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Guest column - Five things Britpop wasn't by Longpigs' Simon Stafford

Guest column - Five things Britpop wasn't by Longpigs' Simon Stafford
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Quietly acclaimed compared to their 1990s contemporaries, Longpigs didn’t only write some affecting tunes for themselves at the time, its members have gone to enjoy long, respected musical careers. Amongst them guitarist Richard Hawley is, well, Richard Hawley, singer Crispin Hunt has written for the likes of Jake Bugg and Florence + The Machine, while bassist Simon Stafford (second right) has worked with Joe Strummer, Jarvis Cocker and more and is currently working on Black Cat/ White Cat album for release this year. Ahead of the Longpigs collection, On And On: The Anthology which is released on 26 August, Stafford has looked back at his old band and the Britpop era. Well sort of. “Hearing the word Britpop still makes me want to puke,” he notes, “so I was extremely grateful when the dear old Q asked me to get things off my chest…”

The Five Things That Britpop Wasn’t

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1. A Genre I don’t the idea of ‘genres’ anyway, but Britpop? What the fuck’s that? The only thing that most of the so-called Britpop bands had in common is that they were shit. People make music, then somebody else tries to put a label on it, and any self-respecting bands of the 90s hated being called ‘Britpop’.

2. A Movement There was no coherent thought or development in Britpop, there was no point or message, not an iota of ideology. Anyway, Britpop didn’t really exist – the term ‘Britpop’ was coined by the media as a desperate response to the electronic dance music explosion, in an effort to convince readers that guitar bands were exciting, interesting, and worth spending a few quid on. Most bands at the time were not.

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3. A celebration of British culture Well, I guess in the 90s there were a few songs about chip shops and housing estates, but so what? That’s no great earth-shattering insight worth dwelling on. It would be of more cultural interest to point out there was a continued interest in the wearing of socks. There was as much diversity in lyrical content as in any other period of music, it’s just lazy journalism to dwell on the handful of songs with parochial lyrics.

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4. A significant part of Music History Ha ha ha. Ahem. Well, every decade gets a sugar-coated media label to help the marketing men to sell it all back to us – but we know it’s over-simplified bollocks, right? In fact, the 90s saw a range of diverse music, some good, some not so good, but not just the usual stuff that’s rammed down our throats. The development of pop music through the years is documented by those with access to publishing means – not always those who are best placed to comment – although the gradual democratisation of music journalism has helped people to see through these kinds of straightjacketed historical narratives. Are you with me, Sisters?

5. So, on the other hand, what actually was Britpop? A made-up word, with no meaning or relevance, and no place in the history books, except in the history of shit made-up words. So that’s that one sorted.

The Longpigs anthology is available via 3loopmusic.com, “and you can like my new band BlackCatWhiteCat so I can stop being such a grump”: Facebook.com/BlackCatWhiteCat.


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