Britpop and New Labour
May 7, 2005 6:21 PM   Subscribe

What is the connection, if any, between britpop and New Labour?
posted by Tlogmer to Society & Culture (12 answers total)
It was a musical zeitgeist that occured around the same time as new labours birth which new labour tapped into......noel gallagher visiting downing st to meet tony blair etc .....and oasis turned out shite as well.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:26 PM on May 7, 2005

The documentary "Live Forever" covers this topic quite well.
posted by bruceyeah at 6:53 PM on May 7, 2005

You could also try John Harris's The Last Party: Britpop, Blair, and the Demise of English Rock (London: Harper Collins, 2003), which covers this angle in some depth, and is a bloody good read besides.
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:59 PM on May 7, 2005

It was all just cocaine socialism, wasn't it?
posted by Termite at 1:16 AM on May 8, 2005

Response by poster: "Live Forever" (or the part of it I saw) was actually what piqued my interest.
posted by Tlogmer at 3:29 AM on May 8, 2005

Presently very little, though -- and any crossover that occurred during and just after 1997 was fairly superficial. I think much too much could be read into this. Prior to '97 the party took great steps to make the party electable, including appealing to middle Britain with acts like changing clause 4 of the party's constituion. Labour arguably courted brit-oppers in an attempt to increase the party's youth appeal, including one or two occasions were various celebreties nipped round to Downing Street for drinks and a chat with the PM. Note that all this coincides with the short-loved cool britannia phenomenon, which was occuring at the time; and so although it was tapping into the zeitgeist of the time, it was more than musical.

If, though, your interest is in the rise of New Labour I'd strongly suggest looking at the substantive changes and policy shifts they made before 1997 in order to appeal the British people. If you're interested in the cultural aspect, I'd urge you nto to read too much into it. You barely hear either term (New Labour or Britpop) any more.
posted by nthdegx at 3:36 AM on May 8, 2005

posted by nthdegx at 3:37 AM on May 8, 2005

There isn't really a connection.

On the political side of things, we'd had a pretty miserable time with 18 years of Conservative rule ending with the last years under the impotent John Major and being in economic recession. The Tory government had become widely despised but Labour's run of defeat had been so long that no one was entirely sure they would win (particularly as a Labour win had been widely and wrongly predicted in 1992).

On the pop side of things, music in Britain had been in a bit of a lull. Faceless and largely dull dance music had been filling the charts but unfortunately lacked any personalities. Grunge had been a huge success over here so rather earnest American bands were the order of the day if you liked guitars. Then Oasis appeared with Definetly Maybe that was a brash mix of punk noise, pop melodies and tales of working class life. Blur made the first of many revivals with Modern Life is Rubbish and Parklife - musically more sophisticated than Oasis but there were those lyrics of working class life with some suburban angst thrown in too. Pulp, Supergrass, Elastica, and many other bands appeared on the scene and got swept up in the slipstream. Suddenly guitar bands were having major hits again, real personalities were in these bands and the music charts had become a more interesting place. We even had a battle of the bands between Blur and Oasis.

So, when Labour finally did win the election the feeling of relief and optimism was everywhere and Britpop was the soundtrack to those times. We'd moved from a government that was crusty, grey haired and obviously uninterested in music to a prime minister who used to be in a band called Ugly Rumours. The fact that (supposedly) working class bands were a big success while a (supposedly) working class government had gained power was a link many made.

Blair was keen to be associated with these young and successful people. They were invited to a party at Number Ten and Noel Gallagher (from Oasis) was one of the most prominent guests. Comparassions were made to the meeting of Harold Wilson and the Beatles.

The meeting of politicians and musicians always proves to be embarassing and it certainly didn't do Gallagher any favours. I think Gallagher regrets getting involved but he continues to sound defiant, putting his motivation in going down to curiosity.

As you can probably tell I was very swept up in the whole Britpop thing and I have to say they were great times. The kind of music I loved was getting major attention, and the politicians I loathed got there arses spanked - there was much to celebrate. Of course it couldn't last. Oasis' Be Here Now is the sound of blizzards of cocaine, Pulp's This Is Hardcore is brilliant but doomed and Blur's The Great Escape was a dead horse being flogged for one last time. I never expected much from Blair himself - he was still dissapointing.

Blimey, this is a long post and a little bit scrappy but it's what I remember anyway.
posted by dodgygeezer at 4:28 AM on May 8, 2005

but it's what I remember anyway.

Blur's Great Escape was released in 1995 (almost 2 years before Blair got in)

To me, Britpop ended in 1996 - probably around the time of the European Championship.

Blair's lot were courting a scene that was long dead, in a musical sense anyway.
posted by the cuban at 4:44 AM on May 8, 2005

Blur's Great Escape was released in 1995 (almost 2 years before Blair got in)

That paragraph wasn't meant to be part of a time line, just a very short summary on my feelings about where it all went wrong.
posted by dodgygeezer at 8:24 AM on May 8, 2005

I'll second the recommendation for "The Last Party" (I just found it on a remainder table for $5 at a local bookseller here in Canada.)

The book gives a good overview of the various events in music (and lesser so, in politics and wider society in general) that led to, were part of, and the aftermath of the Britpop/Cool Brittannia phenomena of roughly 1994-1997. Wikipedia has an article on Britpop but it doesn't talk about the way that the Labour Party aligned themselves with the booming "indie" music scene to gain credibility with youth voters.
posted by Jaybo at 11:03 AM on May 8, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, dodgygeezer et al. Normally I'd mark a bunch of best answers but that's discouraged for non-technical questions.
posted by Tlogmer at 6:29 PM on May 8, 2005

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