Famous Five: Britpop tracks everyone should know

What tracks were your favourites? Comment below!
What tracks were your favourites? Comment below!

This year marks twenty years since ‘Britpop’ first really took the musical stage in the UK. Lead primarily by Blur and Oasis this term was really coined after the death of Kurt Cobain, and the release of the Blur album ‘Parklife’ and Oasis’ ‘Definitely Maybe’.  Of course everyone knows Britpop goes further than this – Britpop was about working class musicians with a distinct sound influenced by the guitar music of the 1960s and 1970s. We’re not just talking Blur and Oasis, we’re talking Ocean Colour Scene, Supergrass, Pulp and the Boo Radleys to name but a few. There were many tracks released primarily between 1994 and 1997 with this distinct sound, so as way of celebrating twenty years since Britpop first came to the fore, here’s five tracks you should have heard of…

1. Wonderwall – Oasis

Released in November 1995, the biggest surprise about this track is that it never topped the charts. I’m sure everyone remembers Robson & Jerome’s ‘I Believe’ that topped the charts instead (wait… you don’t?) leaving this track at Number 2. To add insult to injury a cover of the song released a month later by Mike Flowers Pops also peaked at Number 2, this time losing out to Michael Jackson’s ‘Earth Song’. However since then it was voted ‘Best British Song’ in a 2005 Virgin Radio poll, and was also played at the 2012 Olympics closing ceremony…. Robson & Jerome being conspicuous by their absence on both occasions….

2. Common People – Pulp

Propelling Pulp to nationwide fame in 1995, this track again entered the charts at number two (Yes, Robson & Jerome denied them too – this time with a cover of Unchained Melody). Recently voted the top Britpop anthem of all time, this really is a track that sums up what Britpop is all about really. More importantly it was before Jarvis Cocker decided invading a Michael Jackson performance at the Brit Awards was a good idea, so this tune really is all about the music.

3. Parklife – Blur

The title track from Blur’s album, complete with spoken verses by Phil Daniels (think the guy who played Kevin Wicks in EastEnders) only reached number ten in 1994 but again this has stood the test of time. Credited with being one of the tracks that kick started the whole Britpop movement this is a track everyone should have heard of – shouldn’t they?

4. The Day We Caught the Train – Ocean Colour Scene

A group definitely from the Oasis mould of Britpop, this track rocked in at number four in 1996. Based on the cult film Quadrophenia this track is probably one of the ones I forget the most. However with its catchy chorus and distinct sound, it’s definitely a Britpop favourite here.

 5. Wake up Boo – The Boo Radleys

When you’re limiting yourself to only five tracks it can be a challenge. This is a slot that could have gone to about twenty other tracks, but out of all the Britpop tracks this was always my favourite – probably because like the intro to ‘Ride on Time’ I can imagine this being a rather amusing alarm in the morning with the lyrics ‘Wake up it’s a beautiful morning’ almost making your overworked, tired self want to smash the alarm clock into next week. Released in February 1995 and peaking at a chart position of number 9 this is a song I personally really associate with the summer months…. and summer’s nearly on its way now!

And finally…

OK I couldn’t resist it. There are five tracks that nearly made it onto the list that really and truly deserve a mention: Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve released in 1997, charting at number two (losing out to three blonde haired kids singing ‘Mmmmbop’); Song 2 by Blur, another 1997 release, again charting at number two – this time losing out to R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly; Disco 2000 by Pulp, released in 1995 and charting at number nine; Alright by Supergrass another 1995 release that along with many Britpop songs only reached number 2 (Outhere Brothers with Boom Boom Boom providing the chart topper that week) and finally Don’t Look Back in Anger – a true quality tune from Oasis that reached number 1 (yep – 1!) in 1996.