This summer somewhere in a field in Hampshire, music fans will party like it’s
1995, as both Pulp and Suede reform for the festival season. Furthermore, in
September the Bluetones are to embark on a farewell tour, combined with recent
Take That reunion these gigs suggests that whatever their musical taste the British public are keen on a bit of nineties nostalgia.
Despite this, however, the current view espoused in the media and by
many contemporary bands is that Britpop was in fact shit, as was the nineties
as a whole. The cultural movement was hijacked by New Labour for their own ends and Oasis only had two decent records anyway.
Nevertheless, as someone who was an impressionable child spending their
formative years surrounded by the music and the iconography of Cool Britannia,
I have always had a longing for a return to the 90’s, when I think back to my
childhood – admittedly through rose tinted glasses – it’s all Union Jacks, Blur
vs Oasis, long hot summers and John Spencer volleys and there’s nothing shit
Whilst much of the imagery that surrounded Britpop and a lot of it’s
music might have been rehashed from Mod and the mod revival movement of the late 70s, (indeed, Paul Weller was heavily involved in both that and Britpop) it was the first introduction to the subculture for those of us born in the mid to late 80’s. As a wide eyed kid seeing Noel Gallagher playing a Union Jack guitar whilst Liam poses in a parka is cool as fuck, you don’t see it as trying to emulate the Beatles or The Jam. It was also the last time there was any semblance of youth culture in Britain, before the internet and PlayStations ensured that the nation’s youth were never bored enough again to kick start their own cultural phenomenon.
Aside from the clothes and the iconography, there were some great
records released at the time, Definitely Maybe, Different Class and Parklife
are up there with the greatest British albums ever. Suede reinvented and
subverted glam-rock with The Drowners, whilst Weller returned to form,
releasing some of his best solo material.
The Bluetones, Ocean Colour Scene and Supergrass also all released
great singles. Furthermore, Liam, Damon and Jarvis were proper front men,
bonafide rock and roll stars the type of which – Doherty aside – have not been
It might be hard to ignore that party at 10 Downing Street. Yes Blair
used Oasis et al to gain credibility, yes it was a piece of New Labour spin,
however people forget the wave of optimism that had swept the country with
Blair’s election, an end to 18 years of Tory rule at the height of ‘Cool Britannia’,
Oasis and Britpop movement as a whole were not the only people to fall foul of being swept up in it.
I for one cannot wait for this summer, especially if the gigs are anything like Blur in Hyde Park two years ago, viva the Britpop revival.
By Callum West