Music documentaries often talk about the “Death of Britpop”. Some even go as far as asking who was responsible for killing it. That’s anthropomorphism gone a little mad. It’s not as if you could walk into a room and find a musical genre lying dead on the floor.
“Hey Brit, we’re just going to the shops; do you want anything? Brit? Britpop??!! Nooooo!!!!!!!!”
I have a theory that Britpop didn’t die, but instead just devolved into a pallid form music that I like to call ‘Indius Inspidus’. The main perpetrators of this silly sub-genus were bands like Embrace, Travis and Ocean Colour Scene. All these acts produced a sort of lacklustre, acoustic guitar-strumming indie that plagued the airwaves in the late 90s. An honourable mention must also go to Gomez, who were slightly different; as they augmented their indie warbling with an awful attempt at blues shouting.
Some rock historians like to point to OK Computer as bringing about the end of Britpop. I certainly think that it partly helped to usher in this new regime. I really like that album, but always thought that the Insipids were doing a poor man’s imitation of Radiohead. They shared the same sombre, acoustic-guitar strumming sensibility.
I put down the popularity of this kind of music to those pesky young white males again. I think listening to these simplistic songs, sung by other white guys, made them believe that they could be rock stars too. I certainly knew a few guys who would grin whenever a Travis song came on the radio, and say proudly they could play it on their newly bought acoustic. I call this phenomenon ‘Comfort Music’.
Being the rebel that I was, I reacted badly towards the Indius Insipidus phenomenon. However, in my rush to be different, I embraced something I didn’t fully understand: Prog Rock. But more on that in another post…