was a somewhat ill-defined scene in British Alternative Rock
in the mid-90s. When in 1991 Nirvana
released "Smells Like Teen Spirit", Grunge
quickly took over the British music conciousness: suddenly everyone had long hair and scrappy clothes again. A loose rabble of musicians in Britain took exception to this, and in 1992 Britpop was born - music that was somehow 'British' rather than the American stuff. blur
" is often cited as the first Britpop song, with Suede's "The Drowners
" following shortly.
Despite the eager tagging of bands, what exactly Britpop was
is difficult to define. Among the earliest adapters were The Stone Roses
in 1989 (who themselves were part of "Madchester" a sort of halfway point between New Wave Music
and Britpop), but they never lived up to the promise of their first album. Then there were The La's
, who were either twenty years ahead of their time or twenty behind. Manic Street Preachers
, a Welsh group that was influenced equally by Glam Rock
, Punk Rock
and American hard rock, were another early innovator of the Britpop sound (and actually wound up lasting longer
than most of the bands that were directly influenced by them).
The groups that followed these bands' lead and, in turn, became the leading Britpop bands include:
- Suede, glam rockers taking cues from David Bowie who camped it up around Camden Town and got their picture on the cover of Melody Maker before they even had a record out.
- blur, a former shoegazing/Madchester act that, after touring America in 1992 and finding the experience dreadful, became one of Britpop's leading lights, hearkening back to British pop music of The Sixties such as The Kinks.
- Elastica, a mostly-female group who drew their sound from punk acts like Wire or The Stranglers.
- Pulp, a band that was formed by a few teenage friends in 1978 which had finally found commercial success with their 1994 album His n' Hers.
- Primal Scream, one of the weirdest bands of the genre due to their influence from house music and trippy psychedelic beats, but Screamadelica is considered a key Britpop album.
- Ash, a Northern Irish band influenced by punk and grunge music.
- Sleeper, a band fronted by Louise Wener. Famous for coining the term "Sleeperblokes".
- Echobelly, a band similar to Sleeper in that the lead singer was female in a predominantly male band.
- Lush, which pulled an abrupt Genre Shift from Shoegazing to Britpop in 1996
- The Bluetones, a band that found early success when their debut album knocked (What's The Story) Morning Glory? off the number one spot in the charts for a week.
- Ocean Colour Scene, one of the bands alongside Pulp that predated Britpop but found their greatest commercial success in the era.
- Kula Shaker, a band influenced not only by early 90's rock, but also by late 60's psychedelia and Indian music. Notable for being led by Crispian Mills, son of Former Child Star Hayley Mills.
- Space, a Genre-Busting group from Liverpool who never really fitted in with the ilk, but found great commercial success during this period.
- Super Furry Animals, a Welsh psychedelic band who like Space actually had nothing to do with Britpop, but because they played rock music and formed around the same time, they were often grouped with the scene.
- Supergrass, formed by teenagers in the early 1990's.
- And last, but certainly not least, there was Oasis, big Mancunian fans of The Beatles and simple, big, stadium-filling rock 'n' roll. They were by far the most successful act to come out of the Britpop years, and the only ones who really made any impact in America.
Additionally, there were several, smaller groups of varying popularity (and quality) that rode the Britpop wave to a handful of chart singles. Among them are Cast, Dodgy, Menswear, Smaller, The Divine Comedy, Mansun, Mega City Four, Catatonia, The Lightning Seeds, My Life Story, Rialto, 60 Ft. Dolls, These Animal Men, Gene, Hurricane #1, Shed Seven, Northern Uproar and Gay Dad
. Many of these groups were considered to be Follow the Leader
acts to the big names, and many never even managed a blip on the radar outside of the UK, but they all have their own devoted followings to this day.
Britpop came to a head in the summer of '95 (when Blur and Oasis fought the Battle of Britpop, a fight to get to Number One when they released singles - "Country House" and "Roll With It" - on the same day. Blur won that battle, but Oasis ultimately was the more popular band at the end of the 90's) and in early '96.
In the end, heaving under the weight of drugs, artist disillusionment
, and the continued failure by any band not named Oasis to break America, it collapsed in 1997: Oasis's long awaited third album Be Here Now
was (and still is) the fastest selling album in British history, but it was equally quickly sold on to charity shops by disheartened fans and went down in history as an overhyped, dismal flop. Oasis chugged along, releasing well selling albums that got alright reviews until the band ended in an yet another squabble between the Gallagher brothers in 2009. blur
turned away from the Britpop sound with their fifth album Blur
, paved the way for the Garage Rock
Revival of the 2000s, and unlike Oasis quit while they were ahead and still at the top of their game in 2003. Pulp continued to release critically adored albums for a few years before completely disappearing. Supergrass somehow managed to outlive most of their second-tier Britpop competition, became a major player in the British alternative scene and existed until April 2010. Radiohead
and The Verve, formerly 'the ones who did Creep
' and 'that shoegaze act', released OK Computer
and Urban Hymns
, successful albums that moved the music scene onward.
Today, the genre survives in the form of Post-Britpop, an even less
well-defined category occupied by groups like Stereophonics, Elbow
Tropes somehow involved with Britpop: