Look everyone…it’s another Guardian article on Britpop!
This time its the TEN BEST songs of the entire era that forms the focus of this piece of “journalism”. Our guide through the Britpop era is going to be Caroline Sullivan who, to be fair to her, appears to be better dressed than Wooly Willy from the “cultural abomination” article I covered a few days ago. That fills me with some hope…let’s see if that hope is ill founded.
This piece had been written to coincide with the twentieth anniversay of “Be Here Now”…an album that, Caroline informs us, marked the moment that “…Oasis’s creative well ran dry, it turned out to be Britpop’s endgame, sweeping the whole genre into the dustbin” I’m already beginning to regret putting any faith in Caroline. First of all “Be Here Now” isn’t evidence of the creative well of Oasis having run dry, it’s an album that is full of great songs but, admittedly, is also an album that serves as a warning of the dangers of cocaine. “D’You Know What I Mean?” is a bombastic, blaring, blast of rock ‘n’ roll swagger, “Stand by Me” is a thing of joy and “All Around the World” is a mad, delerious, deranged, burst of melody making that seems to be the one song that threatens never to end that you wish would keep that promise.
As for sweeping Britpop into the dustbin, well Britpop wasn’t swept anywhere. Like all youth movements it simply found itself out of fashion but, and this is crucial, like all truly momentous moments in pop and pop culture it has left a lasting legacy and continues to thrill new audiences. So there.
Caroline’s first choice is The Auteurs “Starstruck”.
Despite the fact that Caroline herself acknowledges the fact that The Auteurs were not Britpop and that Luke Haines himself has violently refused any and all associations with the label from the very moment it was first coined she has placed them as her first example of the “best of Britpop”. Edgy stuff Caroline.
Now, listen, I get it…lots of bands who are part of the Britpop era like to try and avoid any association with it, for a variety of reasons, but in the case of The Auteurs they really were something very seperate. Haines, like Patrick Duff, is not a man you can simply throw a label at…he is, I think, a bona fide eccentric and a unique presence in pop music. I’m not a huge fan, or a fan at all particularly, of any of his work but I respect him as an individual and for his commitment to his craft. He’s not Britpop.
Not a great start then but let’s move on to choice number two.
“You’re in a bad Way” by Saint Etienne is a very nice choice but, again, there has to be some debate about the Britpop tag…I’m fairly sure they would reject it. I’m going to go with this though because I love Saint Etienne. Taken from their second album “So Tough” it starts with an excerpt from “Billy Liar” with Billy (Tom Courtenay) proclaiming that man could “…lose himself, lose himself IN LONDON”. Then a delightful, delicate and delicious slice of sixties infused pop music takes over and you feel like nothing bad could possibly happen in a world where something this perfect exists. It’s fab.
Suede are next on Caroline’s list with “Animal Nitrate” and, again, I’m going to give a thumbs up to this choice. It wouldn’t be the Suede song I would choose but it’s sordid glamour, filthy guitars and sense of absolute danger makes it a great example of how much more there was to Britpop than just the “Parklife” or “Country House” style novelty records…
Caroline has chosen “Parklife” as her next selection.
Should I tell her or will you?
Fine, I’ll do it.
Caroline, this is Max. I don’t know how to break this to you but, well, the thing is…”Parklife” is, and please don’t get upset, rubbish. It sits alongside “Wake Up Boo!” and “Country House” as the low points of the entire scene. So…yeah, there you have it. You’ve chosen the wrong song…not just the wrong song by blur.
Why didn’t you choose “For Tomorrow” or “Popscene” or “Girls and Boys” or “To The End” or, oh, just anything else…apart from “Country House”.
Let’s move on. At least she didn’t pick “Wake up Boo!”.
Redeem yourself Caroline.
We are all rooting for you.
“Supersonic” by Oasis.
There is one slight problem though…here is what Caroline has to say about this selection; “When a band launch their career with their best song, the only way should be down, and thus it proved, eventually.” What is it with Guardian journalists and Britpop? Why do they all have to feature a picture of Noel Gallagher with a Union Jack guitar and why do they all have to be written by people who clearly look down their noses at the whole thing? Gah.
“Supersonic” isn’t the best song Oasis wrote and released.
It’s not even the best song on “Definitely Maybe” for goodness sake.
This notion that Oasis were on some sort of downward trajectory from the get go is just rubbish. Oasis hit peak after peak in terms of their creativity for several albums and both Gallaghers have gone on to continue to write and record great songs in the years since the bands demise.
“…they only way should be down and so it proved…”
“Wake Up Boo!”
Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.
I mean really.
To make matters worse here are Caroline’s thoughts on the how and the why the Boo’s made the leap from near shoegazing nobodies to pop stars…
“…they were adopted by Britpop overlord Chris Evans, and lauded as the next shiny thing.”
Chris Evans was the overlord of Britpop.
I just don’t understand the world that these “journalists” live in. Chris Evans was the host of a magazine style Friday night show that would have featured whatever music was popular at the time…he loved Britpop bands and so he played them but the very idea that he was the overlord of Britpop is, frankly, nonsense.
“Wake Up Boo!” and Chris Evans in a list of the best songs to come out of Britpop.
Can I just be the final word on this?
On behalf of everyone who lived, loved and lives and loves Britpop…this song is the turd in the punch bowl. It is part of the unholy Trinity of Britpop along with “Parklife” and “Country House”. An awful song.
And Chris Evans isn’t even the overlord of his own trousers.
From now on there will be no more mention of “Wake Up Boo!”.
I have spoken.
I have a golden rule when it comes to making playlists or, in the olden days, mix-tapes…that rule is NEVER put more than one song by ANY band on the list. Ever. Under any circumstances. The moment you break this golden rule you run the risk of favouring one band over the others…and that is not acceptable on a list that is meant to show who you are, how you are and where you are in the form of music.
Caroline does not believe in this rule and has decided to put two Pulp songs on her list…one after the other.
Imagine getting a mix-tape from Caroline.
Three Oldplay tracks, “Parklife”, a couple of Radiohead songs and then two Pulp songs…just awful. That’s not a mix-tape, it’s a list curated by someone who is lazy and is simply throwing songs they like at you and that, as you all understand, is NOT THE BLOODY POINT OF A LIST LIKE THIS ONE!!!
Basically what has happened here is that Caroline has run out of Britpop bands to write about, she’s got tickets for an immersive theatre show that starts in half an hour so there is no time to Google the tracklisting for Shine 47 to get the names of another couple of bands who might have been Britpop and so she’s just chucked in two Pulp songs she remembers hearing.
“Common People” and “Something’s Changed” are very fine songs and Pulp are a profoundly magnificent band but to reduce the fabulousness of Britpop to a list that features two songs by one band is just not on.
I’m very cross about this.
Now Caroline has returned from the theatre, she has had a good nights sleep and, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, she brings us something genuinely thrilling for her penultimate selection…
“Line Up” by Elastica.
This song is everything you need to know about Britpop wrapped up 195 seconds of punky, post-punk, pop splendour…it’s got attitude, vim, vigour, Camden groupies and fuzzy, scuzzy, guitar licks.
Things come to a conclusion with another contentious choice with “Wide Open Space” by Mansun. I think, like Luke Haines, that Paul Draper would reject the label of Britpop and, also like Haines, it wouldn’t be because he was just trying to appear too cool for school…Mansun were the other side of Britpop, more experimental, conceptual and theatrical than most. However, there is no doubt that any Britpop article worth its salt would make mention of “Attack of the Grey Lantern” and, specifically, of “Wide Open Space”.
Pieces like this are not meant to be an in depth analysis of anything, it’s click-bait journalism designed to drive a specific audience to the site…it’s also designed to provoke exactly the reaction that I’ve given it. Well done Caroline!