Britpop As A Driving Force Of Cool Britannia: A Study Of Alternative Music In Popular Culture. by Vineet Kanabar. 113B, PGP1.

Britpop evolved in the early 90s as a response to the American grunge, new wave and punk revival movements. Britpop groups were primarily influenced by the music of the 60s and 70s, particularly British Invasion cornerstones like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. Classic Mod bands like The Who, The Kinks and The Small Faces were also cited as influences. Britpop last the better part of the last decade of the last century, but faded out approaching the millennium. Another source were 70s' glam idols such as David Bowie, T. Rex, Roxy Music, and punk and new wave artists like The Sex Pistols, Talking Heads, The Clash, The Jam, Madness, XTC, and Elvis Costello. The Indie rock outfits of the 80s exemplified by The Smiths, Depeche Mode, U2, Duran Duran, The Cure and R.E.M. were cited too. Britpop’s importance in modern British culture is exemplified by the fact that it was an independent movement, although not aimed or started as one. Its rise also coincided and hence, aided the concept of Cool Britannia, in the early and mid-90s.

NME Cover, 17December 1994. Dedicated to the rise of Britpop, naming the luminaries in the alternative music culture.
Origins Paul Weller, of the band The Jam is credited as the founding father of Britpop, christened “The Modfather” by indie music magazine, the New Music Express. His records Paul Weller (1991) and Wild Wood (1993) are considered seminal forces for the movements of the following years.

seeming to capture the "It" quality of London at the time. to be fair. Brit Art still packed a punch. similar terms for Wales and Scotland. The fashion world was fighting over McQueen and Galliano. There is a strong parallel between this and the catch-phrase "Swinging London" during the early years of Harold Wilson's Labour government. too.” McGuire also said. which came about with their election win in May 1997. Blur guitarist. Even as Art was drawing an older crowd in the West End. etc.Britpop and Cool Britannia The phrase "Cool Britannia" was first used in 1967 as a song title by the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. left field arty band to this amazing new pop sensation" (Live Forever. Blair didn't just represent the end of Tory dominance. The ice cream name and recipe was coined in early 1996 by an American lawyer living in London. and not just England. It was. "Cool Cymru" and "Cool Caledonia" respectively. had transformed the food available at London restaurants. On the streets you could see and hear the diversity that was transforming London at deeper levels. much richer than that. Parklife (1994) alongside other bands such as Suede. whether from Goa or Wellington or Dijon. as a winning entry in a Ben and Jerry's ice cream competition.” In the midst of this pseudo nationalistic movement. were also coined. Brit Pop was still a force. 2003). especially perhaps those middle Englanders who voted Labour for the first time. Her name for the ice cream as "Cool Britannia" was meant to presage the era of New Labour. but never gained any real popular currency (Harris. including Best Band and Best Album for Parklife. Pulp. into the uncharted 21st century. It helped that we had had a lovely summer and autumn. Although "Britannia" refers to the whole of the United Kingdom. Blur won four awards at the 1995 BRIT Awards. St Martin's College of Art. 2004). “But the moment was. Stryker McGuire. The electorate. “But remember: London in 1996 was a helluva town. a good time. A New Yorker could immediately identify with how fresh immigration and the newcomers' entrepreneurial abilities were rejuvenating and enriching London life and business. and a string of architectural projects was about to bring new life to the banks of the Thames. saw him as their skywalker. Sarah Moynihan-Williams. was the epicentre of London-as-Style. The election of Blair's government in 1997 on a platform of modernisation and with Blair as a relatively young Prime Minister gave the idea fresh currency. Graham Coxon later pointed to Parklife as the moment when "[Blur] went from being regarded as an alternative. the arrival of Britpop in the form of Oasis’ first album. Quoting the famous American journalist. their alma mater. the man who would lead post-imperial Britain. The phrase "Cool Britannia" reappeared in the mid-1990s as a registered trade mark for one of Ben & Jerry's ice-creams (vanilla with strawberries and chocolate-covered shortbread). he represented the beginning of something. post-Thatcher Britain. Definitely Maybe (1994) and Blur’s third album that landed them recognition. Immigrants. young people from around the world were gravitating to the city's new club scene. . who is credited to have brought the term Cool Britannia out in the public domain with his story in the 90s published in The Guardian. all in all. The phrase was quickly adopted in the media and in advertising.

In 1995 the Britpop movement reached its zenith. it wrapped the entire region and was established as a definitive British movement in musical and spiritual way (Haines. Advertising the heavyweight battle for the top spot in Britpop between Blur and Oasis. the "Battle" was headed by two groups . The famous “Battle of the Bands” found Blur and Oasis as prime contenders for the title “Kings of Britpop”.000 . Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics were Welsh. selling 274. Although the majority of the bands associated with Britpop were English. in the long-run.even featuring on the BBC News. although Blur's album received more critical acclaim (Harris. Blur won. Oasis' album (What's the Story) Morning Glory won the popular vote over Blur’s The Great Escape. . who were Irish descendants. and from Blur. Oasis' Single "Roll With It" and Blur's "Country House" were released in the same week.000 copies to Oasis' 216. 1995). Others like Travis and Belle and Sebastian were Scottish. Thus the movement and Britpop hysteria engulfed not just one province or city. There were also Irish acts and not to mention the infamous Gallagher brothers. In the end. The event caught the public's imagination and gained mass media attention . 2009). after some back-handed marketing. In the UK.NME Cover. This "Battle" was epitomised when. Oasis' second album is widely considered to be the definitive Britpop album capturing the essence of the attitude and the Cool Britannia movement. 12 August 1995.Oasis' brothers Noel and Liam Gallagher representing the North of England. Spurred on by the media. there were exceptions. However. Damon Albarn and Alex James representing the South (Richardson. Super Furry Animals. selling over eighteen million copies. 2004).the songs charting at number 1 and number 2 respectively. What's the Story spent over three times as long on the charts (a total of three years) and outsold Blur's album over four to one.

and continued to champion the more brash and punky groups. Select Magazine helped the upswing in British pride in April 1993. Select. lacking the overall spirit and sound of the movement in the following year – 1997 (Haines. Other baggy acts to slip back into mainstream acceptance during this period included Ocean Colour Scene and Shaun Ryder's post-Happy Mondays outfit Black Grape. 2003). Space and The Divine Comedy. 1995). British pride. The first of the new crop of guitar-oriented bands to be completely embraced by the UK music media as Britain's answer to Seattle's grunge sound was the Suede (known in America as “London Suede”).Mansun. being used extensively by NME. media hype and imagery as it was about the particular style of music was the movement’s sole description. The Bluetone. 2009). 2009). Supergrass. However. Pulp. Their self-titled first album was released in March 1993. Oasis and Suede gained much media attention for their use of alcohol and/or drugs. Torrindale. The Auteurs. Cast. though this was originally applied to the more punk-derivative acts such as Elastica. in the first instance Oasis. Bands like Blur. "Britpop" was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1997. The word subsequently entered the mainstream media. the release of new material by both The Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets that year saw the more melodic acts gain prominence. Other Britpop acts dominated the music weeklies in the next three years (1993-1995) . Its influence was recognised by an article in The Guardian in which the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary declared "Britpop" as the new word which best exemplified 1995. Saint Etienne and Pulp. it was not until 1994 when the term entered the popular consciousness. Elastica. The Boo Radleys. others such as the Boo Radleys already established acts that benefited from association with the movement (Haines. Demise of Britpop The movement and hysteria started to subside during the late 1996."Britpop" arose around the same time as the term "Britart" (which referred to the work of British modern artists such as Damien Hirst). Echobelly. S*M*A*S*H and These Animal Men (Harris. The deceleration was due to high expectations not being met and artistic burnout caused by the drug-fuelled lifestyles of the bands. Denim. and Q magazine. Primal Scream. By featuring Suede's lead singer Brett Anderson on the cover with a Union Jack in the background and the phrase "Yanks go home!" on the cover. The releases . Many releases would be ultimately disappointing. Melody Maker. and became the fastest-selling debut album in the history of the UK. This title was later claimed by Oasis with Definitely Maybe (Savage. Black Grape. The first stirrings of recognition by the music press came in the form of what the NME had dubbed the New Wave of New Wave (or 'NWONW') after this. Nevertheless. Sleeper. The issue included features on Suede. Some of them were new. The Auteurs. The music press was initially hesitant to recognise what it regarded as lesser acts even though the latter two bands quickly disappeared from the limelight. Shed Seven and Whiteout.

parting company with long-time producer Stephen Street and guitarist Graham Coxon in the process. which had previously centered on Pulp. It would take the release of Blur's second single.core initiators and leaders. leaving only the Gallagher brothers as original members from the Britpop era. before eventually calling it quits in 2003. The band . radically changed their sound with subsequent records and abandoned all semblance of the Britpop style. Blur continued to move away from the movement with their subsequent releases. Radiohead. When the movement showed signs of fading. Radiohead and the Verve released their respective 1997 landmark efforts OK Computer and Urban Hymns. arguably the driving force for much of the hype and hyperbole of the era.moved away from their old sound and their music began to assimilate American lo-fi influences. Even though Oasis remained popular amongst their fan base. The Verve. unlike Oasis. "Song 2".in particular Radiohead . Suede released two more albums in 1999 and 2002. partly because it showcased stylistic evolution for the band. Blur and Supergrass continued to make music and still are enjoying relative popularity among fans and critics. . particularly that of Pavement. though Radiohead had found commercial success their 1993 single "Creep" and commercial and critical success with 1995s The Bends (Harris. Suede. after losing key guitarist Nick McCabe. Radiohead. who had previously overlooked by media attention. The demise of Creation Records adequately summed up the period. never the band most strongly associated with the movement. 2004). Oasis and Blur.under the guidance of guitarist Graham Coxon rather than vocalist Damon Albarn . Blur and Oasis. not as common amongst the earlier Britpop acts. although attracting much hype and selling strongly. These two bands . They suffered the loss of founding members Bonehead and Guigsy in 1999 and drummer Alan White in 2004 while recording the follow-up in 1999. Notwithstanding the established acts struggle. it entered a hubristic period which saw the commercially and critically unsuccessful signings of white Rastafarian Mishka and an ageing Kevin Rowland to the label (Harris. both of which were and remain widely acclaimed. with frontman Damon Albarn telling the NME that the album was "English slacker". also split. A couple of years after Coxon left he realigned with Street to record his most successful solo records. Following the bubble created by Oasis which kept the label afloat. were key to the downturn in Britpop's fortunes. although their frontman Richard Ashcroft subsequently forged a successful solo career. in 1999. failed to stand the test of time and soon attracted strong criticism from critics. Pulp failed to follow up 1998's This Is Hardcore until 2001 with We Love Life after which they entered an extended hiatus from which they have yet to emerge. Blur's self-titled fifth album was very well received by critics. they entered a period of inactivity following Be Here Now. their new sound was not immediately well received by fans. record-buyers and Noel Gallagher himself for its "overproduced" and "bloated" sound. The movement gradually fell apart as the decade drew to a close.showed considerably more esoteric influences from the 1960s and 1970s. Despite the "fall" of Britpop a few established acts like Oasis. to win the record true commercial success and it soon shot back up the British charts (Mulvey. 2004). attention began to turn to the likes of Radiohead and The Verve. Oasis' third album Be Here Now. 1997). However.

That set the scene for their chart showdown the following summer . 2004) Tony Blair shares a joke with Noel Gallagher of Oasis at his official reception at 10. some of those bands were inspired by the confidence and success of the Britpop pioneers. the mass hysteria of Britpop during the Cool Britannia years is far from replicated. art and in a general sense of being British. Oasis had become part of the establishment that they had initially stood up against. 2009). Noel Gallagher performed at many of the Labour Party organized shows. (Harris. But they all became part of Britpop and helped the UK's alternative rock regain its voice. . in a way. The New Music Express and Melody Maker are examples of magazines that were byproducts of Britpop. Britpop icons. Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon became major marketing tools. Noel Gallagher was also instrumental in Tony Blair’s election as Prime Minister of Britain. and also was present at the official reception of Tony Blair as Prime Minister at 10. While others merely happened to come along at the same time. Business-wise. 1997. July. by being one of the pioneering Britpop bands. Menswear. Downing Street. Although a resurgence in Britpop has been seen in recent years with new bands on the scene. Inadvertently. and the cultural movement in place was used well by the Labour Party to stay in power. social commentary dressed as pop hits as Oasis enjoyed hits with rousing anthems Live Forever and Cigarettes and Alcohol. Sleeper and Dodgy to take the stage.The Legacy and Takeaways from Britpop Blur hit new heights with Girls and Boys and Parklife. Some publications go far enough to claim that Blair owes his entire political career to Gallagher (Rolling Stone. the Gallagher brothers.and for a new crop of acts like Supergrass. and the subsequent end of Cool Britannia as a phenomenon. and in the process rouse nationalistic sentiment that was echoed in fashion. the era of Britpop and Cool Britannia was a resurgent period in British album sales as well as related magazines. Downing Street. This was one of the defining moments in the fall and demise of Britpop.

anglobilia. With bands gaining mainstream popularity and changing musical direction. music. References Websites: 1. and soon from an independent alternative culture transformed into popular mainstream lifestyle.html Cool Britannia is now a thing of the past. wherein it lost most of its . http://www. 2. http://www. art and society at large.html/ 4.typepad. The cultural revolution engulfed fashion. but from experience on the visit to London. one can easily acknowledge that the marketing of the sentiment that it once aroused is still continuing. thus losing steam and direction. all that remained left over from the Britpop era were lessons in marketing a sub-culture to the extent that it replaces existent mainstream culture.Britpop Timeline Conclusion Britpop was an integral part of the revolutionization of Britain in the early to mid-90s.independent.

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