The REAL Sound Of The 90s

In Commentary, HOME, MUSIC by Nick Cordingly

blur-vs-oasisBBC Radio 6music are currently running a season in celebration of 90s Britpop. But I, for one, don’t really see much to celebrate in this time between the death of punk and the birth of Indie rock. Inevitably it will be celebrated, because most people in positions of influence in the music industry right now are people who grew up with this music, and thus regard the whole scene with a great wave of nostalgia. Mostly these are white men looking back to the days when similar white men to them ruled the charts with their sound drawn from the Madchester scene and reacting against the drone of American grunge.

When we look at Britpop we mustn’t look just at the music itself, but at the whole cultural shift it propagated in 90s Britain. Every time I read a feminist thinkpiece about the rise of lad culture in Britain I always wonder why they seem to describe it as some sort of modern phenomenon. People are misled into believing laddishness is a new occurrence, just because it is more visible due to social media. Lad culture as we see it now seems obvious to me to be a product of Britpop. These artists were desperate to appear like relatable cheeky chappies, even if they were actually rather posh, perhaps as a reaction to years and years of conservative government. It became all about going out, having a laugh, getting wasted, getting some girls. This was the era of Loaded and FHM, suddenly everyone was dropping their t’s and people were inventing new words like ‘ladette.’

Sara-_-Zoe---BRITThe key ‘ladettes’ of the era – Sara Cox and Zoe Ball, both sensible mumsy types now.

Yet despite a desperate attempt to not appear posh, this was music by and for suburban middle class teenagers. There were no black people, no gay people and not many women in these bands (the most notable being the female fronted ‘Sleeper’ who never achieved a number one single or album and have not really lasted in popular memory). If you were to judge 90s music from what the NME or Stuart Maconie or Paul Morley present it, music not produced by straight white men barely existed in the 90s, or if it did it was merely to be sneered at.

Well, I refuse to sneer at it. So here are some of my personal favourite British tracks released in the 90s. Here is the UK Garage, the drum and bass, the soul, girl bands and boy bands, dance music and house music. You’re welcome.

If you think a 90s classic has been missed off of the playlist or you just want to rant about some 90s favourites of your own. Drop us a comment below.

Nick Cordingly

Nick Cordingly is the Deputy Editor of MUSIC at PTL. He was recently dragged kicking and screaming out of the Cambridge bubble and is now in the enviable position of trying to find a use for a history degree when all he wants to do is listen to pop music and tweet. Nick also has a tumblr called ‘Sounds & Thoughts’ which he should update more regularly.

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