Britpop Definitions Please

 
  • Britpop Definitions Please

    Over the last couple of days there have been two long lists of artists that people were suggesting that should be added to the connections list. Someone even suggested Radiohead shouldn't be included. This got me thinking on what criteria should bands be judged as being included as a Britpop band?

    Here are some of my thoughts. Please comment and add your own and perhaps we'll get a consensus (yeah, right).

  • 1) The artist needs to be British, or have a significant British element.

  • 2) The artist needs to have released an album, or significant single, during the period accepted as the Britpop era. This for me was from 1994 until 1998.

    Therefore The Stone Roses are included for Second Coming, but the Happy Mondays and the Smiths are not, despite their obvious influence on Britpop artists. If we start tracing lines of influence, we could end up with almost every rock/pop artist ever.

  • 3) The artist must have been "Popular". This is where lines start getting hazy, cos I'm defining Popular as me having of heard of them. I'm not huge on Britpop, but reckon that I have a reasonable knowledge of the groups that were around at that time.

  • 4) The artist's sound must be Britpop.

    Now what this means is anyone's guess. If limited to the classic Britpop sound, then the list would be pretty boring. And what was the Britpop sound anyway? Guitar based?

    This one for me isn't that important. Britpop was more about the era than the sound and a lot of artists , such as Radiohead, although not of the classic Britpop sound, were definitely part of the British Popular music scene of the time, and made it what it was.

  • Fair enough.

    "I am the Badger King, I can do anything..."
  • 1) The artist needs to be British, or have a significant British element.

    Agreed! LOL! Otherwise we would really go off tangent and start adding Deep Blue Something (which in my opinion was the closest the US ever got to BritPop).

    2) The artist needs to have released an album, or significant single, during the period accepted as the Britpop era. This for me was from 1994 until 1998.

    Fair enough I guess, I could alway set up my own group for the influences of BritPop lol, poor The La's, The Happy Mondays and The Smiths are in the rain lol. Nah I don't mind.

    Though I personally believe BritPop started more towards 1993, cus that was where things starting changing, you had bands like Suede, Manic Street Preachers, Levellers, Radiohead, etc flexing their fingers with albums, EPs and singles, warming up the climate in the charts. 1994 was more like the official change over from grunge to BritPop.

    3) The artist must have been "Popular". This is where lines start getting hazy, cos I'm defining Popular as me having of heard of them. I'm not huge on Britpop, but reckon that I have a reasonable knowledge of the groups that were around at that time.

    Lol yeah I agree that's one hazy line, more classic London foggy in fact! I'm not sure if popular is an important criteria, if it wasn't that the word 'BritPop' is pretty much defeated. Well we find it quite popular among us *cheesy smile* well I know I love it.

    Can we measuring it? By the number of people who have heard of the band? By their penetration in the charts? Nah cus if you ask people who Shed Seven are they will look at you blankly or assume you meant 7 Up or something. And the highest they ever got in the singles chart was 8. But clearly they are as BritPop as the Union Jack soaked in coca-cola.

    4) The artist's sound must be Britpop.


    Yeah I agree that one isn't important or even defineable. It is pretty much about the era of music and the bands that were part of (or got caught up in) BritPop.

    Genre terms never always mean what you think.
    Indie is often referred to a type of rock, where in truth it was originally about bands on independant labels.
    What the hell is punk? Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Ramones, Blondie and The Jam are often known as punk yet they all sound completely different from each other.
    What's alternative? Alternative to what? (as the rather tiring out phrase goes).

    So yeah BritPop is very much a mixture of factors that has resulted in Pulp, Levellers, The Bluetones, Radiohead, Manic Street Preachers, Oasis, Blur, etc all being piled into one catagory, a very bunch to put in the same place yes but you gotta admit it would make one hell of an exciting festival line-up. :-D

    Wai-Tung Leung
    Edited by Wai_TungLeung on 18 May 2005, 18:36
  • 4) The artist's sound must be Britpop.

    If you think this is the most unimportant factor, I think you are very wrong.

    A genre is (nearly) always defined by its sound. Britpop was popular in the britpop era, but that doesn't mean that an album made last year couldn't be britpop. I know a -not wellknown- Dutch band (Flemming) that made an album in 2000 that sounds incredibly britpop, and in fact, it is britpop. I think Flemming (and there are many other bands) is a britpop bands that prove that the rules 1,2 and 3 are wrong.

    Conclusion:
    For a band to be britpop they should:
    - not necessarely be known or popular
    - not necessarely be from the britpop era
    - not be british
    - sound britpop

    The hardest part is to define what the britpop sound is like.
    I think it should be guitar based, have catchy hooks and have an overall poppy sound and indeed have a british element (like an English sounding singer). There are more elements but I can't come up with them.

    Here you can read more about Britpop:
    http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&token=ADFEAEE47B17DC4BAB7420D2933B41DBBE72F106DC63E38F162F451BDFBA3C548B0473F54FF78C91FDFF6AB570B0FD2EA45F43D2C0EF56F6DE602D5DF0&sql=77:2681

  • I can understand the Pop bit, but I don't see how a band can be BritPop if they ain't British! To me that would be defeating the name and the impression it gives, of Britain back on their feet during the 90's and producing some very jumpy guitar records.

    Wai-Tung Leung
  • The "Brit" part of britpop doesn't say a britpop band is british, it states that the band sounds british. It's only called britpop because the genre started in britain. It's like the genre progressive rock (and many other genres). If a band plays music that sounds like a progressive rock band of the 60/70's they play progressive rock, even if it isn't considered to be progressive nowadays.

  • I think that there are valid arguments to what the Britpop sound was - however, they're arguments for a different group. The most important aspect for me is that the band released an album in the self-defined Britpop era. As put in the summary for this group, the aim is to gauge the changes in musical taste of the people who were growing up (anywhere between 14 - 35) when Britpop was at its prime. The bands to include are those that formed part of that music scene.

    As for the other rules, I think there is a case for having a 2-from-3 clause. For example, Ash are not British. However, they released a significant album in the Britpop period that was popular and had a guitar sound. Likewise, a case could be made for the Chemical Bros in that although they didn't sound like a 'classic' Britpop band, they were British, were popular and formed part of the Britpop scene.

  • Wow that actually surprised me when you said Ash wasn't British, I couldn't believe it cus I was convinced I read somewhere they came from a so and so town which sounded like a familar town in England.

    Anyway to confirm where they are from I did a little search on TOTP profile pages and it said they are from northern island, which I would argue is technically part of Britain or United Kingdom or something.

    Wai-Tung Leung
  • Yes, Ash are British. It's anyone that comes from EIRE that is not, like U2.

    "I am the Badger King, I can do anything..."
  • Ok. Britain is, technically, the island of Great Britain, namely the countries of England, Wales and Scotland. The UK is, to give it its full title, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Hence Ash are not from the island of Great Britain and, ergo, not British. However, the title British has been lazily used to refer to anyone from the UK.

    Ok, I'm struggling here and may be making up things to support dodgy arguments. I accept that Ash were a poor example, so perhaps substitute thaem with the Wannadies. My point remains, however.


  • Edited by moonlitkitty on 4 Jun 2006, 05:50
  • Re:  

    Quoth moonlitkitty:
    To me, this means the music, even if it didn't achieve popularity, is accessible. It is catchy, has hooks, has a basic verse-chorus-verse structure (and if it veers from that has other elements that keep it accessible). The vocal melodies and lyrics generally jump out at you... it's not an effort to decipher the lyrics.

    I think this is a fact, not only your opinion.

    And in terms of how to define Britpop's style... well the 2 biggest bands, Blur and Oasis are really incredibly different, so once you find their commonalities, you have a good definition. There is the 'pop' style as I defined above, and implied in the word britpop is that it is an 'alternative' or indie, guitar based sound. There is meant to be a Beatles influence or at least some element of a jangly 60s sound.

    This is precisely what I tried to say a couple of posts ago. But you said it better :)

    And no, I wouldn't count non-British bands as britpop (we can be lenient to Ash and other close neighbours who fit the sound mould though :) ). I mean some American critics seem to think Green Day sing in a British accent (not to my ears), and they have a pop-grunge sound and a UK punk influence. The fact that they could meet some criteria but are by no stretch of the imagination Britpop, shows that actually being British, growing up within a particular culture absorbing its influences directly, is such an integral part of the Britpop sound.
    Why? I don't understand why everybody thinks a britpop band should be british! If a band is an exact copy of Oasis and is from Israel, why wouldn't they be britpop? why? I think Britpop is defined by its sound (like almost every other genre) not by the nationality of its band members.

    You didn't convince me using Green Day as an argument. I think they don't meet all the criteria. They have a US punk background (and a lot of punk bands have "british sounding" vocals like Green Day) and are not pop/grunge at all. They are influenced by early punk bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, not by the Beatles. No one (with a bit of musical knowledge) classifies Green Day as a britpop band (because of the difference in background, not because they are not British).

    I advice you all to read Allmusic, I think this is the Musical Bible

    Edited by Emmaneul on 21 May 2005, 22:09
  • Green Day do not have "british sounding" vocals. Billy joe sounds like a whiny 13 year old American, which is exactly what he wants to be (he's 35 or something in actuality).

    Oasis actually count the Sex Pistols among their influences if you actually read any interviews with them. Noel has said on a number of occasions that the Beatles and the Sex Pistols are his two main influences. Also, if you've actually listened to the Ramones or Sex Pistols, you'd know that their form of punk is much different from modern "punk", which, in effect, is pop with more guitars, and less intelligence, and the sound is so much different that it would almost be ridiculous to compare the two.

    No one says that Green Day are britpop, because they make completely different music, and are from America. Being britpop has everything to do with Britishness, particularly mid-90s "lad" culture, of which britpop was a part. The music of Oasis, Cast, The Chemical Brothers and Ocean Colour Scene, etc, must be taken in context of the mid 90s UK, which also featured the Big Breakfast, TFI Friday, and the rise of 'bloke' magazines, such as Maxim and FHM. Britpop was a phenomena solely based in mid-90s Britain, everything outside of that was something different.

    "I am the Badger King, I can do anything..."
  • Re:  

    Quoth Badger_King:
    Green Day do not have "british sounding" vocals. Billy joe sounds like a whiny 13 year old American, which is exactly what he wants to be (he's 35 or something in actuality).

    I agree with you on that, that's why I used quotation marks ("british sounding")

    Oasis actually count the Sex Pistols among their influences if you actually read any interviews with them. Noel has said on a number of occasions that the Beatles and the Sex Pistols are his two main influences.

    I didn't say that bands with punk as an influence couldn't be britpop. But if punk is your main influence and the Beatles (or other important British artists) are not you can't be a britpop band.

    Also, if you've actually listened to the Ramones or Sex Pistols, you'd know that their form of punk is much different from modern "punk", which, in effect, is pop with more guitars, and less intelligence, and the sound is so much different that it would almost be ridiculous to compare the two.
    I think you should listen and read more about (punk) music (www.allmusic.com), I did, I've listened and I've read a lot about the Ramones and Sex Pistols.
    I know for a fact that modern punk isn't "pop with more guitars, and less intelligence", perhaps the punk you see on MTV is (Sum 41, Blink 182, Good Charlotte) but a lot of punk is not poppy at all (and therefore less mainstream). And why couldn't one compare old punk to new punk? They have similarities because old evolved into new punk, it's like comparing a father to his son.


    No one says that Green Day are britpop, because they make completely different music, and are from America.
    I know bands that are called britpop that are not british in origin but sound like an average britpop band. Flemming for example sounds and looks very british and poppy. In the late 90s there was a quite large indie scene in Belgium, a lot of bands immitated the britpop sound very well, should they be called belgpop?

    Being britpop has everything to do with Britishness, particularly mid-90s "lad" culture, of which britpop was a part. The music of Oasis, Cast, The Chemical Brothers and Ocean Colour Scene, etc, must be taken in context of the mid 90s UK, which also featured the Big Breakfast, TFI Friday, and the rise of 'bloke' magazines, such as Maxim and FHM. Britpop was a phenomena solely based in mid-90s Britain, everything outside of that was something different.
    If you think the British background is more important than the British sound of a band, yeah, then you're right. But I think britpop is defined by the sound of bands like Blur and Oasis. If a band has the same sound and british feel, even if it isn't a British band, I think it should be called britpop.

    Edited by Emmaneul on 22 May 2005, 00:48

  • Edited by moonlitkitty on 4 Jun 2006, 06:05
  • emmanuel, you seem to think that allmusic.com is the be-all and end-all of the musical world. It's not. I don't need to read heavily about punk because I listen to it, I have a number of albums by people like the Buzzcocks, Sex Pistols, the Clash, X-Ray Spex, the Ramones,etc. I can not see the musical equivalent nowadays. For the "alternative" punk scene, I wouldn't know where to start, but I recently saw an 'underground' punk band called the Kirks. They sounded exactly like mainstream 'punk' but were less famous that is all.

    Punk was about causing anarchy, and sticking it to the man (hence why the Sex Pistols deemed it necessary to saw "fuck" and "cunt" on daytime television, the music was simple, badly recorded, and not particularly loud, now, it is none of these. It got commercialised, just like everything else. I would argue that Blur's "Song 2" is actually more punk than any drivel now.

    Belgpop sounds quite cool. And you can't compare the sound of Blur and Oasis, when they are very different.

    "I am the Badger King, I can do anything..."
  • Re:

    Quoth Badger_King:
    emmanuel, you seem to think that allmusic.com is the be-all and end-all of the musical world. It's not.

    I read a lot on allmusic and often they're right. I don't really care about the reviews and the number of stars albums get but the descriptions of genres are very accurate.

    And punk, it may not be the same in sociological sense nowadays ("Punk was about causing anarchy") but musicaly it has many similarities. Genuine, non-pop punk is still simple, driven by distortion guitars and fast played rock music. Many songs are still short and compact. The vocals are often yelled in a nonchalant way and it is not very important to sing perfectly on pitch.


    Quoth moonlitkitty:
    Bands imitating that style from other countries would really just be classified as indie pop, indie pop/rock or power pop.

    And Britpop,
    Ok, in that case britpop is British powerpop. The band should be british to be called britpop. Now, I'm convinced but I still think it is a bit lame to connect a genre to a location. I think genres should be defined by the sound of the music, I think you should be able to hear what kind of music you're listening to even if you don't know the band.

    Edited by Emmaneul on 24 Sep 2006, 17:37
  • congratulation garyyokel
    you have just stated the obvious

  • um, thanks all6sand7s. might seem obvious to you but at least it got a bit of discussion going.

    • rogee said...
    • User
    • 27 Jun 2005, 23:08
    By the "definition", Bush should be considered Britpop. Or shouldn't they?

    Discuss. :)

  • the urban dictionary version of britpop

    britpop
    A mostly mid 1990's style of British music that began with Suede's release of "Suede". It was greatly influenced by late 80's Madchester and Post-Madchester bands such as The Stone Roses, The Happy Mondays, The Charlatans UK and others. They also have very heavy The Smiths influence, along with roots in 60's style British Rock, and British Traditional Rock. Also, the rock magazine NME used to love them. Some early 2000's bands are Britpop like, but aren't at the height of the movement.
    Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Supergrass, Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs, Manic Street Preachers, Mercury Rev, (the London) Suede.

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