The Greatest Britpop Band

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14 Feb 2007, 12:50

Tonight Oasis will be presented with the Brits Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of their one decent album and a few good b-sides.

But Britpop, like most scenes, isn't exemplified by its pioneering big hitters (Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Suede) but by its 'Johnny-come-lately's, underachievers and 'also-ran's; signed by desperate A&R men dashing after a long departed banwagon.

By the time these acts came along, the music is distilled and reduced to its purest form. They don't have the luxury of originality, identity or the shock of the new to carry them along, so are forced to write catchy tunes to get themselves noticed.

If anyone should be rewarded for their contribution to Britpop, it should be these guys:

Bennet - Their songs sound suspiciously like Parklife, but they differentiate themselves from Blur by having lyrics that are witty (rather than lyrics that think they're witty). Their biggest hit was the ad-agency baiting My Mum Has Gone to Iceland, which reached a staggering number 34.

Longpigs - Now remember, if at all, as a footnote in the career of Richard Hawley. It's a little unfair to blame them for turning up to the Britpop party late. They were signed to Elektra in 1993 when lead singer, Crispin Hunt, was in a car crash which left him in a coma. By the time he woke up, Elektra Records had gone bust. They eventually got round to recording two standout songs She Said and Lost Myself. Hunt is now writing songs for Natalie Imbruglia.

Underworld - One hit wonders fronted by the obese and camp-as-Christmas-in-Dollywood Andrew 'Tiny' Wood. Stay Young is the definitive end of Britpop song - sounding deflated and empty but refusing to let go of the bombast, trying not to admit the party is over.

Gay Dad - It was a brave band that carried the Britpop torch after OK Computer and Urban Hymns. It was a brave band that allowed itself to be fronted by someone who was openly a journalist. It was a brave lead singer that referred to himself as, "an avatar to aheadness". It was a brave band that included the line, "Aerosmith rule," in its lyrics. That's why Gay Dad deserve a medal for releasing the best Britpop song, To Earth With Love, a full 5 years after the term ceased to have any meaning whatsoever.

Menswear - Possibly the only band ever to be influenced by Elastica. Any Britpop band was, at all times, teetering on the brink of being absolutely shit, and none teetered more precariously than Menswe@r.

The band seemed to be famous before even getting together. Their debut gig was crammed with A&R men, they were on the cover of Melody Maker before setting whiny voice to acetate, and were the first band to appear on Top of the Pops before releasing a record.

When they actually got round to making music, they were, inevitably, panned by the very people that had hyped them. Their singles, however, were a triumph of chutzpah over talent. For a brief moment the phrase 'Breath deeper, day dree-mar" was on everyone's lips.

It was empty, disposable, over-hyped fun. That's why they deserve the lifetime achievement award for services to Britpop. That and the fact they, unlike Oasis, had the decency to split up when they realised no one cared any more.
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