Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

9. PulpDifferent Class

When I was 12 or 13, Blur v Oasis was the big thing. That was all anyone was talking about, music-wise. And at this point, I’m still just into Queen. And it was quite hard to turn Blur v Oasis into Blur v Oasis v Queen. I honestly appreciate how good both Blur and Oasis are at writing great pop and rock songs. However, neither them captured me. Even now, with Blur, I really appreciate the musicianship but – Elis will kill me for saying this – there is just something inauthentic about it and slightly arch. And with Oasis, I don’t necessarily mean this to be disparaging at all, but it’s sort of music for crowds. As much as I appreciate their songs, and what an important experience it must be to see them, it must be said that the idea of being in a crowd of 50,000 people with a pint of piss being thrown at you, that’s genuinely my worst nightmare. There are people for whom that’s their dream, seeing them in a massive stadium. But I get a panic attack just thinking about it.

And I discovered Pulp around the time that Different Class came out, or had been out for a little while. And suddenly, in this big debate between two bands I didn’t really care about, there was suddenly another option. If Oasis was music for crowds, then I think Pulp was music for corners. And I fell in love. The first live gig I ever went to was Pulp in Birmingham NEC in 1996, a T-shirt I still own and wear. And obviously to say Blur are too arch and then pick Pulp is quite rich: Pulp are super-arch. But they have a sincerity, and they explored a different type of teenage experience which spoke to me at the time about feeling slightly awkward. ‘Mis-Shapes’ was the first single I ever bought the wasn’t by Queen. And they also spoke about the world of sexual awkwardness which I’d yet to experience, but Pulp were a really fantastic way of navigating that maze as a later teenager. There wasn’t much sex in Blur or Oasis. It was all money and drugs and booze and rock & roll.

Selected in other Baker’s Dozens: Neil Hannon
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