Where were you when we we were getting high? The right answer to this question is, what were you doing while listening to the iconic verse ‘Where were you when we were getting high?’ [Oasis, Champagne Supernova]. For most of us the battle between grunge and Britpop never ended and if the latter was a musical genre that specifically aimed at washing American grunge away like a bad smell, we are not sure which of the two will be most remembered in 50 years’ time.
Amongst the Britpop bands that defined the attitude of the genre the so called Big 4, Blur, Suede, Pulp and Oasis. Blur’s Damon Albarn defined this very attitude of being the ‘anti-grunge’ with these words:
“Well, that’s good. If punk was about getting rid of hippies, then I’m getting rid of grunge.’’
In terms of style and imagery Britpop bands related to a bit of ‘lad culture’ , ‘working class’ and their stage uniforms were put together around head-to-toe black outfits, biker jackets and those iconic hairstyles of Cool Britannia.
These are the hymns of Britpop, aka the songs made by the bands who created the genre in the first half of the 90s.
Suede, Beautiful Ones
Suede’s 1996 hit “Beautiful Ones” is everything Britpop ever good did to the music industry; the cheery song incorporates some of that Bowie’s glam rock as well as solid guitar reefs. The looks put together by the band members reflect some of the essence of Britpop bands, with their head-to-toe black outfits and long dark hair to match.
Suede, Animal Nitrate
Released in 1993, this is one of the best Britpop songs of all time made by Suede. If you ever wanted to get to the bottom of the meaning behind the lyrics and the video to the song, well, Brett Anderson told once NME that cocaine played a big part in the decision making.
Suede, The Drowners
This song is turning me gay. — (YouTube comment)
From 1992, The Drowners is the debut single released by Suede; even though the catchy drum intro and vocal excitement, the song didn’t blow the minds of music labels and as Brett Anderson stated in an interview with Uncut:
We were quite shunned early on, with exactly the same material that we were later hailed for, which was quite a strange situation.
And even though it sounds like a love song, it was actually about the idea of the identity of the band, and what they stood for.”
This is what Bratt Anderson stated about the meaning of the song. And if you are still struggling to define what the genre is, by defining what being a Suede means, this is the tune expressing the outcast mood fans of Britpop songs fell for back in the 90s.
Maybe maybe it’s the things we say,
The words we’ve heard and the music we play,
Maybe it’s our cheapness
Or maybe, maybe it’s the times we’ve had
Released in 1995 with the album Morning Glory, Wonderwall is one the hits that took part in the Battle of Britpop, a rivalry which started on August 14th the same year when both band released songs. Even though Oasis never particularly identified themselves as Britpop, they indeed were the leaders of the movement.
Oasis, Cigarette and Alcohol
Written by Noel Gallagher, Cigarette and Alcohol is one of the most famous Britpop song for its clear reference to the working class, one theme Britpop bands portrayed in their songs along with Britishness.
Is it worth the aggravation to find yourself a job when there’s nothing worth working for
Oasis, Champagne Supernova
With one of the catchiest lines coming out of this music genre, Oasis’ Champagne Supernova is one of the best Britpop songs, which probably closes their hegemonic domain over the other bands:
Where were you while we were getting high
Oasis, Live Forever
The third single out of their debut album Definitely, maybe, this one of the songs embodying the attempt of Britpop of closing a door behind grunge music. With its positive attitude and cheerful lyrics, it is a song that will live forever in music history.
Oasis, Don’t look back in anger
This is one song that will love on for years. Even though Noel Gallagher said he does not know what the lyrics exactly mean, to the world the message has been pretty clear for the last 23 years since it was released. Don’t look back in anger became the symbol of the spirit of resistance that followed the terrorist attack during Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester.
Country House, Blur
The whole Blur Vs Oasis thing went on for years and it was probably due to this song the two Britpop bands had started their rivalry at the top of the charts, when it was released in the summer of 1995. It’s up to you to decide if it still stands a chance amongst your favourites.
Girls and Boys, Blur
From their album Parklife, Girls and Boys is one of the best Britpop songs worth your attention; the song’s dance beat turned it into one of the late 90s (and years to come) most played songs in clubs.
Park Life, Blur
“I came up with the idea for this song in this park. I was living on Kensington Church Street, and I used to come into the park at the other end, and I used to, you know, watch people, and pigeons…”
Nothing more cheerful and laid back than Damon Albarn’s way of going through the day, just taking a bit of comfort by passers by who feed pigeons. There you have it, Blur is the Britpop band who made what the genre is all about very clear.
Coffee and TV, Blur
Holding out your heart
To people who never really
Care how you are
Story of my life, if you asked me. But we are not discussing how I related to some of the best Britpop songs, although, the lyrics written by Blur’s guitarist Graham Coxon are actually about his struggles with alcoholism.
Pulp, Common People
If Common People isn’t the quintessence of Britpop, we would struggle to find another amongst Britpop songs proclaiming and portraying all the feelings and that mood only the genre is able to drag you right into. In 2014 it was voted as the Best Britpop songs by BBC Radio 6 Music listeners.
Pulp, Sorted for E’s & Wizz
From their UK Number one album Different Class, Sorted for E’s & Wizz is their second number two in the UK charts in 1995. An explicit reference to taking drugs (E’s and Wizz are ecstasy and pills), the song is one of the most famous Britpop anthems.
Pulp, This is Hardcore
Released in 1998, This is Hardcore is one of the later works by one of the best Britpop bands, Pulp; the song will give name to the album and it features a sample of the Bolero on The Moon Rocks by the Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra.
Pulp, Disco 2000
F**** me, the year 2000 has gone, dusted and seems yesterday, yet, it was almost 20 years ago. Have you all met up with your teenage crushes? If you haven’t, take your time, this Britpop song is sticking, probably another 20 years, considering it was released in 1995.
Bittersweet Symphony, The Verve
If you haven’t been hooked up by Richard Ashcroft’s walk in the video of his most famous song with The Verve, maybe its live version at Glastonbury in 2008 will, testimony of the fact that despite its short spell, Britpop has influenced music more than we think.
…and many more Britpop bands
It’s sunny, cheery and it feels alright: Supergrass’ Alright is one of those Britpop songs that give sa whole different mood. The Oxford lads might be less famous than the big 4 amongst some of the Britpop Bands.
Justine Frischmann founded Elastica after leaving Suede and her most famous work with the band, which came out with a self-titled album in 1995, and only relevant work in the days Britpop bands hay days; the punk-pop vibe of Elastica makes it one of the best Britpop songs.
All You Good Good People, Embrace
The Gallaghers were not the only brothers involved in Britpop; siblings Danny and Richard McNamara have in total released 7 studio album with Embrace, the last in 2018, although it was their 1998 All You Good Good People the topped the UK charts.
Super Furry Animals, If you don’t want me to destroy you
Super Furry Animals are a Britpop Band from Wales and although they were from the era, they never considered them as part of the genre. And if you listen to If you don’t want me to destroy, you will surely put them in category as we are doing.
The Scousers are Alright, aren’t they? Emerging from the era of Britpop bands, Liverpool group Cast came out with with this tune in 1995, from their debut album Change.
Show Girl, The Auteurs
If were looking to hear something you haven’t heard yet amongst Britpop Bands, probably The Auteurs are that. They too as other groups from the era made derogatory comments about Britpop and did not consider themselves as part of it, what would you say from their song ‘Show Girl’?