Britpop is forever shrouded away somewhere in a foggy, sepia-tinted corner of our collective memory, emerging only in sneering, populist think pieces and woozy pub conversations like that friend who half you hate and half of you bloody love.
Indeed, the term itself became much-derided by musicians who were deemed ostensibly ‘Britpop’ artists, owing to the argument that the term was just too broad a church. Towards the end of the nineties, Britpop became something of a dirty
word; a term that carried with it connotations of lad’s mags, Union Jack
mini dresses, swaggering mop-tops and alcoholic lemonade.
But behind the lager-soaked, Jack-the-lad aggression lay something more powerful. It was a time when pop music was dominated by guitar bands from the regions, who sang in regional accents, about things the average man and woman on the regional street could relate to (Champagne Supernovas notwithstanding.) The chart success of working class artists proved that any lad or ladette could pick up a guitar or stand in front of a microphone and make magic happen. While the media went wild for the Oasis-Blur rivalry, the genre had its feet firmly planted on the ground thanks to the outfits such as Suede, Pulp, Radiohead, Charlatans and Manic Street Preachers turning out tune after tune. Pop music was in a good place.
But it wasn’t just these heavyweights who determined the flow of the music charts. Sure, there was some landfill - even the most avid Absolute Radio listener will hold their hands up to that - but equally there were many songs that, over the intervening years, have been unfairly consigned to the dustbin of music history.
Well, friends, it’s time to roll up your parka sleeves, down your Hooch, and rescue them from the heap, as we look back at ten Britpop bangers you totally forgot existed.
10. Black Grape – Kelly’s Heroes (1995)
Okay, let’s get this one out of the way first as it isn’t strictly Britpop, but with a chart that included the likes of Simply Red, Boyzone, and, yes, Robson and Jerome, we had to take all we could get in December 1995. Thankfully Black Grape’s dancefloor bait, a satire on the public’s unquenchable desire for poster boys and girls, was a salve.
The third and final single from their debut album It’s Great When You’re Straight... Yeah was originally intended as much more in keeping with Shaun Ryder’s previous sound in Happy Mondays, with the addition of a heavy dose of US hip-hop.Those sounds, however, were deployed elsewhere on the album, leaving the finished version of Kelly’s Heroes as a rock-driven affair, complimented by a pounding, metronomic bass drum and funky guitar loops. Ryder shares vocal duties with rapper Kermit, and it’s so much fun; like two blokes down a Salford boozer having a drunken, inconsequential chat before challenging each other as they repeat the refrain “who’s got the biggest brain?” I dare you to listen to this track without performing even the tiniest of little Bez dances.
STANDOUT LYRIC: Jesus was a black man / No Jesus was Batman / No no no no, that was Bruce Wayne.