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Is the Britpop guilty of Brexit?

“The britpop presented a simplistic idea of the past and forced a strange consensus that, in the end, ended up convincing a lot of people. Almost one and a half million people in the UK bought Be Here Now, Oasis’ third album. It wasn’t a good album. I think that was the point where a lot of people realised that something was wrong. Take a look at your record collection, see among them Be here now and think: ‘What have I done? I see Brexit as another Be here now. When you realize it’s bad, do you go back to the record store and give it back or do you try to convince yourself that it’s good and live with it for the rest of your life?”.

This analogy told us by the Irish journalist Karl Whitman is really good. The only problem is that it could work with this length of Oasis as with a bad album of bossanova, trip hop or ambient. So why did you choose an album by one of the main figures of the britpop? Because we asked him an inductive question based on the fact that a few months ago an idea spread between a certain faction of the press and the British public that this musical movement emerged in the islands in spring 1993 and led by bands like Suede, Blur, Pulp or the Oasis themselves is partly responsible for the configuration of the idea of Brexit. His triumph at the polls more than two decades later is more a matter of Cambridge Analytics or Dominic Cummings.

Morrissey, in 1992, in a concert in Finsbury Park in which he acted as the opening act for Madness. While performing ‘The National Front disco’ he was thrown everything and had to leave the stage.
Morrissey, in 1992, in a concert in Finsbury Park in which he acted as the backdrop for Madness. While he was performing ‘The National Front disco’ they threw everything at him and he had to leave the stage. Photo: Getty
“I think there is a considerable element of charge of conscience among many of the bands in that music scene. In his memoirs [Mañanas negras como el carbón, Ed. Contra], Suede leader Brett Anderson shares his concern: ‘What did we do? What are we responsible for? For me, the britpop liquefied the past to get some images and ideas of what it means to be English out of it, but without thinking too much about it. That’s what makes him related to Brexit. He shares that nostalgic and false image of the past. I don’t think the relationship between the two is casual, although I wouldn’t go so far as to say that music led to the EU’s exit,” says Whitman. “The britpop is linked to Tony Blair, the idea of Cool Britannia and Swinging London. A joke”, says writer Jon Savage, a renowned essayist in the history of rock, whose latest work published in Spain is Teenage (Ed. Desperta Ferro). “That musical movement was lazy and pleased to meet each other, but Brexit is much worse.

“Those arguments that link the britpop with the Brexit don’t make any sense. They are based on a caricatured image of the britpop as something insular and nationalistic. I was there and never was. Dorian Lynksey is one of the best English music journalists of the last quarter of a century and author of 33 revolutions per minute (Ed. Malpaso), a book in which he reviews 33 songs of politics and agitation. He argues that there is much more to Britpop than nostalgia, pop patriotism or the uninhibited display of national symbols.

The scene was an amalgam of musicians with different sensibilities – Jarvis Cocker’s cosmovision has nothing to do with Liam Gallagher’s – in a socially and economically effervescent situation such as that of the mid-1990s. If we looked at it coldly, there was much more excitement at the option of taking out the British government’s Tories than at the possibility of England winning the Euro Cup it organised in 1996. Speaking of football… “During that tournament the feeling spread that the flag could be taken away from the bullfighters and the racists. That patriotism was kind and cosmopolitan. It was not at all based on hatred. For me, the origin of Brexit comes from much further back, from the false conviction that Great Britain won World War II alone or from the loss of the Empire, or even after that time, with the economic crisis and the refugee crisis. If we compare it with those moments, the nineties are a benign and kind period, perhaps a little too complacent and pleased to meet each other.

Damon Albarn’s latest album is the one he has released with The Good, The Bad And The Queen, it’s called ‘Merrie Land’ and many see it as a multicultural update on his work with Blur.
Damon Albarn’s latest album is the one he has released with The Good, The Bad And The Queen, it’s called ‘Merrie Land’ and many see it as a multicultural update on his work with Blur. Photo: Getty
Many date from April 1993 the official birth of the britpop. That month, the cover of the music magazine Select was occupied by an image of Brett Anderso.

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