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Top Ten Britpop Bands
Britpop. A genre of music in the 1990s that dominated the British music scene and the British music press. Justine Frischmann [lead singer of Elastica, and blur frontman Damon Albarn's girlfriend] said it best by calling the genre "A manifesto for the return of Britishness" And that's what it was- British pop music hadn't dominated since the Beatles, and now a surge of new talent, each unique and quirky and British stormed the scene.
And thus the best bands of the 90s were born. The decade brought albums that changed people's lives, music that made people remember why they loved music in the first place. A famous feud arose, was fought and then was forgotten about. Sexy and talented men graced the covers of NME, Select, Mojo. The Americans embraced their grunge music, and only those import-buying among them knew of the explosion that was occurring across the pond. But after a decade it was over, but not without leaving an undeniable mark on the British music that came after. Countless musicians of today and the future grew up with blur posters tacked to the wall, as they practices Oasis riffs and a Jarvis Cocker swagger.
With all the wonderful bands that aligned themselves with the movement, it's difficult and unfair to narrow it down the the top 10. But alas- here they are, in reverse order: the Top 10 Britpop bands.
10. Shed Seven
Poor Shed Seven, they were always criticized in the music press for being a bit daft. While perhaps their songs won't change your life, and they might not be very inventive, the very heart of Britpop is putting together fun, catchy pop songs that unapologetically embrace your sheer Britishness. Shed Seven succeeds on all these points and more. So give these guys a break. You'll have Speak Easy stuck in your head for days!
These guys are the very embodiment of what Britpop is all about. Fun, catchy rock songs sung by a bloke with a heavy British accent. Their guitar fronted pop is often likened to Oasis, and Noel Gallagher, the lead singer of Oasis, has nothing but praise for them, calling their live show a "religious experience". Although they might not be as popular or influential as the bigger Britpop acts, their album All Change is just as good an introduction to Britpop as any.
8. The Boo Radleys
First off, they win points just for a having a brilliant name. Of course their music is just as brilliant. They began as a shoegaze band [if you're unfamiliar with the term, it means they threw up a wall of sound and the vocals were breathy and near the back] but by the Britpop era they became a bit more straightforward, with noisy guitars and catchy choruses. Still- their shoegaze roots are evident in the wonderful mix, almost cacophony, of instruments they have in their songs.
Songs to Check Out
Gene is one of the most criminally underrated bands of the Britpop movement. They were often compared to the Smiths, (one of the largest British acts of the era), because lead singer Martin Rossiter had a similar voice and the same blunt loneliness as Morrissey. But the comparison isn't always fair, this band deserves to be considered more than one who tried and failed to copy the sound of a far more popular band. Their debut album Olympian, is a musical triumph of strong vocals and instrumentation, creating songs that are are at once melancholy and emotional but also catchy and easy to rock out to.
I suppose even those not fully entrenched in the Britpop scene know the song Bittersweet Symphony. Their other songs are quite similar- complex, deep and depressing songs about the hopelessness of existence, the ever trudging path of time, and how life is fleeting. Even with their orchestral melodies and occasional spellbinding psychedelia these guys are true rock and rollers.
Supergrass is unapologetically fun and absolutely catchy. They were only teenagers when they recorded their first single, but even as they got older, their youthful energy and feverish intensity never wore off. Their songs are enthusiastic, they have a sense of humour and while they don't take themselves seriously, but they don't take anyone else seriously either. But some of their songs can have a brush of poignancy and deep lyrics. Yet- those songs are rare, they'd rather sing high energy songs about being "Caught by the Fuzz".
Songs to Check Out
Suede is considered one of the founders of the Britpop movement. Despite this, they are less poppy than the other acts on this list. Considered more glam-rock than anything, lead singer Brett Anderson exudes nothing but cool with his slightly androgynous swagger, and bares his unique voice with a dramatic flair.
[they are referred to as the London Suede over in the US]
Pulp is a glam pop band fronted by the unique and stylish Jarvis Cocker. His lyrics tell stories- often of the narrator's sexual frustration or angst of growing up. However, he's not one to take himself seriously and the angst is quite comical, as he often mutters asides into his sometimes sung, sometimes spoken lyrics. All and all they are a very hip band.
Ah Oasis. Every has heard their song "Wonderwall" and every bloke with a guitar has attempted to learn it in order to impress girls. But there's more to them than that. They are the quintessential 90s British rockers, and basically every British rock band to come after has gained [or pined for] comparisons to them. This rough around the edges, 60s and 70s inspired rock band was practically the face of the britpop movement. So why aren't they number one? Well they got in a famous feud with a little band called Blur...
This band embodies the very essence of Britpop. They succeed in creating a sound that is so distinctly British, so poppy and so fun. It's not surprising that they were the stars of the movement, and inspired many of the bands that came after them. Their feud with Oasis was based in class and regional differences. Blur were the artsy college intellectuals from the South, and Oasis were Northern working class rockers. If we're being honest with each other, I always preferred Blur's witty lyrics and fun loving pop so they are the greatest Britpop band of all time!