We voted for our favourites - and now you've had your say
50. The Longpigs – ‘She Said’
Last week the NME staff spent a week of debate and bitter grudge matches to decide our definitive list of the 50 Greatest Britpop Songs. Now we’ve asked you lot to rearrange our list into your order. And the results are in! Bottom of the list are the poor Longpigs, with their soaring highpoint, ‘She Said’ was Britpop at its most histrionic.
49. Bis – ‘Kandy Pop’
Scottish indie trio Bis were never destined to be Britpop’s biggest stars. However their 1996 offering ‘Kandy Pop’ showed the scene’s irreverent and playful side, a wonky mix of relentlessly upbeat guitars and knowingly meaningless lyrics about sweeties. They were also the first unsigned band ever on Top Of The Pops.
48. Black Grape – ‘Reverend Black Grape’
Britpop saw older acts tweaking their sound to ride the new wave of alternative excitement, and one of the most intriguing comebacks was that of Shaun Ryder, whose Happy Mondays had collapsed in a drug fuelled stupor. Black Grape’s formula was much the same; spaceman poetry over funk-inspired grooves. Here, it proved even more batty.
47. Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci – ‘Patio Song’
Gorky’s singer Euros Childs impossibly cherubic voice and his sister Megan’s tear-tuggingly mournful violin remain two of the most distinctive sounds of the 90s. But also the most undervalued. Never were they combined more sweetly than on this daisy-mowing song, which is about love, not a patio.
46. Kenickie – ‘Punka’
Before her fabulous media career, Lauren Laverne prominence as the front-woman in a spiky four-piece band whose colourful, witty and completely in-yer-face attitude. crossover into mass mainstream appeal never really happened, but they are remembered fondly. The energetic, sarcastic and very funny ‘Punka’ remains their most cherished song
45. The Boo Radleys – ‘Lazarus’
It sounded like someone had slowed ‘Popscene’ down to 12rpm, stuck a deep dub bassline on it and turned it up to 111, and it was truly spectacular. ‘Lazarus’ – the peak of The Boo Radleys’ 1993 masterpiece ‘Giant Steps’ gave Britpop permission to swathe itself in pomp and circumstance when it saw fit.
44. Menswear – ‘Daydreamer’
‘Daydreamer’ is as essential to Britpop as overpriced cocaine and videos of hairy student types riding beds around beaches. The only song the short-lived band had in their arsenal when they started, it turned out to be the only one they’d need – smarmy, arch, and featuring the kind of riff Graham Coxon would have swapped ‘Song 2’ for.
43. Shed Seven – ‘Getting Better’
Breaking through almost the same week as Oasis, and with dangerously similar haircuts, Rick Witter’s mob from York never quite shook out from under their shadow, but they also yielded on of the most durable catalogue’s of the era, and gave Britpop song of its poppiest peaks, like this earnest firecracker of a thing.
42. Babybird – ‘You’re Gorgeous’
Calling Stephen Jones (aka Baby Bird) a one-hit wonder is a touch unfair, him having enjoyed a hugely long career of largely great albums. But he was never going to better this soaring peak: the seedy lyrical tale of a model’s exploitation cutting (bitter)sweetly against the track’s childlike melodic twinkles.
41. The Bluetones – ‘Slight Return’
Britpop at its catchiest and most melodic. No lairiness or sexual undertones here, just a next level jangly pop tune featuring a video with some women running with prams and Bluetones singer Mark Morriss legging it down the street eating a sandwich. Utterly charming.
40. Gene – ‘Olympian’
Gene’s melancholic, Smiths-indebted strains were an anomaly amid the laddish Britpop mainstream. And their first Top 20 single and the title track of their Top 10 debut, set their schtick from the off. Distinctly British, but with a vast, lovelorn heart at their centre, and ‘Olympian’ injected genuine heart into a scene that was at times in danger of self-parody.
39. McAlmont And Butler – ‘Yes’
‘Yes’ emerged from two bitter band splits, but that bitterness was channelled into something truly magical. Freed from Brett Anderson’s noir-ish concerns, Butler went the full Spector, while McAlmont delivers an acrobatic, melodramatic vocal the equal of most things that came out of Muscle Shoals. Our list placed it much higher!
38. Sleeper – ‘Inbetweener’
This super-catchy three minutes from the four-piece band who, as far as anyone can remember, only had Louise Wener in them (the guys at the back were known as ‘Sleeperblokes’) told of hapless nobodies caught up in Blur’s nowhere society, characters that are “nothing special, not too smart… not a work of art or anything”. Also, Dale Winton’s in the video.
37. Super Furry Animals – ‘Ice Hockey Hair’
Britpop’s ultimate destination, the feedback-dunked wig-out of ‘Ice Hockey Hair’ is so head muddling it practically gives you whiplash. Here willful, pill-ful weirdness meets monstrous guitar crunches dead centre, for arguably the Welsh cult legends’ finest hour – and ode to the mullet of all things.
36. Super Furry Animals – ‘The Man Don’t Give A Fuck’
The main hook was lifted from a song by ’70s AOR peddlers Steely Dan, and contained a choice expletive that resulted in this track becoming the most profane-strewn top 40 hit in UK chart history. It almost languished as a B-side until label boss Alan McGee realised that despite the certainty of a radio blackout, it would be a hit.
35. Catatonia – ‘Road Rage’
These valley boys and girl burned briefly and brightly as pop sensations, in part due to their crisp and irresistible hooks, but also their sharp way with a pop culture reference. Previous hit ‘Mulder And Scully’ riffed on X Files mania, while their crowning pop moment likened dating to the trend at the time of shouting at people outside their cars.
34. The Auters – ‘Showgirl’
Luke Haines’ band are thought by many to have helped give birth to Britpop – they toured with Suede, were London-based and this debut single, brought an arch, wry Britishness to its story of marrying a stripper that was very rare at the time but would be everywhere a year later, albeit in a more garish, populist manner.
33. Edwyn Collins – ‘A Girl Like You’
Another guy who can lay claim to having helped pave the way for Britpop, his band Orange Juice’s ramshackle, jangly pop being one of the prime influences. And appropriately he scored his biggest hit during the mid-’90s with this 60s-indebted handclap-heavy stomper with the unforgettable Elvis-inspired video.
32. Mansun – ‘Wide Open Space’
Chester’s Mansun helped spawn a counter-revolution against Britpop’s tired and traddier practitioners: sacking off knees-up bonhomie and Cool Britannia bobbins to exist, like Suede or the Manics, as a glorious anomaly. Here was their unsettling masterclass, a swirling, brooding dust-cloud of loneliness, paranoia and alienation. And jolly good it was too.
31. Elastica – ‘Waking Up’
Proudly pilfering The Stranglers’ ‘No More Heroes’, today’s meekest indie stars could do with taking note of Justine Frischmann’s “If I can’t be a star I won’t get out of bed” attitude, while that chorus, “waking up and getting up has never been easy” is as timeless as their all-black clothes. Make a cup of tea and put (this) record on.
30. The Boo Radleys – ‘Wake Up, Boo!’
Full of handclaps, sun-soaked vocal harmonies, upbeat drums and blasts of brass, no song better captures the rosy optimism of the Britpop era than ‘Wake Up, Boo!’. It secured these previously sonic screw-loosers a Top Ten smash. Not a great song to play at full volume when you’re still up at 7am if you want to keep all of your teeth, however.
29. Paul Weller – ‘The Changingman’
Meeker souls than Paul Weller would have just sat out the ’90s getting sozzled on their own self-importance, what with him being considered the Big Bang of Britpop by all and sundry. But The Modfather cranked up the fuzzy snark with ‘The Changinman’ – a taut, strutting beast that nicked an old ELO riff and seemingly sneered at pretenders beneath.
28. Ash – ‘Girl From Mars’
By 1995, the Britpop spirit had pervaded so far that even young cidermonsters in Downpatrick, NI wanted to run off and join the Blurcus. Hence the insanely catchy smoking-cigars-with-the-alien rampage of ‘Girl From Mars’, the biggest hit yet from maniacal tearaway rock tykes Ash and as good an argument for inter-planetary romance as any song has produced.
27. Suede – ‘Stay Together’
Brett’s often slightly snooty about ‘Stay Together’, insisting it doesn’t scrub up to Suede’s usual standards. And he’s talking out of his hoop: here, the squalid tug o’war between his seedy, glam falsetto and Bernard Butler’s swirling grandiosity results in sleazy friction, all swirling nuclear-bombast as doomed lovers slip away from grimy urban decay.
26. Blur – ‘Chemical World’
A last-minute addition to ‘Modern Life Is Rubbish’, ‘Chemical World’ epitomised Blur’s knack for a subtle social observation perfectly. Full of tales of working class tedium, but strung together with Graham Coxon’s inimitable guitar-work, it introduced Blur MkII’s British cultural fixation with aplomb.
25. Supergrass – ‘Caught By The Fuzz’
It might have recounted a young Gaz Coombs getting busted with a spliff, but “caught by the fuzz” could just as easily describe the feeling of being swept away in its distorted guitars and noisy indie pop bluster. It won the band a Top of the Pops appearance famous for a cheeky reference to Hugh Grant, then embroiled in a prostitution scandal.
24. Blur – ‘Popscene’
The messy birth. Throwing big, bold brass up against freewheeling Graham riffs and, pummeling rhythms, the world just wasn’t ready for this crazed, in-yer-face new scene, it needed to be artfully seduced out of its James T-shirt by ‘The Drowners’ first. But in retrospect this was the brilliant-white spark of thermonuclear fusion that created the Britpop universe.
23. Elastica – ‘Connection’
‘Connection’ was Elastica’s biggest song. At the time, and still today, that crude, blarting, reptile brain-irresistible riff caused heads to instantaneously snap and limbs to jerk in the direction of the nearest danceable surface. ‘Connection’ is one of the most undeniable proofs of how borrowing from your influences (Wire) is, must always be, a good thing.
22. Pulp – ‘Mis-Shapes’
On which Jarvis Cocker’s rage boiled over into a war on stupid people. “What’s the point of being rich if you can’t think what to do with it? ‘Cause you’re so bleedin’ thick” and “we’ll use the one thing we’ve got more of – that’s our minds” are surely two of the finest put-downs to ever make it into a song
21. Pulp – ‘Babies’
While famous kids played out in Camden, Pulp offered a vision far closer to the experiences of the kids going out buying the records and tickets that pair for all those coke habits. ‘Babies’, though takes it to creepy extremes of voyeurism, told the story of the awkward social sexual awakening of nervy teenagers all over suburbia. Still a bit weird to dance to though.
20. Suede – ‘The Wild Ones’
There’s a reason why this 1994 clash of acoustic guitar, organ and elegiac vocals remains Suede’s most soulful song nearly 20 years on. Stirring and anthemic, it’s an emotional tour de force, one singer Brett Anderson claims embodies “the message of Suede”.
19. Blur – ‘For Tomorrow’
Here was the moment that Blur shook off their baggy, trend-hopping beginnings and reinvented themselves as the quintessential chroniclers of the British condition, as Graham’s choppy, quivering and Kinks’-aping guitar – all quaint, la-la-melodies and slick ’60s swagger – gives Damon platform to don his Town Cryer outfit and serenade the capital
18. Pulp – ‘This Is Hardcore’
How do you follow an album as era-defining as ‘Different Class’? First, release a single called ‘Help The Aged’, about old people sniffing glue. Then you go deep on your band’s obsession with twisted sex and bust out the dirtiest song of the era. “You are hardcore, you make me hard.” Jarvis Cocker you bonk-addicted lunatic.
17. Supergrass – ‘Alright’
The last in your vote not hewn from the ‘Big Four’, this ode to teenage kicks still stands up today as a celebration of having nothing to do feeling like the most important job in the world. “It isn’t supposed to be a rally cry for our generation,” Gaz Coombes would later sniff of Britpop’s cheeriest moment. So what, we’re having it
16. Pulp – ‘Sorted For Es and Whizz’
It’s very hard to evoke the elusive and intangible feelings of a festival into the form. But Pulp managed it, providing a wistful, melancholic epitaph to one of the most romance-drenched eras of the modern age. Its thrill was in its ambivalance: “Is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel? Or just 20,000 people standing in a field?”
15. Pulp – ‘Disco 2000’
Quite amazingly, ‘Disco 2000’ was the fourth single to be taken from ‘Different Class’, and manages to actually be the poppermost cut of all. And Pulp’s ultimate floor-filler proved that there was some proper mojo behind Jarvis’ intellectual weight, a suburban mini-epic of teenage crushes, pre-millenial tension and poetic missed opportunities.
14. Blur – ‘End Of A Century’
Inspired by Damon and Justine’s mellowing relationship, ‘End Of A Century’ was the heart and soul of ‘Parklife’, a state-of-the-millennium address dripping with insight and mundanity. Like so many of the best Britpop songs, it found pride and collective joy in the bleakest of situations.
13. Suede – ‘The Drowners’
‘The Drowners’ was that celestial moment where Britpop cohered behind a sleazy, seductive glam writhe about guns, lines, infatuation and intoxication that made everyone who heard it want to instantly drop everything to pull on a blouse, beat their arse blue with a microphone and run with the dogs under nuclear skies. Britpop’s ‘Starman’.
12. Blur – ‘Parklife’
The track that came to epitomise the sound and aesthetic of Britpop might have had far less of a cultural impact without the seminal narration from Him Out Of Quadrophenia. As Graham Coxon explains, “Damon was just going, ‘It don’t feel right doing this’ so I just said why don’t we get someone else to do it like Phil Daniels. So we got him in and it worked.”
11. Blur – ‘To The End’
The first time Blur showed their softer side on the second single taken from ‘Parklife’, 1994’s ‘To The End’ was a tender telling of a broken-down romance. “Been drinking far too much,” pines Damon Albarn over lush orchestration, before a choral cameo from Stereolab’s Lætitia Sadier. Britpop’s mirrorball slow-dance.
10. Blur – ‘The Universal’
As things get serious with your ultimate Britpop top ten, another one of Blur’s elegaic moments. ‘The Great Escape’ was high on its high concepts, and they didn’t get much higher than this string laden vision of a utopian future that maybe had something less than savoury underneath it. No matter that it would end up on a car ad one day, this is pure class.
9. Suede – ‘Trash’
‘Trash’ marked the glorious junction where Suede’s dandyish, outsider manifesto met its buoyant, commercial peak. A thousand TOTP fans frantically began searching for the nearest black blouse. Oasis and the rapidly-accelerating lad culture may have been at their height, but with ‘Trash’, Suede made being a glam weirdo seem like the most appealing thing in the world.
8. Blur – ‘Girls And Boys’
Everyone has their theory of when Britpop began, but a better theory than many will be the moment that Blur’s discotronic ode to summers on the Med crossed over. After this point, they could never again be considered a mere ‘indie’ band, its dancefloor stylings were too irresisitible to the very people who populated the lyrics. Blur’s highest entry on your list.
7. Suede – ‘Animal Nitrate’
For your favourite song by Suede you chose the song that jump-started Britpop’s androgynous wing. Their third single’s hip-thrusting Bowieisms set the bar for everything that was to come and proved they were a real deal – even if half the teen fans had no idea what amyl nitrate is usually used for or what ‘chasing the dragon’ actually meant.
6. Pulp – ‘Common People’
When Team NME made our list through arguments and Chinese burns, we came up with this as our absolute favourite. In your vote it still makes a very respectable entry within the top ten, Pulp’s indomitable exercise in class-war-you-can-dance-to standing out as ferocious to this day. Its outing at Glasto 1995 became the single most unifying moment of the decade.
5. Oasis – Wonderwall’
It became the crossover Britpop anthem that broke Oasis into the mainstream, got voted the best song of all time by Virgin Radio in 2005 and invented stoolrock. But perhaps ‘Wonderwall’s greatest achievement is that it has entered rock legend, enduring on terraces, in pub lock ins and at wedding discos to this day.
4. Oasis – ‘Cigarettes And Alcohol’
More Oasis! Just as much as booze and fags, here’s a song about class; a snarling response to being young and poor under Tory government. Whether they became rock’n’roll stars or whether they just ended up spending their Friday nights down the local, it didn’t matter, the Gallaghers were kicking against things and inviting you to do the same.
3. Oasis – ‘Supersonic’
And even more Oasis! Their best early songs are all about casually catching once-in-a-lifetime chances and swaggering through them as if you were born for it and barely even care. ‘Supersonic’, the ultimate in white-hot chutzpah, remains Noel’s favourite Oasis single, and you can see why. One anagram of Supersonic is ‘super icons’. Chance? Unlikely.
2. Oasis – ‘Don’t Look Back In Anger’
And yes, Oasis once again! There’s a very good reason that Noel Gallagher ends every High Flying Birds gigs with your second favourite Britpop tune. It’s the sound of every hair-tingling high of the 1990s, and the only song in recorded history that begins with John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ piano chords and arguably goes on to actually improve on them.
1. Oasis – ‘Live Forever’
And of course, Oasis walk away with it! We chose ‘Common People’, but who can deny the majesty of Oasis’ breakthrough track, written as a direct riposte to a Nirvana demo title, ‘I Hate Myself And I Want To Die’, Noel grabbed a generation by its plaid sleeves and led it into an optimistic tomorrow. And a new era was born. Hurrah.