It’s twenty years since the era of ‘Britpop.’ This of course has led to nostalgic reminisces mainly from BBC six music about the period and what it meant for Indie music.
Of course for some people it’s the soundtrack of their youth and certain tracks or bands will bring back fond memories. However it could be argued that it was a scene created by journalists and marketing officials of record companies. Added to which was the rise of ‘laddism,’ with the launch of men’s magazines such as Loaded.
For some reason this was tied in with the music of the time as well as providing a soundtrack to the Mockney, cartoon, gangster, Guy Ritchie films such as ‘Lock, stock, and two smoking barrels.’ In many ways Britpop was about nostalgia itself as it yearned back to the late 1960’s and tried to portray itself as a modern Austin Power era.
In many ways one of the fashionable drinks at the time alcopops perfectly summed up the period. A soft drink pretending that it was hard and not quite as nice to drink despite the attractive advertisement.
As with many periods there is quite a lot of dross that populated the charts but there are always bands that still stand the test of the time. The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, The Smiths, Sex Pistols, to name but a few are examples of bands from the sixties to the eighties that stood out.
Despite being one of the biggest bands during the 90’s Oasis sound more dated than the influences that they blatantly imitated. Listening to some of Oasis’s track such as ‘champagne supernova,’ sounds like a self-indulgent, long-winded track.
‘Rock n roll star,’ sounds very tired and dare I say it boring. ‘Peel away the sticker over ‘shakermaker,’ and you’ll find the song ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing,’ whilst ‘Cigarettes and alcohol,’ is a blatant rip off of T-Rex ‘get it on.’
At the time when Definitely Maybe was released I never really got the appeal. It was just an average Indie rock album with nothing that particularly stood out. Listening to it now and the follow-up album ‘What’s the story?’ it sounds very tired and old hat. Ironically the few tracks that I don’t mind mainly appear on the Masterplan B side’s album with ‘talk tonight,’ and ‘half the world away.’
If I’m being cruel I’d say Oasis is today’s ‘Dad’s rock album.’ You can see Dad packing the kids into the car for a day trip as he excitedly throws on his best of Oasis album. The kids start to grimace as Dad shouts over the nasal whine of Liam, ‘that this is real music and not the rubbish of today.’ By the time Dad starts to bellow out the busker’s and karaoke favourite ‘Wonderwall,’ they will be on the phone to the NSPCC citing torture.
Blur to me were more musically talented and a lot of their tracks still stand out. ‘For tomorrow,’ ‘Tracy Jacks,’ ‘End of a Century,’ and ‘to the end,’ are still fantastic songs. ‘Modern life is rubbish,’ ‘Parklife,’ albums may have some tracks that are slightly dated or naff (more of which I’ll come to later) but the majority are still strong.
The album ‘blur,’ shows the new direction that they took with a new lo-fi feel to it. If anything it was probably Blur’s best album.
This though doesn’t excuse the truly awful songs that epitomised Brit Pop. Even now I feel the rage slowly building up when I hear the opening of ‘Country House,’ ‘Parklife,’ and ‘Girls & Boys.’ Blur will never be forgiven by me for producing such dirge.
Pulp were another band that produced some good tracks. ‘Common People,’ ‘mis-shapes,’ ‘sorted for E’s and whizz,’ are songs that still sound okay on the radio.
Supergrass are a band who matured well once you get past ‘alright,’ but then thinking about it they were responsible for pumping on your stereo, Grace, and caught by the fuzz. However ‘In it for the money,’ is a good album whilst the ‘road to Rouen,’ which came much later in the noughties stands out as a first class album.
Equally the Super Furry Animals still stand out with each album showing their strengths as artists. ‘Guerrilla,’ and ‘Mwng,’ are two outstanding albums with tracks such as Demons from Radiator and ‘If you don’t want me to destroy you,’ from Fuzzy Logic showed their talent for song writing.
However most of Brit Pop was pretty rubbish. ‘Ocean Colour Scene,’ ‘Cast,’ and Dodgy produced some bland imitation of rock whilst ripping off much better artists from the sixties.
The Boo Radley’s and Menswear were just so appalling that they should have been banned. Personally I still feel that awful nausea that you get after with a hangover when I hear the naff, chirpy strains of ‘Wake up Boo.’
Kula Shaker was another dreadful band although embarrassingly I bought their album ‘K,’ which I felt, was fantastic at the time. It’s only trying to listen to it now that I realise how pretentious and bad the album was.
Although Elastica had plenty of attitude, their songs were just too influenced by punk and in particular the Stranglers. ‘Waking up,’ is such a blatant rip off of ‘no more heroes,’ that it was hardly a surprise that the Stranglers took them to Court. Consequently even at the time I’d rather listen to the original source who were better.
Admittedly there are some songs from that era that I don’t really mind. Sleepers ‘Inbetweener,’ Garbage ‘Only happy when it rains,’ are well crafted songs with the Divine Comedy’s ‘something for the weekend,’ are also pretty decent.
I also like Mansun’s ‘taxloss,’ but this may have something to do with the video where the band threw £25,000 worth of fivers across Liverpool Street station. All you see is people swooping in like a tourist throwing bread for the pigeons. Furthermore I quite like the sentiment behind it.
Nevertheless music is judged by how good it is and also whether it can stand the test of time. Most of Britpop doesn’t hold up to it and that was even during the nineties.
Quite simply the music wasn’t that great with only Blur, Supergrass, and the Super Furry Animals evolving and showing the talent that they had.
Maybe it was fun for those that were involved but I always thought Britpop was false and all about image. It was just too ‘Mockney,’ for me, where it was okay to be a prick if you followed that laddism culture. For some strange reason it also wallowed in nostalgia itself as it harked back to an Austin Powers Britain that never was. Perhaps that’s why I’m not wallowing in this reminiscing of Britpop despite growing up in it.
The race for the title
I have to admit like many other Liverpool supporters I never thought we would be challenging for the title at the start of the season. In fact I was just looking at trying to get into the top four and hopefully win one of the domestic cups.
Despite what some journalists say it is not a given that Liverpool will win it. Equally I am also aware as are countless others, that Chelsea are still very much in it as are Man City. Reporters such as Amy Lawrence (someone who I normally respect) shrieking the obvious about Chelsea still having a chance. Are they hoping if Chelsea win the league they will be seen as an Oracle? Either way, it’s a ‘no shit Sherlock,’ statement to make.
This season though has been like a dream and its credit to Brendan Rodgers coaching skills and the players that we have come so far. In fact we have been ‘poetry motion!’ The atmosphere at the match has been fantastic with people getting in early and indeed it is a bit like old times.
Naturally there is a sense of tension as the season draws to an end. Indeed I thought the fella next to me was having a heart attack after we went two up against Man City. The excitement is there for each game but nobody as far as I am aware is taking it as a given that Liverpool will win the league.
In fact as I write this I can already feel the nerves prior to Sunday’s game against Norwich. It’s a mixture of excitement, anticipation, and worry about getting a result. In short it’s about trying not to get too carried away as any disappointment always hurts more. At the same time though you want to enjoy it and let’s face it, it will have been a fantastic season as the football has been a joy to watch this season. However if we can get through the nerves and show our full support for the Reds, who knows we could be Champions for the nineteenth time!