Britpop is a UK based music and culture movement in the mid 1990s
which emphasised "Britishness", and produced brighter, catchier
alternative rock, partly in reaction to the popularity of the darker
lyrical themes of the US-led grunge music, an alternative rock genre,
and to the UK's own shoegazing music scene. The most
successful bands linked with the movement are Oasis, Blur, Suede and
Pulp; those groups would come to be known as its "big four". The
Britpop is generally considered to be 1993-1997, with
1994-1995, and a chart battle between Blur and Oasis dubbed "The
Battle of Britpop", being the epicentre of activity. While music
was the main focus, fashion, art, and politics also got involved, with
artists such as
Damien Hirst being involved in creating videos for
Blur, and being labelled as
Britpop artists, and Tony
New Labour aligning themselves with the movement.
Britpop is viewed as a marketing tool, and more of a cultural
moment than a musical style or genre, there are musical
conventions and influences the bands grouped under the
have in common, such as showing elements from the
British pop music
British pop music of
the Sixties, glam rock and punk rock of the Seventies, and indie pop
of the Eighties in their music.
Britpop was a media driven focus on
bands which emerged from the independent music scene of the early
1990s—and was associated with the British popular cultural movement
Cool Britannia which evoked the
Swinging Sixties and the British
guitar pop music of that decade.
In the wake of the musical invasion into the
United Kingdom by
American grunge bands, new British groups such as Blur and Suede
launched the movement by positioning themselves as opposing musical
forces, referencing British guitar music of the past and writing about
uniquely British topics and concerns. These bands were soon joined by
others including Oasis, Pulp, the Verve, Supergrass, Cast, Space,
Sleeper and Elastica.
Britpop groups brought British alternative rock into the mainstream
and formed the backbone of a larger British cultural movement called
Cool Britannia. "The Battle of Britpop" brought
Britpop to the
forefront of the British press in 1995. By 1997, however, the movement
began to slow down; many acts began to falter and break up. The
popularity of the pop group the
Spice Girls "snatched the spirit of
the age from those responsible for Britpop". Although its more
popular bands were able to spread their commercial success overseas,
especially to the United States, the movement largely fell apart by
the end of the decade.
1 Style, roots and influences
2 Origins and first years
3 "The Battle of Britpop"
7 Bands associated with Britpop
Style, roots and influences
A reaction to the popularity of Nirvana and grunge music was a
starting point for Britpop
Britpop is seen retrospectively as a marketing tool, and more
of a cultural moment than a musical style or genre, there
are musical conventions and influences the bands grouped under the
Britpop term have in common.
Britpop bands show elements from the
British pop music
British pop music of the Sixties, glam rock and punk rock of the
Seventies, and indie pop of the Eighties in their music, attitude, and
clothing. Specific influences vary: Blur and Oasis drew from the Kinks
and the Beatles, respectively, while
Elastica had a fondness for arty
punk rock. Regardless,
Britpop artists project a sense of reverence
for British pop sounds of the past.
Alternative rock acts from the
indie scene of the Eighties and early Nineties were the direct
ancestors of the
Britpop movement. The influence of the Smiths is
common to the majority of
Britpop artists. The
fronted by the Stone Roses,
Happy Mondays and
Inspiral Carpets (for
Noel Gallagher had worked as a roadie during the
Madchester years), was an immediate root of
Britpop since its emphasis
on good times and catchy songs provided an alternative to the
British-based shoegazing and American based grunge styles of
Local identity and regional British accents are common to Britpop
groups, as well as references to British places and culture in lyrics
and image. Stylistically,
Britpop bands use catchy hooks and
lyrics that were relevant to young British people of their own
Britpop bands conversely denounced grunge as
irrelevant and having nothing to say about their lives. Damon Albarn
of Blur summed up the attitude in 1993 when after being asked if Blur
were an "anti-grunge band" he said, "Well, that's good. If punk was
about getting rid of hippies, then I'm getting rid of grunge." In
spite of the professed disdain for the genres, some elements of both
crept into the more enduring facets of Britpop.
Noel Gallagher has
since championed Ride and stated in a 1996 interview that Nirvana's
Kurt Cobain was the only songwriter he had respect for in the last ten
years, and that he felt their music was similar enough that Cobain
could have written "Wonderwall".
The imagery associated with
Britpop was equally British and working
class. A rise in unabashed maleness, exemplified by Loaded magazine
and lad culture in general, would be very much part of the Britpop
Union Jack became a prominent symbol of the movement (as it
had a generation earlier with mod bands such as The Who) and its use
as a symbol of pride and nationalism contrasted deeply with the
controversy that erupted just a few years before when former Smiths
Morrissey performed draped in it. The emphasis on British
reference points made it difficult for the genre to achieve success in
Origins and first years
Select magazine's April 1993 issue emphasised "Great British pop"
Journalist John Harris has suggested that
Britpop began when Blur's
single "Popscene" and Suede's "The Drowners" were released around the
same time in the spring of 1992. He stated, "[I]f
anywhere, it was the deluge of acclaim that greeted Suede's first
records: all of them audacious, successful and very, very
British". Suede were the first of the new crop of
guitar-orientated bands to be embraced by the UK music media as
Britain's answer to Seattle's grunge sound. Their debut album Suede
became the fastest-selling debut album in the history of the UK.
In April 1993,
Select magazine featured Suede's lead singer Brett
Anderson on the cover with a Union Flag in the background and the
headline "Yanks go home!". The issue included features on Suede, The
Auteurs, Denim, Saint Etienne and Pulp and helped start the idea of an
Blur were involved in a vibrant social scene in London (dubbed "The
Scene That Celebrates Itself" by Melody Maker) that focused on a
weekly club called Syndrome in Oxford Street; the bands that met up
were a mix of music styles, some would be labelled shoegazing, while
others would go on to be part of Britpop. The dominant musical
force of the period was the grunge invasion from the United States,
which filled the void left in the indie scene by The Stone Roses'
inactivity. Blur, however, took on an Anglocentric aesthetic with
their second album
Modern Life Is Rubbish
Modern Life Is Rubbish (1993). Their new approach
was inspired by a tour of the United States in the spring of 1992.
During the tour, frontman
Damon Albarn began to resent American
culture and found the need to comment on that culture's influence
seeping into Britain. Justine Frischmann, formerly of Suede and
Elastica (and at the time in a relationship with Damon
Albarn) explained, "Damon and I felt like we were in the thick of it
at that point ... it occurred to us that Nirvana were out there, and
people were very interested in American music, and there should be
some sort of manifesto for the return of Britishness." John Harris
wrote in an
NME article just prior to the release of Modern Life is
Rubbish, "[Blur's] timing has been fortuitously perfect. Why? Because,
as with baggies and shoegazers, loud, long-haired Americans have just
found themselves condemned to the ignominious corner labeled
'yesterday's thing'". The music press also fixated on what the NME
had dubbed the New Wave of New Wave, a term applied to the more
punk-derivative acts such as Elastica,
S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men.
Modern Life Is Rubbish
Modern Life Is Rubbish was a moderate success, it was Blur's
Parklife that made them arguably the most popular band in
the UK in 1994.
Parklife continued the fiercely British nature of
its predecessor, and coupled with the death of Nirvana's Kurt Cobain
in April of that year it seemed that British alternative rock had
finally turned back the tide of grunge dominance. That same year Oasis
released their debut album Definitely Maybe, which broke Suede's
record for fastest-selling debut album.
The term "Britpop" arose when the media were drawing on the success of
British designers and films, the
Young British Artists
Young British Artists (sometimes
termed "Britart") such as Damien Hirst, and on the mood of optimism
with the decline of John Major's government, and the rise of the
Tony Blair as leader of the Labour Party. The term had
been used in the late 1980s in Sounds magazine by journalist John Robb
to refer to bands such as The La's, The Stone Roses, and Inspiral
Carpets. However, it would be 1994 before Britpop
started to be used by the UK media in relation to contemporary music
and events. Bands emerged aligned with the new movement. At the
start of 1995 bands including Sleeper, Supergrass, and Menswear scored
Elastica released their debut album
Elastica that March;
its first week sales surpassed the record set by
Definitely Maybe the
previous year. The music press viewed the scene around Camden Town
as a musical centre; frequented by groups like Blur, Elastica, and
Melody Maker declared "Camden is to 1995 what
Seattle was to
Manchester was to 1989, and what
Mr Blobby was to
"The Battle of Britpop"
The UK media were excited by the chart battle between Oasis and Blur
A chart battle between Blur and Oasis dubbed "The Battle of Britpop"
Britpop to the forefront of the British press in 1995. The
bands had initially praised each other but over the course of the year
antagonisms between the two increased. Spurred on by the media,
the groups became engaged in what the
NME dubbed on the cover of its
12 August issue the "British Heavyweight Championship" with the
pending release of Oasis' single "Roll with It", and Blur's "Country
House" on the same day. The battle pitted the two bands against each
other, with the conflict as much about British class and regional
divisions as it was about music. Oasis were taken as representing
the North of England, while Blur represented the South. The event
caught the public's imagination and gained mass media attention in
national newspapers, tabloids, and even the
BBC News. The
about the phenomenon, "Yes, in a week where news leaked that Saddam
Hussein was preparing nuclear weapons, everyday folks were still
getting slaughtered in Bosnia and
Mike Tyson was making his comeback,
tabloids and broadsheets alike went
Britpop crazy." Blur won the
battle of the bands, selling 274,000 copies to Oasis' 216,000 - the
songs charting at number one and number two respectively. However,
in the long run Oasis became more commercially successful than Blur.
Unlike Blur, Oasis were able to achieve sustained sales in the United
States thanks to the singles "Wonderwall" and "Champagne
Supernova". Oasis's second album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?
(1995) eventually sold over four million copies in the UK, becoming
the third best-selling album in British history. These subsequent
successes led some members of the press to state in later years that
Oasis "lost the battle but won the war."
By the summer of 1996 Oasis's prominence was such that
NME termed a
Britpop bands (including The Boo Radleys, Ocean Colour Scene
and Cast) as "Noelrock", citing Gallagher's influence on their
success. John Harris typified this wave of
Britpop bands, and
Gallagher, of sharing "a dewy-eyed love of the 1960s, a spurning of
much beyond rock's most basic ingredients, and a belief in the
supremacy of 'real music'". Starting on 10 August 1996, Oasis
played a two-night set at Knebworth to a combined audience of 250,000
people, with one journalist commenting; "(Knebworth) could be seen as
the last great
Britpop performance; nothing after would match its
scale." The demand for these gigs was and still is the largest
ever for a concert on British soil; over 2.6 million people had
applied for tickets.
Oasis playing live
Oasis' third album Be Here Now (1997) was highly anticipated. Despite
initially attracting positive reviews and selling strongly, the record
was soon subjected to strong criticism from music critics,
record-buyers and even
Noel Gallagher himself for its overproduced and
bloated sound. Music critic Jon Savage pinpointed Be Here Now as the
Britpop ended; Savage said that while the album "isn't
the great disaster that everybody says," he noted that "[i]t was
supposed to be the big, big triumphal record" of the period. At
the same time,
Damon Albarn sought to distance Blur from
the band's self-titled fifth album, Blur (1997). On guitarist
Graham Coxon's suggestion, Blur moved away from their Parklife-era
sound, and their music began to assimilate American lo-fi influences,
particularly that of Pavement. Albarn explained to the
NME in January
1997 that "We created a movement: as far as the lineage of British
bands goes, there'll always be a place for us", but added, "We
genuinely started to see that world in a slightly different way."
As the movement began to slow down, many acts began to falter and
broke up. The popularity of the pop group the
Spice Girls has been
seen as having "snatched the spirit of the age from those responsible
for Britpop." While established acts struggled, attention began to
turn to the likes of
Radiohead and The Verve, who had been previously
overlooked by the British media. These two bands—in particular
Radiohead—showed considerably more esoteric influences from the
1960s and 1970s that were uncommon among earlier
Britpop acts. In
The Verve released their respective efforts OK
Computer and Urban Hymns, both of which were widely acclaimed.
Post-Britpop bands like Travis,
Stereophonics and Coldplay, influenced
Britpop acts, particularly Oasis, with more introspective lyrics,
were some of the most successful rock acts of the late 1990s and early
Main article: Post-Britpop
This section should include only a brief summary of Post-Britpop. See
Wikipedia:Summary style for information on how to properly incorporate
it into this article's main text. (January 2018)
Coldplay, the most commercially successful post-
Britpop band to date,
on stage in 2008.
Britpop the media focused on bands that may have been
established acts, but had been over-looked due to focus on the Britpop
movement. Bands such as
Radiohead and The Verve, and new acts such as
Travis, Stereophonics, Feeder and particularly Coldplay, achieved
wider international success than most of the
Britpop groups that had
preceded them, and were some of the most commercially successful acts
of the late 1990s and early 2000s. These bands avoided
Britpop label while still producing music derived from it.
Bands that had enjoyed some success during the mid-1990s, but were not
really part of the
Britpop scene, included
The Verve and
Radiohead. The music of most bands was guitar based, often
mixing elements of British traditional rock (or British trad
rock), particularly the Beatles,
Rolling Stones and Small
Faces with American influences.
Post-Britpop bands also utilized
specific elements from 1970s British rock and pop music. Drawn
from across the United Kingdom, the themes of their music tended to be
less parochially centred on British, English and London life, and more
introspective than had been the case with
Britpop at its
height. This, beside a greater willingness to woo the
American press and fans, may have helped a number of them in achieving
international success. They have been seen as presenting the image
of the rock star as an ordinary person, or "boy-next-door" and
their increasingly melodic music was criticised for being bland or
The cultural and musical scene in Scotland, dubbed "Cool Caledonia" by
some elements of the press, produced a number of successful
alternative acts, including
The Supernaturals from Glasgow.
Travis, also from Glasgow, were one of the first major rock bands to
emerge in the post-
Britpop era, and have been credited with a
major role in disseminating and even creating the subgenre of
post-Britpop. From Edinburgh Idlewild, more influenced by
post-grunge, produced 3 top 20 albums, peaking with The Remote Part
(2002). The first major band to breakthrough from the post-Britpop
Welsh rock scene, dubbed "Cool Cymru", were Catatonia, whose
single "Mulder and Scully" (1998) reached the top ten in the UK, and
whose album International Velvet (1998) reached number one, but they
were unable to make much impact in the US and, after personal
problems, broke up at the end of the century. Other Welsh
bands were Stereophonics, and Feeder.
These acts were followed by a number of bands who shared aspects of
their music, including Snow Patrol, from Scotland and Elbow, Embrace,
Starsailor, Doves, Electric Pyramid and Keane from England.
The most commercially successful band in the milieu were Coldplay,
whose debut album Parachutes (2000) went multi-platinum and helped
make them one of the most popular acts in the world by the time of
their second album
A Rush of Blood to the Head
A Rush of Blood to the Head (2002). Bands
like Coldplay, Starsailor and Elbow, with introspective lyrics and
even tempos, began to be criticised at the beginning of the new
millennium as bland and sterile and the wave of garage rock or
post-punk revival bands, like the Hives, the Vines, the Libertines,
the Strokes, the Black Keys and the White Stripes, that sprang up in
that period were welcomed by the musical press as "the saviours of
rock and roll". However, a number of the bands of this era,
Stereophonics and Coldplay, continued to record
and enjoy commercial success into the new millennium. The
idea of post-
Britpop has been extended to include bands originating in
the new millennium, including Razorlight, Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic
Monkeys and Bloc Party, seen as a "second wave" of Britpop".
These bands have been seen as looking less to music of the 1960s and
more to 1970s punk and post-punk, while still being influenced by
Retrospective documentaries on the movement include The
BBC programme presented by John Harris on
BBC Four in August
2005 as part of
Britpop Night, ten years after Blur and Oasis went
head-to-head in the charts, and Live Forever: The Rise and
Fall of Brit Pop, a 2003 documentary film written and directed by John
Dower. Both documentaries include mention of
Tony Blair and New
Labour's efforts to align themselves with the distinctly British
cultural resurgence that was underway, as well
Britpop artists such as
Britpop revival or
Britpop revivalists is an alternative rock
subgenre and is the period following
Britpop in the early 2010s, when
the media were identifying a "new generation" of guitar bands
influenced by acts like Oasis and Blur.
With the disappearance of bands like Oasis and Blur in the 2000s, the
beginning and middle of the 2010s saw the emergence of the first bands
Britpop revival. The band
Viva Brother (formerly called
Brother) which formed in 2010, was named by magazines like
NME and The
Guardian as the first band of the
Britpop revival. In 2011, they
released their first LP Famous First Words. Other bands that
appeared were All the Young, Superfood, Peace, DMA's,
and The Creasers.
Bands associated with Britpop
This section is in a list format that may be better presented using
prose. You can help by converting this section to prose, if
appropriate. Editing help is available. (February 2016)
Main article: List of
The Boo Radleys
The Divine Comedy
Ocean Colour Scene
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