The Top 10 Britpop Bands of The 90s

Top-10-Britpop-Bands-90s

Following on from our top 10 female rock singers, iconic concerts and the top 10 Irish rock bands, therock.ie is now presenting the top 10 Britpop bands of the 90s. It was truly a wonderful era for music, giving the world many great bands and artists, that are still hugely popular in 2020.

10. Sleeper

Kicking off our list, our London band, Sleeper. Fronted by Louise Wener they were one of the few Britpop bands to be fronted by a woman. The band enjoyed huge critical and commercial success in the 90s. Sleeper had over a million album sales and numerous top 10 singles.

In 1997, the band walked away from the limelight. They all went on to enjoy success in their chosen fields, Wener became a popular novelist while drummer Andy Maclure and guitarist John Stewart both became lecturers in media studies. Sleeper’s cover of ‘Atomic’ by Blondie was featured in the iconic Danny Boyle film, ‘Trainspotting’.

They reformed in 2017, playing festivals and concerts across England.

9. Elastica

Another Britpop band that featured female members were Elastica. The band had a short run, but it was a career that saw them perform extremely well on both sides of the Atlantic. The band took inspiration from the nu-wave scene of the 80s. They were also plagued by plagiarism issues throughout their career and these disputes were settled out of court.

Elastica were only active from 1992 until 2001. However, the band had slots at Glastonbury and Lollapalooza in 1995. This tour saw them on the road for a year in where they toured North America four times.

Frontwoman, Justine Frischmann moved to America after the band split up. The only activity seen by the band since their breakup was in 2017. Drummer Justin Welch, guitarist Donna Matthews and bass player Annie Holland entered Abbey Road studios to work on a remastered version of the band’s debut album ‘Elastica’. Frischmann worked on the project separately. It was released as a special edition for Record Store Day in 2017.

8. Supergrass

Supergrass brought a quirky and jovial aspect to the Britpop scene. Yet, the band who signed with Parlaphone records in 1994 were a hit. Their debut album ‘I Should Coco’ was the labels best selling album since The Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’. Another element to Supergrass’ early success was due to the airtime John Peel gave them. The legendary DJ was a big fan of the band and would play their debut single ‘Caught By The Fuzz’ repeatedly.

The band were active from 1993 up until 2010. In 2019, the band reformed and stared playing concerts around England. They were due to play European shows and perform at Glastonbury, but they were cancelled due to the pandemic.

At a time when music videos were a critical part of a band’s career, Supergrass produced interesting and different videos, which helped them stand out from the rest of the bands at the time. Their biggest hit ‘Alright’ is a great example of this.

 

7. The Charlatans

Bringing elements of psychedelic rock and R’N’B, The Charlatans became one of the most popular bands in the Britpop scene. While the band are associated with the ‘Madchester’ scene, the group started out in the midlands.

The band came to prominence in the early 90s with the track ‘The Only One I Know’. Commercial success would be a regular occurrence for the band; Three number 1 albums and 22 of their singles entered the top 40.

The group has endured some tragic events throughout their career. Former members Jon Brookes and Rob Collins both passed away while in the band. Since their formation in 1988, the band have never split up and have continued to tour and record albums throughout the years. This makes them an anomaly in the Britpop scene.

 

6. The Verve

Multiple breakups, huge commercial success and a long running plagiarism case meant that The Verve were one of the more chaotic bands in the Britpop scene. Formed in Wigan in 1990, the band, like The Charlatans had an element of psychedelic rock to their music.

The band had an electric start to their career. Their first three singles landed at number 1 on the UK indie charts and saw them garner support from New York due to it’s thriving psych rock scene. In 1997, with the release of ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ The Verve were probably the biggest band that year. The song was a huge hit. They got permission to use four bars of an orchestral version of the Rolling Stone song ‘The Last Time’. Jagger and Richards had no issues with The Verve, it was the record company Decca, who went after The Verve.

The Verve have had three stints in their career. Before one of their reunions, frontman Richard Ashcroft said “You’ll more likely to get all four Beatles on stage” when asked about a reunion. Since 2009 there has been no concerts or albums from the band, but with Ashcroft doing a U-turn before, a reunion can never be ruled out.

5. Pulp

If Pulp are only ever remembered for this song, then I don’t care, it’s a good song” said Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker at Reading 2011. The song he is referring to is the iconic Britpop song, ‘Common People’. To only remember Pulp for this song would be disingenuous, they are more than just a one hit wonder.

The band was formed in 1978, making them one of the oldest Britpop bands. They struggled for commercial success throughout the 80s but found themselves in the limelight in the mid-90s with the release of ‘Different Class’. ‘Common People’ and ‘Sorted for E’s and Whizz’ were singles that reached number two in the charts. What also helped the Pulp’s popularity rise was their performance as last minute headliners at Glastonbury in 1995, filling in for The Stone Roses.

Frontman, Jarvis Cocker made headlines in 1996 at the BRIT awards. He made his way on stage during Michael Jackson’s performance and wiggled his ass at the audience. Comedian and former solicitor Bob Mortimer acted as his legal representation and Cocker only spent one night in jail.

The band have been on and off throughout the years. They last performed in 2012 and have no plans to reform or record together again.

 

4. The Stone Roses

Formed in Manchester in the 80s, The Stones Roses burst onto the scene with the release of their debut album ‘The Stone Roses’. It received huge critical acclaim, and some have suggested that it is one of the best British albums ever recorded.

Following on from their hit debut album, the band had legal issues regarding their record company. The band were unhappy with the payment they received from Silvertone Records and wanted to sign on with Geffen Records. The protracted legal battle meant the band could not record for years. It stifled their career. This was a turning point for the band, as this period saw other bands form and become household names during the Britpop scene.

Once signed with Geffen records, the band were not that active and spent a lot of time watching football. The company eventually demanded that they finish their second record. It was met with negative reviews at the time of release. It didn’t hold a candle to their debut album. Accidents, acrimonious relationships within the band and the emergence of new bands saw the Stone Roses falter away into obscurity. The band broke up in October 1996.

In the 2010s, The Stone Roses reformed again. They embarked on a world tour that started in Manchester in 2011 and was followed up with a show in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. The band have had a long relationship with Ireland, since playing at McGonagles in 1989. A third album was released, and more concerts were performed but the band broke up for good in 2017. It was confirmed in an interview with guitarist John Squire. In recent times, frontman Ian Brown has received a lot of criticism from fans and peers due to anti-mask and anti-lock down views he is sharing on Twitter.

 

3. Manic Street Preachers

They’re the only non-English band on this list and have ever present since 1986, Manic Street Preachers are one of the best success stories from the Britpop era. The band were often controversial, with their music, videos, lyrics, and their behaviour in the press. This enamoured them with fans and the press.

The band fronted by James Dean Bradfield, were originally a trio. Then Richey Edwards joined to make them a four-piece. The story of Edwards is an interesting one. The former guitarist disappeared in 1995. Some have alluded he committed suicide by jumping off the Severn bridge. There have been reported sightings of Edwards across the world since his disappearance. The band, with permission of Edwards’ family continued their career. The Manic Street Preachers still set up a microphone for Edwards at every concert they play and donate 25% of their royalties to his family.

Their music was inspired by The Clash and the Sex Pistols. While they were reported as offering something different than Britpop, it’s hard to imagine the Britpop scene without them. Their rise to fame in the 90s gave another element to the scene.

Unlike many bands in this list, Manic Street Preachers have been a constant fixture. They’ve sold over 10 million records worldwide and have made appearances at Glastonbury and Electric Picnic over the years. With fantastic riffs and the use of orchestras in their music, the band became one of the more popular bands of the 90s. The fact they are still around to this day is a testament to the them and their music.

 

2. Blur

It is no surprise that the top two are the bands who were involved in the ‘Battle of Britpop’. Blur formed in 1989 in London were one of the biggest bands of the 90s around the world.

The early years were tumultuous for the band. They found themselves in debt to the tune of £60,000, which led to them tour America. The band often got in confrontations and suffered from homesickness. This led them to write songs inspired by England. This gave them their Britpop sound. The years between 1992 and 1995 saw the band release hit after hit with ‘Parklife’, ‘Country House’ and ‘Girls and Boy’s. The popularity of these songs saw the band enter a battle with Oasis to see who were the biggest band of Britpop.

With the scene on the wane, Blur reinvented themselves. Using American indie rock as an inspiration, Blur released the ‘Song Number 2’ in 1997. This was a classic. It brought them to the mainstream in America. Other songs like ‘Coffee and TV’ were also a huge hit at the time.

The band broke up in 1999. They reformed in 2008. They headlined Oxegen in 2009 and played Electric Picnic in 2015. They have been on hiatus ever since except for a reunion show in 2019.

 

1. Oasis

Arguably one of the biggest bands of all time, Oasis were the kings of the Britpop scene. While Blur were seen as ‘middle class’, Oasis were seen as a ‘working class’ band. This attitude was reflected in their persona, music, and lyrics. A lot of bands from Manchester have featured in this list, but none were bigger than Oasis.

Their debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’ was the fast selling British debut album of all time. They followed that up with ‘(What’s The Story) Morning Glory? The band have sold over 75 million records worldwide, making them one of the most successful bands.

The Gallagher brothers have been the driving force of the band over the years. The two brothers have all always had a contentious relationship. This brotherly rivalry spurred the band on. Their broken relationship eventually led to the band’s split. In 2009, after cancelling a performance at the Rock en Seine festival where Noel claimed Liam was hungover as the reason for the cancellation. Liam was diagnosed with Laryngitis and Noel eventually apologised for the claim. However, it was too little too late, the band had broken up.

The two brothers have taken digs at each other in the media since then. A reunion was suggested by Liam to celebrate the NHS for their work during the pandemic, but as of yet, there has been no response from Noel. A previously unheard demo of a song called ‘Don’t Stop’ was released in May 2020.

Oasis have written iconic songs like ‘Champagne Supernova’, ‘Supersonic’ and the busker favourite ‘Wonderwall’. Their music was legendary, with their own takes on songs from the past, Oasis defined an era and generation. They’ve inspired bands and artists such as the Arctic Monkeys, The Killers, Coldplay, Brian Fallon, and Ryan Adams to name a few.

An Oasis reunion with both brothers in tow would be one of the biggest news story in any year. Rumours always circulate that they will headline Glastonbury or Slane again, but with the brothers unfortunately at loggerheads, a reunion seems doubtful.

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