All the recent nostalgia about 1997, with the anniversary of Labour’s election win, the death of Di, and the devolution referendum, reminded me that Brit-pop kind of died off at the same time. I had written a blog last year, which I posted on my Yahoo page about Britpop, which was my thoughts on a programme celebrating 10 years since the height of Britpop (it was originally shown in August 2005, but I was commenting on the repeat in July 2006). Somehow I had forgotten to re-publish it when I set up this site…
“I was indulging in some channel surfing last Thursday, and came across a repeat of a programme called "The Story of Britpop", which was first shown on the 10th anniversary of the Blur "Country House"/Oasis "Roll With It" thing. It annoyed me.
It annoyed me, in that i disagreed with some of the opinions expressed, but it annoyed me also because it was, in some respects, a rewriting of history.
The view of the presenter, John Harris, was that these were new bands, doing what Brittish bands should be doing, writing about the urban experience in a way that harks back to the 1960's. I thought it was repeating the 60's and 70's, but with a modern twist. We had The Kinks, played by Blur, the Beatles played by Oasis, the stones played by Primal Scream. Glam was represented by both Suede & Pulp.
Pulp were my favourites, they wrote about things in a gritty, realistic kind of a way. Crucially their records also sounded interesting & inventive as well, which is where Britpop fell down for me. Not too many of the bands were that inventive with how they sounded, happy to borrow riffs from the Beatles, Stones and.. er ... Wire. This is why Britpop does not stand up alongside the youthquakes from 1963 (Beatlemania, summer of love), 1976 (Punk, new-wave and New Romanticissm)& 1988 (Acid house followed by Mad-chester), for while the other youthquake movements grew for 2- 3 years afterwards, Britpop alarmingly quickly desended into Dad-rock. For me, the best album of this period, and of the decade, was Dummy by Portishead, re-doing the past by puting a slow, hip hop spin on old school cinematic scores, and BOY can Beth Gibbons sing...
The other thing that got on my wick was the link between the rise of Britpop and New Labour. My theory here is that Britpop died on the 2nd of May 1997 rather that at the Downing Street reception quoted in the programme. I say that because for whatever reason, the main bands in this scene who released records after New Labour got in, released duff records, or records that just stiffed. Be Here Now, This is Hardcore, and the Sleeper one (Pleased to Meet You????) were all thought to be not as good as Morning Glory, Different Class and The It Girl. The first victims of the curse of Blair.
Britpop was dead, long live Bigbeat!
As for the legacy. The fact that most Brittish "indie" bands all sound the same. Nevermind, you know what they say about necessity being the mother of invention. ”
I think what I was trying to say was that Britpop was such a mixed bag, lots of bits were good, but there were some not so good bits to it. At least it killed off the New Wave of New Wave movement.
See you later