Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Was Britpop Shit?

Today there is so much stuff in the news about the 20th anniversary of Oasis's gigs at Knebworth, that twenty years from now people will be asking not 'Were you at Knebworth?' but 'Where were you when you found out it was the twentieth anniversary of Knebworth?'. I was there. On the second night, so 20 years tomorrow, which means my 'Christ, I'm old' hasn't kicked in yet. Being there on the second night meant that I missed out on seeing The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers but did get to see the 7,378th most memorable band of the 90s Dreadzone.

Here's what I remember about Knebworth. Me and my friend took a coach there which took a couple of hours, arrived at about midday and immediately found a spot where we stood for the next eleven hours. I am almost certain that I did not have a piss for the entire day. As someone who now urinates twice in an episode of Gogglebox, I can confirm that if I miss one thing about the 90s it is my bladder. I wish I'd got more done really. If I'd had known just how much of future decades were to be taken up by bodily functions, I might have written a couple of symphonies.

Was Britpop shit? Does anyone listen to Britpop anymore? I mean, does anyone ever stick on a Longpigs album? I fully signed up to Britpop. I bought the NME every week, I listened to Steve Lamaq, I bought that 7inch single which was just a recording of an argument between the Gallagher brothers, in the Blur vs Oasis singles battle I sat on the fence and bought one of each. Britpop just happened to coincide roughly with my pubescent need for a culture to join in with.

It feels to me like the last mono-culture of its sort. By 1996, being a British teenager and not liking either Blur or Oasis was unusual. It started as something vaguely alternative but ended up, until the Spice Girls, being almost entirely dominant. Britpop events like album releases or big gigs were regularly on the news. As a teenager, I felt like I was part of a movement comparable with the 60s. I wasn't was I? It was just some, mainly average guitar bands singing the sort of songs that Robbie Williams would go on to sing. If your mum will let you put a tape on in the car then it's not really an significant musical movement is it? It was safe and I don't mean 'safe' by its 90s meaning - I mean no one's mum was worried about them going to Knebworth because they'd already worked out that we were a generation of pussies.

I'm only really talking about my experience of Britpop really aren't I? I'm sure you were all doing crack with Dreadzone. But I really don't think there's been a British musical movement of its size since, nor one that was more disposable or entirely un-revolutionary ever.

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