of it has to do with most of the bands’ complete and total disregard for trying to appeal and break into the American audience. Several ended up doing just that, but it wasn’t by design. They were English (or Welsh or Scottish)—and damn proud of that fact—and were making music for English youth. Keep in mind that a lot of the scene and its rise were a reaction to grunge, which just didn’t seem to connect with English youth at the time. They wanted something to identify themselves apart from the angry, flannel-wearing Yanks. I won’t bore you with a history of the scene, a detailed timeline of its rise, summit, and decline. If you want that, I might suggest John Harris’ outstanding The Last Party: Britpop, Blair, and the Demise of English Rock. It really is an excellent look at the rise of Britpop. It does tend to focus a little too much on Blur and Oasis, however. Granted, they were two polarizing forces in the scene, but it was so much more to Britpop than the lad culture that Blur fostered and the big mouths of the Gallagher brothers. There are some outstanding singles, albums, and bands from this era and many folks here in the U.S. probably have never heard of them.

As a way of introducing some new, older music to people, I present to you what I consider my Top 10 Britpop songs. This is strictly my opinion and based on nothing more than that. This was actually very hard to do. There are so many great songs, and there are bands that I had to exclude as they are not Britpop per se (Manic Street Preachers and James being the main ones). Hell, I could have made a list entirely of Pulp or Supergrass alone. | Mike Koehler

10. Supergrass—“Seen The Light” Technically it’s outside of the “proper” Britpop era, but it would have been a hit prior to its fall in 1997.

9.Suede—“Animal Nitrate” Suede really gets credited (and should) with being the first true Britpop act, and their debut is still a classic piece of 90’s English rock—It is essentially about being young, drugged, and sexed in London.

8.Catatonia—“Road Rage” This might surprise some people. But it is a wonderfully, catchy pop song, and Cerys Matthews…

7.Elastica—“Stutter” 2:22 of punk-like goodness. I actually prefer this to their bigger hit, “Connection,” especially considering it’s about some guy’s inability to perform. We can only assume it was Damon.

6.Pulp—“Do You Remember the First Time”

5.Oasis—“Champaign Supernova” Even though it’s been so horribly overplayed, it’s still a fantastic song.

4.Oasis—“Slide Away” My favorite Oasis track. This epitomizes their sound so perfectly. Plus, it does contain Liam’s best vocals out of everything they’ve recorded.

3.Supergrass—“Caught By the Fuzz” The quintessential Supergrass song. They would go on to do many great things and remain one of my all-time favorite acts.

2.The Verve—“Bittersweet Symphony” I’m not going to write a lot about how much I love this song. It’s perfect in every way. Screw The Rolling Stones and their stupid lawsuit over the use of the strings in the intro. The video for this is probably my favorite music video ever. I really want to exude the coolness that Richard does in this. This song never, ever gets old.

1.Pulp—“Common People” Oh Jarvis. An incredible song period, regardless of what period it’s from. The slow build up to the frenzied end gets me every time. A song about a girl Jarvis knew in art school. An incredible personal tale that becomes a universal anthem on class tourism and a spiteful stab at celebritydom “slumming” that was occurring at the time in a sad, desperate hope of gaining street cred.

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