Pitchfork Britpop 50 – Number 1


Different Class, 1995 – Pulp

It’s not the best Pulp album.

That honour, of course, goes to “His ‘n’ Hers”.

But this was, much like “(What’s the Story”) Morning Glory?” or “Parklife” the album that put Pulp at the heart of the popular culture.

Peak Britpop.

From the fringes to the fringes of the mainstream to the mainstream to being the mainstream.

If this had been released in 1992 it would have sold 13 copies…with five of them being from people who were linked to the band by blood.  This was an album that needed Britpop and that, at the same time, defined Britpop.

It is a pop record with songs of love, lust and loopy nonsense.

That’s the surface.

Sing along anthems like “Common People” and “Disco 2000”.

Tabloid “scandals” with “Sorted for E’s and Wizz”.

Love songs like “Something Changed”.

Except the anthems are not really anthems…they are hymns to the less ordinary, Ken Loach musicals, dark tales from a world people wailing along in their cars couldn’t and didn’t know existed.

Except the tabloid scandal was an artificial outrage…the song is, in truth, a cautionary tale.

Except the love songs are…darker than your deepest secrets.

“I lost my friends, I dance alone.”

“Where would I be now if we hadn’t met, would I be singing this song to someone else instead”

“‘Cause when you’re laid in bed at night watching roaches climb the wall”

“I never knew that you’d get married, I would be living down here on my own”

We haven’t even thought about “I Spy” or “Underwear” or “Live Bed Show” yet.

These were not the sorts of songs that you’re mum and dad would have been listening to just a few years earlier…certainly not on Radio 2…and yet here we were.

The very idea that someone like Jarvis Cocker would become a national treasure, a cultural icon, a style guru…let’s be honest, a legend…would have been a ridiculous notion to anyone (other than possibly Jarvis) prior to Britpop becoming a “thing”.

But that is what Jarvis became when “Different Class” landed.

He went from indie bloke to pop star in one moment.

One near twenty year moment.

I don’t think “Different Class” would be the number one album in my own Britpop top fifty albums but it is such an astonishing and astonishingly brilliant album that I can’t quibble with it being awarded exactly that accolade by someone else.

A worthy winner.




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