90 songs of my Nineties youth : Pulp – Common People

For a primer on what the (admittedly fairly self-explanatory) series 90 songs of my Nineties Youth is all about see here. This week, Pulp with ‘Common People’

The Song

Pulp had been around since 1978, but it wasn’t until 1994, that they really found success with the ‘His and Hers’ album, full of fantastic singles like ‘Razzmatazz’, ‘Lipgloss’ and ‘Do You Remember The First Time’. But it was ‘Common People’ the first single from the following album ‘Different Class’ that really catapulted them to the big time. A lyrically brilliant tale of a posh girl slumming it with the working classes, set to a joyous indie-disco soundtrack, it became their defining song and one of the best-loved songs of the Britpop era.

Does it still sound good today?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Lyrically it’s as sharp and relevant as ever, but it’s just also so joyous and danceable, a devastating combination. I remember Radio 1’s Evening Session holding a special one off show back in about 1996 to decide the best song of the Britpop era. ‘Common People’ won, and it’s hard to quibble with that decision. Blur and Oasis may have been more successful at the time, but there’s no song from either band that I love as much as this.

What Happened Next?

Follow-up album ‘This is Hardcore’, was darker, stranger and inevitably less successful (a good album though, especially the title track. Next album ‘We Love Life’ was less successful again, despite being critically well received. A greatest hits album released in 2002 reached just number 72 on the album charts, and it seemed Pulp were on the road to becoming Britpop’s forgotten band. They split in 2003, and as often happens, whilst they were away, everyone started to remember how great they were.

In the meantime, Jarvis Cocker has put out solo albums, presented radio shows, popped up in The Culture Show and Harry Potter movies, and plenty more.Russell Senior has dealt antiques, produced records for other bands and written an excellent book on his time in Pulp. Candida Doyle mainly kept out of the public eye, apart from playing live with Jarvis at his solo shows. Steve Mackay has produced and/or co-written many tracks for other artists, including the fantastic ‘Sunshowers’ and ‘Galang’ from MIA’s first album. And Nick Banks took over his family pottery business. A fairly varied selection, I’m sure you’ll agree.

 

In 2011 they inevitably reformed, played a few festivals, and headlined a massive hometown show in Sheffield the following year. Since then it’s been pretty quiet, with Cocker promising they will release no new material. Time will tell of course, but I suspect we have not seen the last of Pulp

 

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