The world was a different place in 1994. Forrest Gump ruled the box office, Kurt Cobain committed suicide, and OJ Simpson fled from police in a white Ford Bronco. Over in England, the scene was ruled by Britpop, the lively and anthemic Cool Britannia movement of music and culture that spit in the eye of American grunge and cast aside the Madchester and shoegaze scenes at home. While one can argue about the start of Britpop (Suede releasing “Metal Mickey” in September 1992 is our jump-off) or its apex (Pulp headlining Glastonbury ’95), 1994 gave us the fat of the land: the release of chart-topping classics including Blur’s Parklife, Pulp’s His ‘n’ Hers, Oasis’ Definitely Maybe, and Vanya HQ favorite Dog Man Star by Suede, among countless others.
With anniversary fever and listicles and charts just waiting to explode like Jarvis Cocker perched atop a speaker monitor, the BBC’s commemoration of Britpop’s 20th anniversary struck in April. The BBC marked the occasion with television and radio specials and the release of a special Britpop at the BBC compilation CD. But turning 20 didn’t simply mean Britpop was a nostalgia trip fueling 2014 — many Britpop artists continue to make music today.
With a nod to the Vanyaland archives — and since we’re probably one of the few American sites to cover these artists — check out our Year in Britpop 2014, written with all the love and poison of not just London, but Boston as well.
Britpop stars, they’re just like us! jerseymilkcow’s work depicts Jarvis Cocker being perplexed by the self-checkout at Morrison’s, Justine Frischmann getting a parking ticket, and Liam Gallagher struggling with a fold-up bicycle. The only thing missing? Jas Mann from Babylon Zoo selling carpets.
March 3: McAlmont & Butler reunite for charity gigs
David McAlmont and former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler said “yes” to a reunion for a good cause. The duo played two shows benefiting the Bobath Centre, a North London organization aiding children with cerebral palsy. The shows were quite a success with the band raising £20,000 for the charity.
March 26: Johnny Dean resurrects Menswe@r on stage in London
After a few successful gigs in ’13, the singer assembled Menswe@r version 2.0 with the band playing shows throughout the year (including one at London’s Bush Hall which was attended by yours truly and Michael Marotta!) and even releasing a new single, “Crash ’14.” Dean warmed up by lashing out at the BRIT awards in February and August saw the ‘swe@r headlining XFM’s This Feeling “Britpop Special” party.
May 15: Suede announces new album due in 2015
Hot on the heels of the success of 2013’s triumphant return to form Bloodsports, Suede announced that they were once again in the studio. The new album is slated for release in the new year. We here at Vanya HQ will start praying to the Britpop gods in hopes that 2015 will also see Suede returning to America for a gig or two.
June 9: Damon Albarn performs “Song” 2 without Blur for the first time
While touring his recent solo album Everyday Robots, the former Blur frontman treated the audience at Boston’s Royale with the classic “Song 2.” It was apparently the first time Damon had played the song without Blur, and our video made national headlines. Woo to the hoo!
August 9: Jamie Harding of Marion is back! Kinda!
Perhaps inspired by all the reunions happening over 2014, Marion lead singer Jaime Harding and guitarist Tony Grantham joined Menswe@r on the This Feeling “Britpop Special” bill alongside Northern Uproar and Oasis tour DJ Phil Smith, who joined the lineup when original DJ Paul Draper of Mansun pulled out. Look at Jaime go!
August 25: Mansun’s Paul Draper teases debut solo track
2014 was a good year for former Mansun frontman Paul Draper: not only did he release music with Catherine A.D. under the name the Anchoress, he also debuted his very first solo track at this summer’s Mansun fan convention.
September 25: Gerard Way releases the best Britpop song in 15 years
None of us really saw this coming, but Gerard Way is a fellow Britpop disciple (Gerard if you’re reading this, you must come to Boston and spin the hits with us at Britpop Social Club!) Earlier this year he told the NME that his debut solo album is heavily influence by Pulp, Lush, and Elastica, among others, and he wasn’t playing around. The former My Chemical Romance screamer dropped his debut record, Hesitant Alien, and its standout track “Millions” could have come out of 1995 Camden. And for that, he has all of our love and respect.
October 25: Beady Eye call it quits
Perhaps feeling the pressure from big brother Noel and his High Flying Birds, Liam Gallagher’s post-Oasis outfit split up, which means we can only assume left Andy Bell with enough time on his hands to reunite Ride. But wait, there’s more!
November 19: Hurricane #1 announce their very own reunion
But …without Andy Bell. Remember Hurricane #1? They had a minor hit during the final days of Britpop with “Step Into My World.” The remaining members (again, minus Andy Bell) announced a reunion just days before the big Ride news.
November 19: Pulp’s documentary finally comes to the United States
After select dates and special event screenings, the quirky documentary Pulp: a Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets finally came to American shores in November. Director Florian Habicht’s fun look at the band and their role in their hometown of Sheffield is a more about cultural identity than scanning the veteran band’s history and backstory, and tells the tale of Pulp to wonderful effect. Vanyaland co-presented the screening at the Brattle, and afterwards we raised a glass at Abigail’s at the latest Britpop Social Club.