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Britpop is a style of music and a music movement from Great Britain that originated in the early 1990s and is characterized by a return to the traditions of British, guitar-heavy rock and pop music.

Noel Gallagher from Oasis

Background / abstract

One of the two most important sources is the British independent of the late 1980s with bands like The Stone Roses and The Smiths . However, in contrast to these bands, Britpop aims at a broad audience and therefore also ties in with the greats of pop music of the 1960s, such as The Beatles , The Kinks or The Rolling Stones . Well-known representatives of Britpop are Oasis , Blur and Radiohead . The former established themselves as one of the most successful bands in the rock scene until they broke up in 2009, as demonstrated on their last world tour in 2005/06, where they reached stadiums with up to 80,000 fans. Other representatives are The Verve , Pulp , Suede , Supergrass and Ash . Usually the groups come from England, prominent exceptions are e.g. B. Travis (Scotland) or the Welsh Manic Street Preachers .

The movement evolved in response to the various musical and cultural trends of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Acid house and the rise of hip-hop led to a renewed interest in the rhythmic songs of the independent , which led to the Madchester . This trend made the more traditional guitar music secondary. The shoegazing movement also went against the trend of psychedelic repetitive songs, which was heavily influenced by bands like The Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine .

Britpop saw itself in part as a countercurrent to US grunge . In the wake of the US invasion of bands such as Nirvana , Mudhoney , Pearl Jam , Soundgarden and Alice in Chains , some British bands sought to imitate grunge. Others continued to imitate the Madchester as part of the baggy movement. The British music press remained unaffected and continued to cheer established US bands such as Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth .

Origins and Influences

Morrissey, singer for the Smiths

The Britpop groups were very much influenced by guitar music of the 1960s and 1970s. The two rock 'n' roll trends of the British Invasion played a special role : the cornerstones of rock such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and the mod bands such as The Who , The Kinks and The Small Faces . The glam rockers of the 1970s and 1980s like David Bowie and T. Rex and the punk and new wave bands like the Sex Pistols , The Clash , Duran Duran , The Jam , The Police , Madness and the Buzzcocks were also relatively influential .

The independent bands of the 1980s such as The Smiths , The Jesus and Mary Chain and James were the direct predecessors of Britpop. The maiden movement was another major influence on Britpop. The movement was led by bands like The Stone Roses , Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets (for whom Noel Gallagher of Oasis was a roadie at the time). Another indirect influence was the C86 bands, who played mostly poppy independent guitar music. Many bands that were later grouped under the name Britpop, such as Primal Scream , started out as C86 bands.

Regardless of the declared disdain between shoegazing and grunge at the time, some elements from both styles went into consistent aspects of Britpop. Noel Gallagher has always been an advocate of Ride (whose ex-member Andy Bell later played with Oasis) as the main origin of Britpops, while The Boo named Radleys Dinosaur Jr. as the source of Britpops.

Although the movement came to the fore in 1994, it remains undetermined when it began. Because of its great influence on later bands, the Stone Roses' debut album, released in 1989, is considered the first Britpop album. Noel Gallagher claims that The La’s debut album was the first Britpop album. Others also attribute this honor to the debut album by Oasis, that of Suede or Modern Life is Rubbish by Blur .


Weller, "The Modfather" and Blur with "Modern Life is Rubbish" (1991–1993)

Paul Weller, the "Modfather"

Paul Weller is particularly praised as one of the initiators of the movement. His solo albums Paul Weller (1991) and Wild Wood (1993) are considered a fundamental force of movement. His influence on Britpop and the connection to the revival of the mod earned him the nickname The Modfather . He offered the bands a guide through his recordings, but also performed with many Britpop bands. Simon Fowler and Damon Minchella from Ocean Color Scene were playing in his backing band and Weller played in the Britpop song Champagne Supernova by Oasis guitar.

Another key figure in the creation of Britpop was Blur . While Weller contributed fashion elements to Britpop, Blur brought early media attention and chart success with her album Modern Life is Rubbish . The album slowly moved the sound of Blur from the shoegazing of their debut album Leisure to the squiggly pop sound, which is based on the quirks of The Kinks . In retrospect, Modern Life is Rubbish contained many text, harmony, chord and sound elements, as well as the resolute vocals that later became typical of Britpop.

The mod scene has had a huge impact on many bands, whether music or fashion, including Blur , Ocean Color Scene and Menswe @ r .

Britpop and the Cool Britannia Movement (1994–1996)

Oasis concert 2005

The term Britpop has been used around 1987 when it was coined in Sounds magazine . The term Britpop came about at the same time as the term Britart . Nevertheless, the term only in 1994 came into the mass consciousness as he intensively by magazines such as NME , Melody Maker , Select, and Q was used. The word slowly conquered the mass media. The word's great fame was particularly evident when an article appeared in The Guardian in which an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary claimed that the term Britpop would best describe 1995. Britpop was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1997.

In April 1993, Select magazine gave British pride a boost when a picture of Suede singer Brett Anderson with the Union Jack in the background and the phrase "Yanks go home!" Appeared on the cover of the magazine. The issue featured articles on Suede, The Auteurs , Denim , Saint Etienne and Pulp . In the years that followed, English bands dominated music magazines. For the most part, these were new bands, but established bands associated with the Britpop movement also benefited from this fact.

Then came the first waves of recognition from the music press for what New Musical Express called the New Wave of New Wave . In the beginning this meant more punk bands like Elastica , S * M * A * S * H and These Animal Men . Although the latter two faded from the spotlight pretty quickly, the music press was hesitant in recognizing the bands it classified as unknown bands. These included Oasis, Shed Seven, and Whiteout . However, when The Charlatans and Inspiral Carpets released new albums, the other bands that followed a more melodic style got more press recognition.

Jarvis Cocker, singer with Pulp

Britpops fans argue about which album helped the movement break through. Oasis' debut album Definitely Maybe , Blur's third album Parklife and Suede by Suede are candidates for (all published in 1994). These albums defined the Britpop movement and paved the way for many more bands. The album His 'n' Hers by Pulp was also released at this time, however, Pulp reached only the published 1995 album Different Class mainstream success.

The movement was about music, British pride, media hype and the image of the bands. Suede was the first of the band in the new style of music that was traded by the British music press in response to the US grunge from Seattle . The Suede debut album became the fastest selling debut album in UK history. However, this title later had to be given to Definitely Maybe by Oasis .

In 1995 the Britpop movement reached its peak. The famous Battle of the Bands named Blur and Oasis as the main contenders for the Kings of Britpop title . Spurred on by the media, a struggle developed between two groups: Noel and Liam Gallagher , who represented the north of England and more workers and low-wage earners, and Damon Albarn and Alex James, who represented the south and thus the more educated middle class. The competition was embodied by the fact that Oasis and Blur released their singles Roll with It and Country House at the same time. This is how the contest gained mass media attention and made it onto BBC News. When the competition went into the second round, Pulp competed with her single Common People against Trash and Beautiful Ones by Suede.

In the end, Blur won the battle with 274,000 records sold, followed by Oasis with 216,000 singles sold. The songs consistently occupied chart positions one and two. For a long time, however, the album (What's the Story) won Morning Glory? by Oasis and sold four times more than Blur's album The Great Escape . (What's the Story) Morning Glory? sold a total of over 18,000,000 copies, making it number two on British albums. Oasis’s second album is seen by many as the Britpop album par excellence. It was in the UK for some time popular on the question "What's the story?" (German?: What's up) with "Morning Glory" to answer.

The Verve

During this time, the Labor Party's new, young leader , Tony Blair , was seen rising. Blair embodied the dreams and desires of the British counterculture and many bands like Oasis and Blur admired him. Noel Gallagher also appeared on several public dates and expressed his support for Tony Blair.

In addition to Oasis, Blur, Pulp and Suede, other Britpop bands released singles and albums in 1995 that captured the essence of the movement and adopted the attitude of the cool Britannia movement . These bands included Supergrass , Cast and Radiohead . The Cool Britannia movement was also symbolized by popular summer hits from bands like Dodgy , Sleeper , The Boo Radleys and Echobelly . In 1995 The Verve released their album A Northern Soul . However, the album flopped and resulted in the band breaking up. For the album Urban Hymns in 1997 The Verve got together again - at least for a short time.

The mass media christened the movement "Third British Invasion" (German: Third British Invasion) because the movement enjoyed such great popularity among the population and certain influences from the various currents were reflected in the music of the bands. This led to conflicts between the bands, some of which were provoked by the media.


The 1996 BRIT Awards were a celebration of Britpop with many nominated Britpop bands. The award ceremony was full of the rivalry between Oasis and Blur. When Oasis won the award for the best British album, the Gallagher brothers mocked Blur with a drunken performance of their biggest hit Parklife , with Liam Gallagher changing the text to "Shite-Life". Oasis also won the Best British Video Award. Both awards were won by Blur the previous year. Paul Weller won the award for best male artist for the second year in a row in 1996 and Supergrass won the award for best newcomer band. The celebration was packed with high profile performances, but it was pulp front man Jarvis Cocker who stole the show when he took the stage during Michael Jackson's performance and voiced his displeasure. Jarvis Cocker was arrested and soon released.

Although most of the Britpop bands came from England , there were a few exceptions. Super Furry Animals , Space , Catatonia , Gorky's Zygotic Mynci , Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics were from Wales ; The Gyres , The Supernaturals , Travis and Belle and Sebastian were from Scotland . This led local media to label bands with "Cool Cymru" and "Cool Caledonia", based on Cool Britania . Despite being accused of being south-east focused, Britpop grew into a truly British music and cultural movement.

The end of the movement (1997–1999)

At the end of 1996, the hysteria around the movement receded, which was due to the fact that the high expectations of the fans were not met and the bands were finished because of their drug excesses. Bands like Blur , Oasis and Suede gained a lot of media attention due to their massive alcohol and drug use. The 1997 releases of the movement's leaders, Oasis and Blur, were key to the Britpop's downward movement. The third album by Oasis Be Here Now sold very well in the beginning, but over time it could no longer withstand the criticism of fans, journalists and Noel Gallagher himself. Blur's fifth album Blur was better received by the critics because, unlike Oasis, it showed a stylistic development of the band. Even so, fans didn't immediately embrace Blur's new sound. The band moved away from their original sound to a style influenced by American low fidelity . This new sound from Blur only found great approval with the fans with the release of the single Song 2 , which became a surprising global hit.


While the well-known struggled, bands like Radiohead and The Verve now came into the focus of the media, although Radiohead had successful singles before. These two bands, especially Radiohead, showed significantly more esoteric influences from the 1960s and 1970s than any other Britpop band. When the Britpop movement faded in 1997, Radiohead and The Verve released their albums OK Computer and Urban Hymns , respectively , which gained wide acclaim.

When the movement slowed down, many bands were on shaky legs. Although some bands found success with more demanding albums, such as For example, Pulp with This Is Hardcore , Supergrass with In It for the Money or Cornershop with When I Was Born for the 7th Time , many bands could not withstand the pressure and split up or disappeared into oblivion. Elastica fell victim to its own drug use and was unable to release a new album for four years after the 1995 album. Menswe @ r could not bring out another album after their debut album and separated. Bands like Cast , Ocean Color Scene , The Bluetones and Shed Seven continued to release albums, but without commercial success. Likewise, many new bands that were signed during Britpophypes weren't good enough to make the charts.

At the end of the decade, the movement broke up. Blur continued the path away from Britpop with the following releases. Frontman Damon Albarn also founded the group Gorillaz with tank girl artist Jamie Hewlett . Oasis remained popular with fans but got into an inactive period after the release of Be Here Now . During the recording for the next album Paul Arthurs and Paul McGuigan separated from the band. In 2004 long-time drummer Alan White left the band, leaving only the Gallagher brothers as band members from the Britpop era. Suede released two more albums before leaving the music business in 2003. Pulp released another album in 2001 after a three-year hiatus and then disappeared again from the scene. The Verve split after Nick McCabe left the band, and Richard Ashcroft embarked on a successful solo career. Although the greats of the Britpop band went under, Supergrass was able to continue making music that was well received by critics and fans alike.

Britpop today


Even if Britpop has been declared dead by some, Britpop "veterans" like Oasis, Ash or Travis with numerous new releases as well as newer bands like Keane or Starsailor are still very successful today. In addition, a new wave of guitar sound and indie music has been rolling across the British Isles since the beginning of 2005. The new heroes are, for example, Muse , Franz Ferdinand , Maxïmo Park , Arctic Monkeys , The Kooks , The Libertines or the Babyshambles , The Fratellis , Kaiser Chiefs , Editors , Bloc Party , The Futureheads , Razorlight and Hard-Fi . Franz Ferdinand set off an avalanche with their Rock / BritPop in 2003, from which the youngest bands were inspired. These extremely successful and energetic artists, highly praised by local music magazines, suggest that Britpop is going through a renaissance. Bands from other countries that use Britpop styles are also enjoying increasing success - while indie / alternative groups such as The Strokes and The Dandy Warhols (USA) used to experience The Killers and the Kings of Leon from the USA or Mando Diao from Sweden Flying high - these music styles are mainstream and are being played more and more often on popular radio stations. Characteristic for the new Britpop bands or the musical development of existing bands are mainly synthesizer influences that make "Britrock" danceable. This is why today there is often a mixture of electro / electro-pop styles, so that bands use new, sometimes self-proclaimed names such as " electro rock" or "indie noise" (such as Chikinki ). The successes give old Britpop bands a reason to reunite ( Blur , The Verve ). Oasis, however, has since disbanded.

Timeline of some Britpop bands

Bands shown in green have disbanded. Bands shown in orange were still active after 2012. The bands that have significantly shaped Britpop are listed.

The Kooks Menswe@r The Auteurs Brett Anderson The Tears Jarvis Cocker Pulp (Band) Supergrass Manic Street Preachers The Verve Richard Ashcroft The Verve Elastica Suede Oasis Blur Blur

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Paul Moody: Blur: 'We were young, good-looking and in the best band in the world' . In: The Guardian . March 5, 2014, ISSN  0261-3077 ( [accessed June 22, 2019]).