April 7, 2014 by Colin Kelly
I’ll never forget it.
A Saturday morning in summer 1994 and I’m in the car with my Dad. Probably going to B+Q.
Radio 1 is on (Matthew Bannister was just getting going with his modernisation process) and it was Danny Baker’s first show on the station.
‘That’s just utter rubbish!’, my Dad exclaimed as he reached for the off switch.
The utter rubbish?
‘Girls And Boys’ by Blur.
For me, that’s the song that ushered in the BritPop era. I love it and even my Dad has been known to hum along when he hears it now!
I love music far too much to decide on an all time favourite BritPop anthem. But as we celebrate 20 years since ‘Parklife’ and ‘Definitely Maybe’ came out, here, in no particular order, are 10 Top BritPop anthems.
Oasis – Champagne Supernova. An amazing track to close the band’s second album and perhaps the absolute highpoint of the BritPop scene. The perfect tune that sums up how we all felt. I remember the first time I listened to this and immediately put it on repeat. With ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’ we already knew Oasis were a different league. But this gave the entire scene an anthem. It’s Hey Jude for my generation.
Supergrass – Alright. The long hot summer of 1995. I was learning to drive, waiting for my Higher results and suffering horrendous hayfever. On top of that, I spent the entire month of June presenting a 6 hour overnight show on a Christian radio station. (Seemed like a good idea at the time). And dealing with unrequited love. Fair to say I was in a little bit of sleep deprived turmoil! But everytime I heard this things got a little easier for a few minutes.
Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song. TFI Friday with Chris Evans quickly became the destination for the BritPop scene and the show that signalled the start of the weekend. He used the intro to this to bring on the guests. Brilliant.
Oasis – Wonderwall. And some thought Noel was just a lout. One of the finest songs ever written.
Boo Radleys – Wake Up Boo! I set my alarm for 0630 when Chris Evans took over the Radio 1 Breakfast Show. It was the start of a new era and these first few glorious months featured this song heavily. As far as I’m concerned, Chris Evans did more for BritPop than any other non-musician. His enthusiasm for the music and the culture and the exposure and support he gave the bands on his radio and television programmes was of key importance.
Sleeper – Inbetweener. As BritPop gathered momentum and all these great new bands emerged, I decided my hospital radio programme should feature them and essentially give me the opportunity to play whatever I wanted. I managed to convince the bosses and enjoyed a 2 hour slot every Sunday afternoon playing songs like this to an audience of (mostly) geriatrics. Post BritPop careers are always very interesting and I’m pleased someone as talented and gorgeous as Louise Wener is doing so well for herself these days.
Skunk Anansie – Hedonism. So back to that unrequited love from earlier. She’s now my wife and mum to my 2 sons, so it’s funny how things work out. Anyway, I’d go round her house and she’d play some songs. I’d come from more of a dance/pop background and she was always more into indie tunes so a lot of BritPop I’d hear from her in the first instance. This is one of these tunes. The album has been playing away in the background, then this came on and stopped me (and my chat up efforts) in my tracks.
Primal Scream – Rocks. I still play this when I DJ and it never fails to pack the floor. Worth reading the book by their manager Alan McGee. It brilliantly covers the key years of BritPop and lots that happened before and after, from another key figure in the scene.
Only once in my life have I bought NME, and it was the week Blur and Oasis went head to head for Number 1. Everyone had a favourite they were backing. I kept changing my mind. If I felt hard and angry, I’d go for Oasis. If I felt moody and intelligent, I’d back Blur. Such was the conflict in my 17 year old head! Truth is, I bought both and love both to this day. At a push, I’d say this is the better song, but the passion and energy on ‘Roll With It’ means it should have won.
Actually, listening to these again I’ve realised I DO have an all-time favourite BritPop anthem. I remember the night it reached Number 1 a few weeks before my 17th birthday. It still lifts me up. It’s this: