Jun 13

Friday Poll Special – The Great Britpop Sorting Hat!

FT215 comments • 9,522 views

We are now firmly into the BRITPOP YEARS on Popular, oh yes, so it’s time to consider its musical legacy in the only language we truly understand, viz. a ticky-box poll.

We have selected 32 bands who someone, somewhere, might possibly have once described as Britpop. Tick all the ones you like and by science we will be able to finally, once and for all, define terms like “Britpop D-List” and “second divison Britpop”. Isn’t that a noble endeavour? I thought so.

Which of these Britpop bands were Any Good At All?

  • Pulp 70%
  • Blur 64%
  • Kenickie 53%
  • Suede 52%
  • Supergrass 48%
  • Elastica 47%
  • Super Furry Animals 44%
  • Ash 43%
  • The Divine Comedy 39%
  • Oasis 35%
  • Boo Radleys 30%
  • Lush 30%
  • Bluetones 28%
  • Catatonia 25%
  • Mansun 24%
  • Sleeper 24%
  • Black Grape 23%
  • Lightning Seeds 21%
  • Gene 21%
  • Longpigs 19%
  • Echobelly 18%
  • Shed Seven 16%
  • Space 14%
  • Ocean Colour Scene 14%
  • WELLER 14%
  • Kula Shaker 13%
  • Cast 11%
  • Menswear 11%
  • My Life Story 11%
  • Marion 8%
  • Seahorses 8%
  • Northern Uproar 3%

Total Voters: 1,496

Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 151
    Cumbrian on 2 Jul 2013 #

    148: I have just checked both my recent posts. I have used we once. The missing words are “I think” in between “that” and “we” in the relevant sentence. Can you take them as read?

    The questions you raise in your third paragraph are interesting. I’ve done about 10 years now in Market Research (indeed, I first became aware of Tom – not that I know him, I know of him – through his day job and meandered into this site out of pure interest) and have looked through quite a few projects that talk about human desire to impose order on chaos, to try to generate further understanding of – even communality with – people who share a similar sense of order. Principally this was to do with my job – in order to actually make sense of masses of data for clients and help them take good courses of action, elements of sorting are needed. I found it interesting how much sorting was going on elsewhere when I stopped to think about it though.

    Of course, things don’t HAVE to be sorted. Nevertheless, I’ve tended to find some people find sorting helpful, so that they can start to form opinions about things. It also helps these people when others go through their lives helpfully sorting themselves (it allows us to form opinions about them – for instance, all of those guys going on EDL marches have helpfully sorted themselves into a group that I know I don’t want anything to do with, except to stand in opposition against them and the beliefs – and decide on actions that we might want to take) and sorting other objects (so that it is more easy to find them, etc).

    Looking at the list provided and then doing some sort of helpful sorting exercise can be helpful. For instance, my opinion of people who comment here is pretty high and, frankly, I think this is sort of a niche site that is likely (again, I think) to attract similar visitors to those who comment. Going through the exercise at 143 allows me to say to myself – maybe I should give Kenickie another listen – after all, a bunch of people who I think know what they’re talking about seem to have a high enough opinion of them that they might be as good as bands that I know I like (and indeed to be close to one of the leading lights of a particular musical scene, so listening to and trying to understand this might help me understand more about Britpop). I think this is helpful. You may think otherwise.

    On one level, though the aesthete in each of us would decry the notion, music can benefit from being looked at as a meat packing warehouse for some people – it’s about understanding what goes into certain neat boxes of music and why you might or might not connect with what is in those boxes. More deeply, particularly for younger people, it’s one of the markers (along with fashion and taste in books, TV, and myriad other things) that helps give kids a sense of both themselves and how they might relate to their friends, which groups they are interested in being part of and so on. This stuff is not new – Teddy Boys, Mods and Rockers, all of that falls into the same category. Once I’ve got a group, I’ve inevitably got things and people that lie more on the edge of the group; these are also interesting, in my opinion – as things that are on the fringes, if explored, might lead me to more interesting discoveries, widen my horizons and so on.

    I guess, put another way, I use FT as a site that interests me, certainly, but there are sites that operate on the fringes that link away from it (some are more fringe than others – most sites have similar agenda but are run by different people). One of these links lead me to TPL. TPL allows me to look at music in a different way, because it’s written differently, explores different music and expands my ideas about what is going on. By moving away from the middle of the FT group and towards a fringe, I’m helping myself – understand more, experience more and develop more. But helpfully, the site has sorted itself to allow me to work out what those fringes are (by use of the links) – and by hanging around long enough, I can work out who those fringes are being written by, so I can work out my likely interest level.

    I don’t know whether this stuff answers your questions. It probably doesn’t! Nevertheless, I’ve given it a stab in good faith. I don’t think it is about being afraid of myself, not do I think people who do sorting exercises are necessarily afraid of themselves. What I do think is that, for some, it is a viable way for making sense of the world and allowing themselves to understand, not just other people, but how they might expand their own experiences in ways that interest them. In this sense, sorting can be useful.

  2. 152
    Cumbrian on 2 Jul 2013 #

    148/150: Ah – as I was away for the weekend, I didn’t realise that the poll was being re-tweeted and thus that there were new visitors to the site. I guess that puts a bit of a different slant on what I wrote in para 4 of, what now seems to be, a bloody huge post. Apologies for rambling.

    Nevertheless, the poll has forced me to think more about Kenickie than I previously would have done. In a quiet moment later today, hopefully I will be able to dig out their stuff from some corner of the internet.

  3. 153
    James BC on 2 Jul 2013 #

    I didn’t refer to myself as “we” either. “We’re drawing lines” referred to Cumbrian and me: we both were.

    Anyway, sorry everyone. I thought bringing up categories would be a bit of fun. Whatever the above eight posts are, they don’t look like fun to me.


  4. 154
    punctum on 2 Jul 2013 #

    Fun is one of the most serious things known to man!

    #150: very good answer/explanation – it’s amazing how the Kenickie fanbase has sustained over the past 15 years or so. The general Lauren Laverne effect?

  5. 155
    Cumbrian on 2 Jul 2013 #

    I would guess that it is a Lauren Laverne effect to an extent. That said, there might be something else there in terms of the type and and intensity of fandom that Kenickie had/have.

    I remember, for instance, The Bluetones soldiering on for years being able to sell out reasonably sized halls because their fans were incredibly loyal (and given what I have learned about the tweeting of the poll, it makes me wonder whether anyone did similar to a Bluetones account/fandom and my memory is faulty – in that they didn’t turn up – or whether your average Bluetones fan is unaware of this poll).

    I have finally turfed up some Kenickie. On with the listening, whilst I write up some data.

  6. 156
    Tom on 2 Jul 2013 #

    Lauren Laverne didn’t tweet, I should say – in the pub on Friday this was described as the nuclear option (i.e. Kenickie would win the poll, and the site would probably crash). I get quite excited about big spikes of hits, which is silly given that we’re not an ad-supported site so eyeballs don’t matter: regular views and interaction are what keep us going.

  7. 157
    Tom on 2 Jul 2013 #

    When we were drawing up the shortlist, someone (Cis I think) said that she bracketed Kenickie in a different box from a lot of the rest, more of a fanzine thing. This is true, I think: the Britpop era is when I was reading zines a fair bit and most of them had a completely different set of values and pantheon. But it seemed to me like Kenickie fitted in a way Bis (mentioned above too) didn’t.

  8. 158
    punctum on 2 Jul 2013 #

    No Charlatans? I suppose strictly speaking they belong in a Madchester poll but there was significant Britpop overlap, I think. Not that I ever found them anything more than dreary, mind.

  9. 159
    Ed on 2 Jul 2013 #

    Never mind good / bad, league tables, World Cups etc.

    I am still waiting for someone to live up to the promise of the headline, and assign Britpop bands to their appropriate Hogwarts houses.

  10. 160
    thefatgit on 2 Jul 2013 #

    Northern Uproar = Hufflepuff!

  11. 161
    Mark M on 2 Jul 2013 #

    Re 157: I think that Kenickie were (among many other things), the 1990s version of Fuzzbox, but also – by way of support for your/possibly Cis’ argument – when they first arrived they seemed related to the poppier end of British riot grrl (which overall was poppier than the American stuff, anyway), most obviously represented by the Voodoo Queens.

    The sleeve for Come Out 2 Nite is definitely on the fanzine/RG tip, while the cover for the first album is very Britpop.

    What connects them to Britpop, what connects Maconie’s original notion to an archetypal fully formed Britpop moment like Inbetweener, is a return to specificity, a rejection of the shoegazers’ mantra of ‘we don’t want our lyrics to be pinned down – they can mean whatever you want them to mean.’

  12. 162
    Ed on 2 Jul 2013 #

    #161 If you’re right that comprehensible lyrics are a defining characteristic of Britpop – and I think you are – then where does that leave Oasis? As discussed on the Some Might Say thread, their lyrics are either convincingly delivered gibberish or artfully elusive, but never specific.

    It’s another reason – on top of the massive guitar sound and the crap rhythm section- why Oasis are really the apotheosis of shoegaze. They’re just looking at the ceiling, not the floor.

    Maybe Oasis weren’t really Britpop at all?

  13. 163
    Andrew Farrell on 2 Jul 2013 #

    Kenickie also benefit from getting in and out quick – one album brilliant from head to toe (if you’re a fan), one still very good if a little mellower, and that’s your lot. That they tend to get buried in the history of Britpop has I think only honed their fans’ ardour. Also they were brilliant.

  14. 164
    flahr on 2 Jul 2013 #

    #162 – I tend to think of Oasis as more of a grunge/post-grunge band.

  15. 165
    Ed on 2 Jul 2013 #

    #162 Think maybe I meant “artfully allusive”. Oh well, both work.

  16. 166
    swanstep on 3 Jul 2013 #

    OK, have finally got around to checking out some Kenickie on youtube,…and I’m quite impressed; good, tight songs, and very charming and amusing in interviews. Of course they’re at least somewhat good!

  17. 167
    Cumbrian on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Having sought out and listened to Kenickie in response to this, I’d say that they definitely meet the criteria for voting for them in this poll. Definitely better than I remembered (I thought they gave good interviews – as Swanstep mentions – but that was the main positive I had in my head about them) and enjoyed the obvious Mackem accent, which gives them a bit of a different spin to the other acts.

    Re: Oasis, I have said before and will repeat now – I don’t think they were Britpop. I think they’re stadium rock, mostly due to the anthemic choruses (though I can hear why people think of them as grunge/post grunge – Husker Du references in the SMS thread – or a bit shoegaze).

  18. 168
    tm on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Noel G always used to acknowledge Nirvana’s influence on Oasis, saying they were largely resposible for Oasis adding the wall of guitar noise to their early, pre-Creation, Roses-inspired sound (check Noel’s demo of Live Forever for the jangly, young Oasis http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jmC3553Q3Fo&safe=active)

    There’s definitely shoegaze in there too, especially on the outros of their early stuff.

  19. 169
    tm on 3 Jul 2013 #
  20. 170
    tm on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Fatgit @ 60: Who is Slytherin? Oasis? Kula Shaker? Damon?

  21. 171
    thefatgit on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Slytherin? First instincts are Black Grape, Oasis and Suede. I’m not applying any logic whatsoever to these choices.

    Gryffindor: Blur, Kenickie and Supergrass.

    Ravenclaw: Elastica, Gene and The Divine Comedy.

    WELLER is Dumbledore.

  22. 172
    tm on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Grumbledore more like…arf, arf…

  23. 173
    thefatgit on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Of course, He Who Must Not Be Named (in relation to Britpop, hence not on the list) released Southpaw Grammar in 1995.

  24. 174
    Conrad on 3 Jul 2013 #

    Wot, no Reef?

    The Kenickie placing rather skews things, but other than that it isn’t a very surprising list – so far.

    The jarvis Cocker factor must surely influence how Pulp are thought of, and why not.

    I’d have stuck the Verve in there, if only to give them a good kicking, but I guess that opportunity will come along soon enough.

    The only records from that list I can still listen to now are the first elastica album, the first two suede, the first two supergrass and a bit of (a) blur.

    And the middle 8 of Love is the law may be the single most rubbish thing I’ve ever heard.

    Britpop supergroup

    Danny from supergrass – drums
    Bernard B – lead guitar
    the bass player from kula shaker – er, bass
    Justine and Damon – lead vocals, how romantic

  25. 175
    flahr on 3 Jul 2013 #

    I love Suede’s third album! “The Chemistry Between Us”, “Picnic By The Motorway”, it’s all so wonderfully grand. But then I love “Stay Together” as well.

    (In fact, Coming Up > Sci-Fi Lullabies > Suede. I’ve still never actually listened to Dog Man Star aside from “Introducing the Band” so I can’t say where it fits in)

  26. 176
    23 Daves on 3 Jul 2013 #

    I love “Coming Up” as well, and I think it and “Dog Man Star” excellently showcased two different sides of the band’s personality, although I’m sure “Coming Up” didn’t have that concept behind it and was probably just intended to put them back in the commercial game. It’s just a shame that most of the rest of their output feels so inessential (half of “Suede” is great, but it sounds far patchier than a lot of people seem to give it credit for).

    Still, two fantastic albums in one career is a much better tally than most bands manage.

  27. 177
    Rory on 3 Jul 2013 #

    For me it fits here: Coming Up > Dog Man Star > Bloodsports > everything else.

  28. 178
    swanstep on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Heh, the discussion of Kenickie here has introduced me to a new word ‘mackem’. Its Urban Dictionary definitions are hilarious.

  29. 179
    Ed on 4 Jul 2013 #

    #168 “Noel G always used to acknowledge Nirvana’s influence on Oasis….”

    I’d never heard that. It’s a great fact. Heraclitus would have loved it:

  30. 180
    The Riverboat Captain on 4 Jul 2013 #

    Wot, no Manics?

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