“Bloimey! Modern Culture Don’t ‘Arf Like An Annivers’ry”

This week in 1994, Blur released “Parklife”. 20 years later, The Guardian newspaper published a couple of pieces on Britpop that made my blood boil. Here’s the first, by Michael Hann, and here’s the second, by Paul Lester.

There’s loads to hate about the times as portrayed in those articles. Yes, a life of drug-fuelled showing off in the public eye is never going to be a lot of fun in retrospect. And when you look at what has happened to popular culture since, it does look rather like everything that’s happened post 1997 has been a race to the bottom in pursuit of the lowest common denominator. Not to mention embarrassing photographs taken at a champagne reception with an alleged war criminal.

What is happening during “The 20th Anniversary of Britpop” is a wholesale flushing away of babies with bathwater. Back in 1994 nobody felt the hand of history upon their shoulders. Those of us that were writing songs, crate-digging for interesting records, writing think-pieces in obscure publications, drinking and dancing and screwing, were too busy to have an eye on a future legacy. We had no idea what was around the corner, though we hoped it would be better than the road we’d been travelling along hitherto. What became known as the Britpop era was home to both a very simple concept (pop music made by people in Britain) and a whole host of disparate, occasionally conflicting influences. The bands that rose to prominence during the mid-90’s didn’t come from nowhere, although some of them seem to have risen without trace. They arose from a generation who sought to fashion the elastic jumble of pop culture’s past into something new.

It didn’t always work, and it wasn’t always brilliant. But the intentions of that generation, my generation, our generation, were good. One day someone will tell our side of the story.



3 thoughts on ““Bloimey! Modern Culture Don’t ‘Arf Like An Annivers’ry”

  1. Very well said. If you want someone to tell the real story, I am currently running an account of my experiences during the britpop years on my site, gradually bit by bit. i was only a kid back then and if britpop didnt happen, id have never become interested in music like i am now. Michael Hann is an idiot trying to look cool and cause a stir.

  2. I don’t think Michael Hann is “an idiot”. He’s a very respected journalist and editor of a national newspaper’s music section. You don’t get that kind of gig by being an idiot. There’s an argument for saying that he didn’t like what the emergence of Britpop did to the Indie scene at the time, an opinion he may have held for twenty years. And as I said, it’s possible to argue with a good deal of conviction that popular culture has undergone a race to the bottom in search of the lowest common denominator since 1997. Whilst I’m not quite as pessimistic as that, I broadly agree that the rise to prominence of one or two of the bands (who were, well, less able to articulate a more intellectual, more artistically beneficial musical and lyrical vocabulary), and the blindness of the music industry at the time to the promise of new technologies, were on the whole a bad thing. This is possibly the source of Hann’s beef with Britpop. My beef with Hann and his article isn’t that he’s a bad journalist, rather a lazy one. There are many more versions of this particular history that can and should be told.

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