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date: 09 December 2019

Britpoplocked

  • David Buckley

Extract

A term first used in the British music press around 1992 to describe the indigenous talent emerging in the wake of the commercial success of American grunge and ‘slacker’ youth culture. These groups, such as Suede and Elastica, performed playful, indie-inspired guitar-based pop. By 1995 intense media rivalry existed between Manchester’s Oasis and London’s Blur, as the two groups briefly brought back a sense of competition not seen in pop since the days of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. Indeed, nostalgia was a key element of the Britpop boom, as rock artists reasserted ‘songwriterly’ values and traditional rock instrumentation in the aftermath of the hegemonic influence of acid house in the late 1980s. Significantly Britpop was used almost exclusively to describe white English musicians who played guitar-based, 1960s-influenced pop: Oasis were dubbed Britpop, but the black trip hop artist Tricky was not, despite his mainstream success. By 1996 new and more derivative groups such as Kula Shaker, The Verve and Ocean Colour Scene played what their detractors dubbed ‘Dad-rock’, a less threatening and more complex homage to 1960s and 70s icons such as Traffic and Paul Weller, which demonstrated that the initial energy of the Britpop scene was dying out. By the late 1990s the quintessential Britpop group Blur had taken to recording grunge-inspired music which resembled the sort of American music Britpop had once united against. Significantly none of the Britpop groups really broke into the lucrative American market....

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