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Modern Life Isn't Rubbish: The Trouble With Britpop Nostalgia
Luke Turner , April 10th, 2014 05:49

The mainstream media are currently engaged in a collective misty-eyed throwback to the 'glory days' of the mid 90s. Luke Turner, who was a teenager at the time, argues that the current canonisation of Britpop is as musically and socially conservative as 1960s nostalgia

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"They say the past must die / For the future to be born / In that case die... die..." Pulp - 'Monday Morning', 1995

"You grow up thinking pop's golden age was in the past. Suddenly it became the centre of things" - Jarvis Cocker, BBC Radio 2, 2014

It was July 6th, 1995. A hot summer's evening. London was, to a naive and wet-behind-the-ears 16-year-old, still a rather intimidating place - I think it wasn't long before this, on a CD shopping trip to HMV and Virgin, that I saw someone being beaten with a bicycle chain in King's Cross, in broad daylight. So we were glad to get off the train from St Albans to Kentish Town and head inside the Forum for the concert in aid of homeless charity Shelter, with Elastica, Gene and SMASH all on the bill. The latter were part of the New Wave Of New Wave, that speed-addled movement that slightly pre-dated Britpop, and were in a petulant mood. I think they walked off early after smashing something. My hero Jarvis Cocker was there, a friend had a piss next to Mark Lamarr (then riding high as host of Shooting Stars, that most Britpop of television programmes), Damon Albarn slouched onstage to present a prize, Gene were eloquent in their Home Counties Morrissey thing (their first album's not bad), and Elastica were a tour-de-force of black-clad, fringe-flicking, high-energy saucy punk. Everyone went home sweaty.

From what I recall, there was a strange atmosphere that night, the sense of something about to burst. It would only be a matter of weeks before the whole ludicrous Blur versus Oasis chart battle would begin, and the whole movement of a limited number of bands based around the Camden area of North London - the capital even managed to make Oasis its own - became the subject of media headlines and features on the BBC. Two decades later, the same media - and especially the BBC - is falling over itself to celebrate the anniversary of the first rumblings of Britpop's commercial success: the death of Kurt Cobain and the release of Blur's Parklife. It's a tired narrative that lends itself to the kind of hackery seen in this Evening Standard article, though admittedly Tuesday's Today programme on Radio 4, in which Evan Davies tried to get St Etienne's Bob Stanley to explain exactly what Britpop was - "how was it different from hip hop?" he asked, in a crazed tone of voice - was at least amusing.

Back in 1995 I was Britpop's target market, and I ought to be right in the middle of the mod t-shirt bullseye of this current raid on the memory banks. I had become, as young white men from England who avidly read the NME are wont to, a rather conservative teenager when it came to my music taste, buying into the limited narrative that I was offered by the music press. Until Britpop, my listening tastes were fairly broad, taking in anything from The KLF to chart pop, early Prodigy and rave, Soundgarden, Leonard Cohen, Boney M and the Top Gun soundtrack. Britpop's narrow aesthetic, and that of the media that lauded it, ruined all that, turning me into the kind of wally who'd list the 'right' bands on their school ruler. It took me years to recover, and it was only really the rise of detestable lad culture as a core aspect of Britpop that helped wean me off the stuff.

This is why I find the current media storm around Britpop's anniversary so troubling. It's a celebration of the very conservative, a backward glance to something that was already backwards-looking. It's not twee, exactly, but it is very Keep Calm And Carry On, it is very cosy, it is very mod, parochial, flag-wavy - "Yanks go home" mag covers, and so on. Indeed, a Google image search of the term 'Britpop' occupies the overlapping point of the Venn diagram between Oasis' fanbase, UKIP's youth wing, and a crap London souvenir stall.

I'm not denigrating the entire movement, or even my own teenage self, or anyone else who lived through the time and loved the music. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater here: the bath of Britpop was, after all, an entirely dubious concept in the first place, and one largely invented by a lazy media. There were some great albums released back then, just as there are great albums released in any given year, and may of them stand up outside this spurious scene. I've written extensively on Suede in the past, at first because I felt their reputation was in such dire straits before their reunion that they deserved to be able to make their point, and more recently because their new material - in the form of last year's Bloodsports album - proves they're still capable of writing music as good as the stuff that made them accidentally invent Britpop in the first place. An aside: before you all start clamouring, yes The Quietus will be running anniversary features on some of them, but always looking to find new insights and angles, and never at the expense of our coverage of new music.

The likes of Suede's Dog Man Star and Pulp's Different Class will forever rank among my all-time favourites. The latter is arguably more relevant today then when it was released - see the incredible class fury of the wonderful, vicious 'I Spy'. Pulp were one of the most political groups ever to get to the top of the charts, something that's often overlooked. Parklife? No thanks - it's smug and complacent, aside from the ballads, and you should never trust a band whose best songs are their ballads. We could go on.

Memory of your teenage years is always unreliable, and we certainly don't need the mediator of the British media's rose-tinted spectacles to convince us that the greatest years of your life were when you'd just done your GCSEs, were still living at home, couldn't drink, and found negotiations with sexually attractive people as intractable as the Israel-Palestine conflict. Imagine it! One suspects that, exactly as was the case with the 1960s, a few people who did have what they thought was a marvellous time (a bleeding nose underneath a table at the Groucho with Keith Allen and Alex James, perhaps) are now in the position to call the shots and dictate the narrative of what we are all told to remember. 

At some point we must break this cycle, this endless fetishising of both the past and youthful memory of it - a habit that the Baby Boomers (as I wrote here) are most guilty of, of course. Perhaps with 2013's Britpopathon, this is actually happening. Mine is not the only dissenting voice - take, for one example, Quietus writer Nick Southall, who presents a very different take on things, from the perspective of a teenager living in rural Devon. What's interesting about the reaction of so many of my generation to this wave of Britpop guff is how mortified so many of us are with it. This is the first 'Golden Age' to be remembered by a generation who, in their late teens, discovered the internet, and who by now are engaged in and comfortable with social media.

The fracturing of music since the mid-1990s means that we're all a few steps ahead of the mainstream newspapers, magazines and radio stations, and I've seen and participated in a lot of very heated debates and threads on Facebook about the whole thing over the past week or so. Some of the participants have been journalists who were working at the time and have a very different take on events from the 'everyone pissed at the Good Mixer' narrative that we're always being fed. Perhaps the tired hagiography of a few hot months twenty-odd years ago isn't necessarily striking the kind of chord that BBC 6 Music presumably hope will be represented in RAJAR figures in a few months' time.

I hope so, because Britpop nostalgia, like 60s nostalgia, like any nostalgia, is by its very nature something that halts progress, that stymies creativity and evolution, oftentimes exactly when it's most needed. Much as I might wish Jarvis Cocker would have a bit of a break from being a National Treasure, and come back with a Pulp album as biting in its politics and pop as those he made in the 90s, I'd rather hear that from a new artist in the charts. As ever with the celebration of Golden Ages, the true casualty is not the slightly embarrassed older listener who is, after all, perfectly capable of switching off, but the younger artist and music fan who is not getting exposure, who is being denied a contemporary culture of their own, and who, worst of all, is being told tough luck, the best things are already in the past. You missed out.

Given the appalling situation with education in our country, increasing inequality, a bleak job market and a ludicrous housing situation, Britain's youth do not need to be fed with the lie that everything was better when Lammo and Whiley were on Radio One and you could pick up a Kula Shaker single for 99p*. Part of being a music critic ought to be about disassociating your ears from the obscurant hormone rush of discovering and falling in love with music for the first time as a teenager. Those of us who have the means and the capacity to write owe it to them not to patronisingly hold up our own past lives as somehow superior to theirs, being lived and struggled through right now.

After Elastica left the stage on July 6th 1995 my then girlfriend and I took the train home. We somehow ended up climbing over the fence into the local park where, fumbling and awkward, we had sex on the grass, next to the swings. I saw stars, but they were just the ones through the trees in the clear summer sky. We went home in silence. Do you remember the first time? Me? I can't remember a worse time.

*Yes, I bought a Kula Shaker single for 99p.

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ADC
Apr 10, 2014 10:11am

Britpop was pretty awful and the current nostalgia-fest feels pointless...
http://absolutedisastercharlie.wordpress.com/2014/04/01/britpop-shitpop/

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R.B.
Apr 10, 2014 10:26am

Pop music is dead.
It was invented by plastics manufacturers and engineers as a way to sell cheap-to-press products to a mass market.
It started life unfair, unbalanced and corporate, and it returns to that graveyard, with Simon Cowell as its grim reaper.
Kids don't pick up a guitar and dream of being a rockstar any more, unless their pushy parents sent them to stage school.
Times change.
Music nostalgia - especially 60s and britpop - show us that you can have ultra-accessible, consumer friendly music that is popular and populist, but is but intelligent and non-patronising too. That is why it is worth remembering.

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Chester Whelks
Apr 10, 2014 11:12am

Ignore it. You're only perpetuating the myth by offering any sort of opposition. 'Britpop' like 'Grunge' was a fabrication by the mainstream media, and this celebration thereof is a belated, but inevitable fart. It's important that such bands/movements get canonized in order for new generations to violently disavow.

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Jeffrey
Apr 10, 2014 11:14am

That last paragraph was one of the clumsiest endings to an article I have ever read in my entire life. Shocking.

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Steve Stevens
Apr 10, 2014 12:12pm

Quite a crap article. Nostalgia is what it is. Much of the sneering about Britpop is warranted, but it was a great time to be a teenager into bands. Oh and Blur were the only truly great band to emerge from it. I like Pulp too (Supergrass are the only other remotely credible 'Britpop' band) but the problem with The Pulp People is they think being a Pulp Person makes them smarter and more discerning than the rest. It doesn't. Pulp were good, but Jarvis's "bloke in the pub" observations and witticisms were just that...the sort of stuff you'd hear from a bloke in the pub. Funny, interesting and often dirty, but nothing remotely new or smart. Musically - the writing and the playing - Pulp were rudimentary. Blur boasted a genius songwriter who wrote with incredible musical depth, and a genius guitar player. By far and away the most important and challenging band of the period.

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Phil
Apr 10, 2014 12:59pm

In reply to Steve Stevens:

"Genius"? Really? Christ, if making limp, third-rate indie records qualifies you for genius status these days we really are all fucked. I don't know if Pulp People are really smarter than anyone else but they're certainly more discerning given that Pulp were the only band tied up with the retrogressive, conservative horror that was Britpop who weren't absolutely bloody awful. Blur, Oasis, Menswear, Echobelly, Sleeper ... just utterly dreadful, the lot of them.

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Chris D
Apr 10, 2014 1:17pm

Britpop celebrations - waste of time. Complaining about Britpop celebrations - waste of time.

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D.Sull
Apr 10, 2014 1:41pm

I agree that Suede and Pulp represented the best of Britpop. It was a musical moment just as much as glam or new romantics or anything else and people are bound to look back. It doesn't have to be for idle nostalgia. Certainly there are problematic features that ought to be addressed such as the fact that not everyone welcomed the concurrent swing towards lad culture which unfortunately has not only lingered but festered.
My own objection to the BBC's look back is the insensitivity of the timing - The exact date of Kurt Cobain's twentieth anniversary. Could they not have waited a few weeks? Nirvana meant as much to music fans of a certain age as Britpop did and this should not be all about knee-jerk anti-Americanism. It certainly shouldn't be about skipping around a young man's grave.

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H Tazer
Apr 10, 2014 1:42pm

Mark Lamarr was the host of Never Mind the Buzzcocks not Shooting Stars! Shooting Stars transcends musical genres.

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Britcrock
Apr 10, 2014 2:20pm

Must agree with everyone else. Why would anybody want to celebrate loads of people enjoying non elitist popular music? Why listen to Blur or Pulp, or Suede when you could be enjoying These New Puritans or Grumbling Fur. The young pop kids don't know how lucky they are these days.

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ES
Apr 10, 2014 2:22pm

I don't think nostalgia is as dangerous as the writer purports it to be in this article. I think it's a very natural process of memory and reconciliation, and moving forward. 6 Music, however, loses its credibility with how it is handling the anniversary. It's all too celebratory and self-congratulatory, and misses completely self criticism.

As for the fact that Britpop was nostalgic itself, creating a double layer of backward glancing: all music has reference points and some are more obvious than others. Even the most avant garde music can seem banal when taken in the context of the artistic movements providing influence.

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auteur55
Apr 10, 2014 3:13pm

Boo Radleys, Supergrass, Mansun, Pulp, Auteurs, Suede, Denim, Tindersticks, Blur, Verve (first two albums), Saint Etienne... Moan about all the weaker bands if you want but there was a ton of great bands and music from that time. Some of them still making great music today.

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k
Apr 10, 2014 3:38pm

All these post mortems of music scences & trends always end in dissapointment. If you enjoy the music that's enough. It all comes back to making money in the end. Rock n'roll, britpop, grunge, punk, ect..ect..

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Jamie
Apr 10, 2014 3:47pm

The current BBC radio coverage (mainly 6 Music) is making me a bit nauseous. But these things are always subjective. Like Kulkarni's mostly excellent 'A New 90s' series from a couple of years ago readdressed this sort of myopic view of British music from that period, spotlighting the decade's alternative narratives by rightly fully showcasing the likes of Bark Psychosis, Main, Pram, Disco Inferno and Insides. As such I was kind of looking forward to what he might have to say about the current Brit Pop schtick. But his pieces were also flawed by being that bit to biased. And this is the crux of what these things miss, and why they are ultimately redundant. Individual experiences are too diffuse for any campaign to ever really successfully summarise an entire period of history. Just as Kulkarni bashed Nirvana and "Nevermind" (and - more importantly - their cultural canonisation) as a musical cul-de-sac, and here Turner has a pop at Blur, the negative impact of these bands on one person's life is just that: a singular narrative. For me Nirvana and Blur represent two incredible points of departure into new (and old) music which I wouldn't have necessarily discovered without them.

As such April 1994 is a weird month for me on reflection: Cobain ended both his own life and that of my favourite ever band, "Parklife" by Blur came out I heard Merzbow for the first time c/o the John Peel show. The end of and beginning of a series of disparate but inter-related trajectories of musical discovery I continue on to this day.

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Yorin Best
Apr 10, 2014 5:01pm

the trouble with Brit Pop is people recognising it as something to bleat on about, good or bad.
the entire era and all of the bands involved were so fucking dull, can we not just move on and live in the here and now?

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Yorin Best
Apr 10, 2014 5:02pm

In reply to Chris D:

pointing this out, a waste of time..

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Apr 10, 2014 6:33pm

First, we live in an events culture in this country. The arts, the media, even our new buildings are all caught up in this never ending agenda of celebratory events. Twenty years since Britpop? Great! We can make an event out of that. Secondly, nostalgia is a potent force in the UK, and it was that old reactionary Thatcher who who recognised its power and harnessed it to a false sense of national identity. She created the heritage industry. Britpop was a perfect fit, then and now.

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paul
Apr 10, 2014 6:33pm

In reply to Yorin Best:

Self-defeating comment, in itself. :) As is mine.

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Apr 10, 2014 7:47pm

This is a discussion for and about British people and they way they see themselves, the rest of the world just enjoys that music. It is always entertaining to watch Luke hang on weird subcultural ways of thinking to base his dislike of Albarn. We - the rest of the world- don't give a shit about these things. We thank Blur for Popscene, Coping, Trouble in the Messdage Center, Country Sad Ballad Man and all these weird art-pop masterstrokes they came up with (and sorry Luke your favourite band, very good though it is never had the genetic art-school greatness to match it). Such as we enjoy Dog Man star, Giant steps and many other great albums. We never bought Kula Shaker back then, so we don't need to express any disgust now. If you guys feel bad about the flag-waving and all, I can understand it. But that's your buissiness, we just enjoy the music. So relax guys , nobody stopped hearing to These New Puritans because Dodgy reunited. Relax and be proud of the music, Britpop's b-sides are better that most American albums of the early 90s, the rest of the world knows it , you can embrace it too without the flag -waving if you like. I wonder if Luke is ever going to write a piece about how lame Screaming Trees and Pearl Jam are? No?

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Apr 10, 2014 11:13pm

Am I still allowed to keep listening to Teardrop Explodes and Cardiacs if I got into them because of Modern Life is Rubbish? I mean only if it's ok with you and Brett , Luke

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Apr 10, 2014 11:45pm

In reply to :

agree with this 100%. As an American I'm able to listen to Blur without any of that bizarre British cultural baggage and hear what they really are - an interesting, talented pop band. The rest of what Luke's writing about is just noise.

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Britpunter
Apr 11, 2014 2:25am

In reply to Yorin Best:

Are you suggesting that we all should just "Be Here Now?"

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Jeff
Apr 11, 2014 5:22am

There's a reason why this is called Black Sky Thinking.

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Pete
Apr 11, 2014 10:00am

NME had been dire for several yrs and then we got BritPap which was the end. The C86 thing was hyped but much better.

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Apr 11, 2014 10:11am

Best Lamarr bit on Shooting Stars: http://youtu.be/2tTEPMQ1vNY?t=1m42s#aid=P-32dfRFDZM

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taby burd
Apr 11, 2014 10:40am

Hey, there is 'canonisation of Britpop' going on? This article is flawed from the off by stating a premise that the media has not made. Britpop was a term invented by some journalist (Jon Robb and Stuart Maconie are fighting it out in the car park now) a lot of the bands were rubbish, some were quite good, a few were excellent. None of them made the claim to be Britpop.... go and pick on someone else

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geofflee
Apr 11, 2014 10:46am

There were two types of Britpop fans, those would buy a Kula Shaker single for 99 pee, and those who would NEVER buy a Kula Shaker single. If the writer wants to the face of UKIP I suggest he looks in the mirror ,

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Stewpot Macaroni
Apr 11, 2014 1:27pm

In reply to taby burd:

A lot of the music was actually good a lot of desperate 6music with its 25 listeners rubbish nostalgia fest which is pretty lame. Now when i think of Britpop I think of the man who was certainly the last person to use the term 'Britpop' - the plump Stuart Maconi with his Paisley shirt tucked into his dad pants and it's not a pretty sight!

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Overthe
Apr 11, 2014 1:33pm

First of all excuse my English ( I am not British)

Second. Once and for all Luke, the reason people expect so badly a Blur record more than any new Suede ( Bloodsports was ok though) or even Radiohead records is not that you have not written enough articles about what a tortured soul Brett is and how wrong was Albarn to exploit the working classes. We really really don't care about these things. The reason is simply that Blur are the most talented band since 1990 and the best since Talking Heads to popularise the best aspects of the underground. It's that simple.

Now, this article is really insulting to my intelligence. Every other non- English person that I know who read it thinks it is about British subconscious not music. It builds a a narrative so ''easy'' and ''convenient'' that ends up being narrower than the aesthetics is supposed to fight. Is the world that Luke describes a real one? Did people stop listening to quality music because of Kula Shaker and Cast? Did someone prevent '' when I was born for the seventh time'' to be a critical success all over Europe or Giants Steps being considered one of the best 90s albums? Where are these people that never listened to anything else after britpop? Do they exist? I think that no, this is a world that Luke built so that he can state how amazing and forward thinking is to go from Kula Shaker to post-apocalyptic jazz or something. But we never cared about Kula Shaker. For us, britpop is the kind of artful thoughtful melodic music that made us proud of liking.The Who, Roxy Music, new wave, The Smiths, Blur , this amazing lineage. If you feel bad about covering this lineage with a flag, then don't , this is not our problem. And let's not forget all the bands that ''were never britpop'' but that didn't make them less conservative. Weren't the Manics always heading for the stadiums? Isn't the Bends the most conservative (great but conservative) British record of the 90s? You are making the best music in the world and that's what counts for the rest of the world. I started reading Maconie's articles about british pop and that didn't make me love Cast , that made love Maconie and listening to all the forward thinking music he champions.

The rest of the world got into XTC and new wave because of Parklife Luke. If you or other British got into Chris Evans or Kula Shaker , I sympathise but that's not either the rest of the world's or Parklife's problem.

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Emerson Dameron
Apr 11, 2014 2:57pm

As an American who burned the laser through Dog Man Star but never really understood the full context of Britpop, I'm glad I read this. Thanks for the information and provocation.

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Ben P Scott
Apr 11, 2014 4:23pm

This article displays a lot of ignorance and reeks of trying to be cool and controversial.

The end of Britpop also signalled the end of popular music as we knew it. It was the last time the public could possibly be united by music, and a time when pop music showed intelligence, wit and substance. For many of my generation, Britpop becoming mainstream gave us a sense of pride in our music and taught us about standards. Before that, some of us didn't see anything wrong with dull manufactured pop because we knew no different. Britpop came and changed all that. And thanks to that happening, I was led onto the path where I found Primal Scream, Super Furry Animals, Mansun and all the less mainstream indie. If that didn't happen, I wouldn't have been led on to the diverse wealth of eclectic sounds that have enhanced my life ever since.

Why shouldn't that be celebrated? We'd be stupid not to!

We're not raising a glass to the mid 90s to try and make ourselves feel superior to today's generation of music fans. We don't need to! Nor are we trying to convince everyone that the best music is all in the past. I know better than a lot of people how much fantastic music is being released in the present day... Too much to even keep up with. But in terms of popular music and the modern version of the "mainstream", there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that we got the better deal in the 90s, totally undeniable in every way possible. Do you want us to lie and pretend that the useless, talentless nobodies who kids and "average" people are exposed to now are somehow anywhere near as good as geniuses like Suede, Blur and Mansun?

Britpop was the greatest time we ever experienced. If you don't like that, tough.

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john heavens
Apr 11, 2014 4:45pm

Britpop was the pinacle of human achievement.

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bungle
Apr 11, 2014 4:52pm

Same as it ever was. Anyone remember the 20th anniversary of punk in 1996?

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Cian
Apr 11, 2014 5:09pm

Most people are nostalgic for the first music movement that was 'theirs'. Britpop wasn't one of the better ones - better than land-fill indie, but no acid-house, C86, dubstep, whatever.

Britpop came along at the right time for me to realize how conservative indie music was. Up until then I'd kind of bought into the whole 'indie' better ideology. The records I remember from that era is more stuff like Warp records, Tricky, Portishead, the rebirth of avant-garde rock (Earth, Japanese psychadelia, post-rock).

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Apr 11, 2014 6:41pm

weellll, nostalgia is whatever you used to be into . Slagging off Britpop fair enough.Plenty of same era bands to move things forward to those with hopes of something just better . BUT THEN Bigging up The Professionals elsewhere . That show led nowhere but to bitter racist sexist violent ideology . What next - a re-evaluation of Mind Your Language and Jim Davidson ?

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Jon
Apr 12, 2014 1:23am

seems odd, given Luke Turner went frothy mouthed over Suede's return last year. I did too, the album was great, and their early 90s output is too. I love practically all of Oasis', Blur's, and The Verve's albums. I love Pulp's mid 90s stuff. I don't need a 20 yr reunion to realize that or to listen to that stuff but I also won't get upset about it either. Musically, to me, it's great stuff and it's sometimes hard to recall music 10-20+ yrs ago today with so much new material coming out all the time and genre's fracturing seemingly daily. I am American, so I didn't experience the socio-political aspect, so if there's beef with recalling that, so be it, but if this gets people who have forgotten about The Great Escape, for instance, to give it a spin and remember it's got some great songs on it, then kudos to that. Not everything deserves offense all the time.

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Apr 12, 2014 10:28am

In reply to Jon:

Exactly. The Great Escape is the best example of how ''britpop'' could also harm some of the best work of the era. For me The Great Escape is one of the best albums of the 90s and for a lot of people outside UK that is the case too. It is weird how such a deliberately art-school record that reached an almost clinical state (compositionalstyle-wise) ended up being disowned by their creators (they are to blame too of course with the no 1 contests and all that). I once asked a British friend of mine how it's possible for British people to acknowledge that Blur are their best band and still sometimes refuse to love them with their heart. His answer was ''they are being too clever sometimes'' and I still try to understand why is that a bad thing. The Great Escape was Albarn trying to emphatically showcase that he can write any kind of melody he wants and he can write any kind of lyrics he wants. It sounded too smart and made fun of British people, I get it and I respect the British working class's feelings. By why should we care that much about that stuff, the guy made mainstream music sound intelligent again and that what matters for a whole European generation. There are a lot of people who are able to miss the best aspects of 90s without being trapped there. That is the point that the author doesn't get and tries to create a progressive piece so obviously aching for credibility. A lot of people outside UK listen to BBC6 on line today and that is not despite but because of Britpop.

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Luke Turner
Apr 12, 2014 1:56pm

In reply to :

"BUT THEN Bigging up The Professionals elsewhere . That show led nowhere but to bitter racist sexist violent ideology" . er yes, that's what Taylor's article was saying. Did you read it?

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Richard
Apr 14, 2014 5:26am

Hmm, I own the first two Oasis albums, a Gene cd single, an Elastica cd single, someone gave me a promo copy of Different Class, oh and I own the Pet Shop Boys remix of Boys and Girls...Britpop...meh.

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Alex Blake
Apr 14, 2014 2:51pm

I thought this was a very well written and nuanced article. I agree with the writers views on nostalgia and how patronizing this can be. Great read!

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Lesley Williams
Apr 14, 2014 3:13pm

Yeah, you keep quoting Pulp and telling us all about your Elastica gig. But let's not reminisce eh?

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Marcus
Apr 14, 2014 3:19pm

Being an Anglophile is ok, as long as you're not English.

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Hardy
Apr 14, 2014 7:17pm

To me, the problem with the current glut of rose-tinted memories is that most of the main players from the 1990s are still going strong in one form or another - Pulp/Jarvis, Gallagher N/Beady Eye, Blur/Albarn/Coxon, Suede/Anderson etc - so there hasn't really been the opportunity to process our memories of their music. They're still around annoying, delighting or disappointing us in much the same way that they did 20 years ago - a few more lines and their hair a suspiciously-dark shade, but not much has changed.
It's a bit like seeing an ex, week-in, week-out, after you've split up - you don't have the opportunity to miss all the good stuff and forget all the bad stuff.
It also occurs to me that ultimately the internet makes a mockery of such bogus anniversaries: you don't need 6Music to transport you back to 1995 or try to give it context, there's a blog or a Youtube video just a click away that will do that for you, and and has been doing that for the best part of 2004.
Of course, it's nice to watch BBC4 doing its Britpop at the BBC compilation - purely because there were some great songs, more than anything - but Echobelly, Menswear, Sleeper? A case of: you've had the best, now hear the rest!

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Rocko
May 7, 2014 9:38am

Oh noes! Things I liked as a teen have now entered the nostalgia circuit. Big deal, nostalgia is always gonna exist, get over it. Just because it makes you feel old doesn't make it bad.

who cares if Britpop sounded "conservative", some of the best records came out of this period. I'd rather listen to a 20 year old Suede album than whatever passes for progressive musical tastes these days.

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bob
May 11, 2014 5:12pm

The article is about nostalgia,& the English sure have a stranglehold on that - another BBC 1940's drama anyone?
But we often fail to grasp the larger issues of an era, & think the writer misses a key point here. Sure Blur were smug & Oasis predictable, but the real issue around those bands success was that it was pre internet. That is, the NME or music shows (MTV Britian!)had large captive audiences, the market offered limited lines of access & this idea of a mid 90's generationally united audience tends to mask an alternate reality, which was a substantially united youth market. Now it's different story, kids can easily search out ideas beyond those offered up in mainstream, be it from past or present, so it's quite hard to recall just how dry the music media space was back then.

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Marcus
Mar 21, 2015 6:56am

What a lot of crap. I hate the modern pretentious manufactured world it is more pretentious than ever and oh,so manufactured. People think today and the future is it, it ain't folks and the idiot who wrote the article is just a I am so with it moron. (You ain't mate!) Music industry today is full of crap more than ever. All these morons who write to say they are with it now fucking jerks! Pointless article!

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ben
Nov 9, 2015 5:10pm

How about celebrating the 20th birthday of the likes of Maxinquaye or Snivilization? There was some incredible music in the era but most of it wasn't being made by the dickheads in britpop.

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Nov 9, 2015 5:18pm

In reply to ben:

Although, 'Bwyd Time' by Gorky's is a corker.

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