The 1990s and British music

This won’t be a glorious retrospective or even an excoriating rant about British pop music in the 1990s. I moved to Essex in about 1993, and my enduring memories of the Brit music for the ensuant 7 years are BritPop (which I never really took to bar Suede and Blur’s mid-to-late work), the shudderingly awful ladrock of Oasis, awful meat market dance tunes – this was Essex, after all – and of course the cancerous polyp upon the anus of humanity that was UK Garage, and subsequently Craig David’s stupid chinstrap. I wasn’t much of a fan of what I heard at the time. But hey, your mileage may vary. I once read that the guys who pioneered UK Garage were working underground with little recognition for many years, so at least they were genuine at the same time as being terrible.

But the point of this post isn’t too reminisce about times past. It’s actually to make cheap fun of the elements of British pop culture that just don’t seem to be able to move on. Let’s start with the slightly tragic: recently ’90s two-hit wonder Republica (you know them, your mum probably likes ‘Ready To Go’) reformed for a tax write-off reunion show. Loserville was in attendance and reviewed what was, by all accounts, the most significant musical event of 2010.

It’s a little bit sad. Almost a decade and a half after they faded into obscurity they’re back, but it can’t possibly last long. Who gives a shit about Republica in 2010? Here there’s an interview with singer Saffron (once a bit of a heartthrob, don’t you know) where you can play a fun game of “spot the names that were significant in the 1990s”. I see you, Carl Cox!

In “I feel less bad laughing at this one” news, here’s the NME – long a subject of mockery here in Britain thanks to its obsession with washed-out has-beens like the Gallagher brothers and Pete Doherty. Seriously, every issue offers these idiots more press coverage than any other British media organ outside of Gordon Smart’s shitty Bizarre column in The Sun. The NME’s business plan in these trying times is to knuckle down and squirt content at the slowly dwindling fanbases of a few bands. The magazine is a bit of a running joke these days among music fans who have listened to a record by a band that formed within the last five years, and it’s a shadow of its former self (once an influential player in British music not to mention a springboard for numerous well-known writers ).

There’s a mid-sized dose of schadenfreude in my amusement at hearing that the NME Weekender – a festival headlined by, er, Babyshambles and featuring some admittedly decent bands like 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Errors and Trash Talk – was attended by idiots.

NME fan: So wha’ kinda music d’ya like then, Arctic Monkeys or what?

Insider: Err, y’know, bits of indie. [tactfully avoiding “I’ve never heard of them” conversation.] Not really Arctic Monkeys.

NME fan: I only like Oasis and The Beatles, me.

Insider: I like Oasis’ first two albums, but none of the rest of it.

NME fan: Urgh, people who say stuff like tha’ don’t like music.

To which I can only say: hahahaha! I look forward to seeing if they hold another weekender, which they will surely do if this first one did okay financially and the majority of attendees weren’t there having won tickets in a competition.

(Disclaimer of niceness: Ordinarily I’m not that into making fun of bands or musicians, because I figure that if people are putting a lot of themselves into creating something they should at least be afforded a modicum of respect – even if you’re saying that what they’ve made is terrible. On the other hand, I’ve got little patience for cash-grab reunions, magazines that respond to the general decline of the industry with lowest common denominator landfill, or awful and unnecessary festivals set up by the unimaginative. Plus sometimes making fun of things is just funny.)

2 Responses to “The 1990s and British music”
  1. saamFG says:

    I assure you there are idiots like that at pretty much every single gig ever, regardless of genre and location.

  2. Shaun CG says:

    Surely they’d only be at Oasis gigs as a rule? ;)

    Yeah, fair call though. “I only listen to early 90s screamo, the rest of you are all sell-outs.”