Posts Tagged ‘pulp’

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Threesome: 90s Britpop revisited

August 22, 2008

Between seeing Jarvis Cocker at the Pitchfork Music Festival, and watching the Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett promo for the Olympics, I’ve thinking about the era in the 1990s when the sun never set on the Britpop empire. Led by Blur (above), Oasis, and Pulp, British acts dominated the UK charts with songs about, well, being British. In a conscious rejection of US culture (especially the rise of grunge), 90s Britpop married lyrics focused on the lives of working-class Brits—as exemplified by Pulp’s “Common People”—with anthemic or catchy pop tunes, drawing from British-Invasion-era antecedents like The Kinks. The music was seen as part of the larger “Cool Britannia” cultural movement, kind of a nationalism-lite. In 1997, after 18 straight years of Conservative leadership, the young (well, relatively speaking) Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister with a Labour government, and he allied himself with the music and the scene, as a way of associating himself and Labour with youth and change. That was probably its death knell, and the idea of “Cool Britannia” quickly became trite. In retrospect, of course, that cultural moment appears as a bright spot of peace and optimism before 9/11, the 7/7 subway bombings, and the ongoing aftermath. And its music lives on.

MP3: Oasis – Go Let It Out (more about Oasis)

MP3: Pulp – Do You Remember the First Time? (more about Pulp)

MP3: Blur – Country House (more about Blur)

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Pitchfork highlights: Saturday, Jarvis Cocker

July 20, 2008

How did I ever forget how much I love Jarvis Cocker, the charismatic former frontman and principal of Pulp, especially since he wrote one of my favourite songs of all time? (“Common People,” off the 1995 album Different Class.) His self-titled solo album came out in 2006, and he played a set at the Pitchfork Music Festival on Saturday night. The standout song was the as-yet-unrecorded “Girls Like It Too”.  Cocker introduced it as being based on a line from a reassuring letter that John Peel wrote to his brother as he (the brother) was just becoming sexually aware, which was read aloud at Peel’s funeral in 2004. (The YouTube video, above, is from the March 2008 premiere of the song in Buenos Aires.) And in a typically classy note, Cocker’s encore was the 1987 track “Face It” by Master C & J, a shoutout to Chicago as the birthplace of house. (thanks to Erich for helping me identify the artist).

Previously: Pitchfork highlights: Friday, Mission of Burma