A recent article on Pitchfork was published with the bold title “Britpop is Dead: Why Blur’s Comeback Isn’t One.” Blur was once a popular Britpop band, from, you guessed it, Great Britain. As Britpop raged on in the early 1990s, it has steadily declined, but apparently is making a comeback. Using the article as a reference, I intend to examine what the state, or lack thereof, of Britpop really is.
Britpop is an indie music scene that originated in the UK as early as the mid 1980’s that later became associated with a sort of “passive” anti-grunge movement. In Britpop you can hear the remnants of previous British music waves, such as glam pop and punk. The leaders of the Britpop era are generally regarded as Blur, who is the primary focus of the Pitchfork article, Oasis, the Verve, Suede, and Placebo.
Now, it should be noted that many of these bands have been inactive since the 1990s or early 2000s. However, many of the musicians have conducted solo projects with success. This begs the question, is Britpop really dead if its pioneers musicians are still producing it?More or less, I would agree with the article and say that Britpop as it originally sounded like is long gone. And while one key musician from it, Damon Albarn, is still active, his genre has shifted drastically as seen here (with Blur before and Gorillaz after):
While it is clear that the first wave has run its course, what about the second wave? There are still bands like Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, and Radiohead that have gained widespread popularity. However, they aren’t what comes to mind as classic Britpop, which embodies the leisurely, modern, upper-class London lifestyle accompanied by classic rock n roll instruments. I do not wholly prefer one wave over the other, but it is clear that they are different.
So what is the consensus? I would say that the article is quite accurate. I do love and respect Damon Albarn, but while him and Blur are making a comeback, I do not anticipate it to sound much like their early works. Britain still brews a lot of pop, just not what one would classify as the original “Britpop.” Again, this is fine. I would be surprised if people started calling alternative music in America, “grunge” again. What I would like to see is other musicians stepping up like Damon Albarn to try and experiment in this new era of music. A little old fashioned Britpop influences wouldn’t hurt in the slightest.