2015 marks the 20th anniversary of the chart battle between Blur’s ‘Country House’ and Oasis’ ‘Roll With It’, a time when Britpop dominated the airwaves and the UK was witnessing a new age in Rock ‘n’ Roll. Britpop was born as a form of rebellion against the heavier, grungier sounds coming from the USA in the earlier 90’s and a growing rave scene in the northern cities of England. Bands such as Oasis, who grew up on the catchy guitar anthems of The Kinks and The Smiths were hungry for a light hearted alternative to the heavy rock or dance that was being imposed upon youth culture. Eventually, Britpop became a victim of it’s own success, collapsing under it’s gigantic weight like a black hole, leaving Britain to descend into an age of early 00’s pop groups and nu-metal. Here though, some of the Indiependent writers have chosen some of their favourite heroes of the Britpop era.
Common People // Pulp
‘Common People’ is one of the most culturally, satirically and adolescently important songs to come out of the 90’s Britpop era, all wrapped up in the guise of a catchy pop song. Superficially, the track appeals to audiences through the love story that it depicts, between a wealthy, international student who forms an unlikely connection with Jarvis Cocker, from a poor Sheffield background.
This doomed love story, however, is beautifully entangled in the realities of a post-Thatcher Britain, where the young generation are left wondering aimlessly through the class system, worlds away from the Tory kids that they come to rub shoulders with at university. ‘Common People’ is three songs in one; on one level it is a bright-eyed love letter to a girl that Jarvis Cocker finds himself infatuated with. It is also a cheeky social commentary on the class divide between two people that share the same university campus: “She told me that her Dad was loaded, I said in that case I’ll have a rum and coke-cola.” Also concealed within Pulp’s Britpop classic is the story of a young academic moving away from the comfort of his Sheffield home, meeting exotic women and finding his own place in London society.
‘Common People’ showcases everything that was good about its era, with a hooky pop vibe coupled with touching reality and nostalgic anecdotes.
Words by Matt Ganfield