30th October 2015 marked the 20th anniversary of Pulp’s number one, four-times platinum, Mercury Prize winning album Different Class. Ranked at number 6 in NME’s 500 greatest albums of all time, Pulp’s fifth studio album was released at the height of Britpop and helped propel the band to nationwide fame. To celebrate the anniversary of this stellar album, The Indiependent team have taken a moment to talk about some of our favourite Pulp tracks.
Undoubtedly Pulp’s most popular track, Common People is an anthem of the band’s working class roots. Telling the story of meeting a girl who’s “dad was loaded”, Cocker tries to help her live the life of a working class girl, eventually exploding into a rage that she’ll “never fail like common people / you’ll never watch your life slide out of view”. Accompanied by an essentially simple, narrative – but also slightly bizarre – music video, Common People is the pinnacle of 90s Britpop.
A speculative myth surrounds the song – many think that the subject of the song might well be Danae Stratou, wife of Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis – but, maybe, the girl isn’t what matters. She’s the starting point for a bigger picture, the image Cocker paints of himself, and his peers, striving to survive, broke and hopeless, without a safety net.
Perhaps that’s exactly why the song became so popular; aside from it being frighteningly catchy and undoubtedly anthemic, it was hugely relatable for a vast proportion of its listeners. As a lot of the truly great tracks of the last fifty years are, Common People is a lot more than just an ear-worm of a pop tune.
Words by Amie Bailey