Children, the elderly, your neighbour’s cat: all the people (so many people) know what you’re talking about whenever you shout “PARKLIFE”, whether it’s for a wholly appropriate reason (seeing Phil Daniels on the street) or a decidedly inappropriate reason (seeing Phil Daniels on the street).
The enduring popularity of Blur‘s glorious 1994 single – the eternally-quotable title track from their third studio album, of course – has made it a prime candidate for entry into the incessant world of internet memes in recent years, with snippets of Damon Albarn barking out “PARKLIFE” being cunningly edited around clips of (mostly) famous people pontificating about one thing or another. It’s clearly a winning formula, producing a fresh set of laughs over the weekend when Southampton forward Charlie Austin’s impassioned post-match interview was Parklife’d good and proper by a droll football fan.
We’ll get on to Charlie’s entry into this very niche Hall of Fame in more detail shortly, but here are some of the best ‘Parklife’ memes to have emerged over the past few years.
Let’s kick off with the man who many hold responsible for ‘Parklife”s entry into modern meme parlance. Cast your minds back to 2014 – a simpler time, we think you’ll agree – when Russell Brand was being roasted on Twitter for his expressive writing style.
Russell Brand's writing feels like someone is about to shout "PARKLIFE!" at the end of every sentence. pic.twitter.com/3uio7yrOfo
— dan barker (@danbarker) November 2, 2014
Naturally, people took so well to tweeter Dan Barker’s observation that Brand’s convoluted words were worthy of having a “PARKLIFE” punchline that droves of Twitter users started incessantly replying to any and all of the comedian’s tweets with the phrase. Barker did feel a bit guilty for lighting the touchpaper on this one, telling Buzzfeed News at the time: “Just as Craig David eventually found peace with his Bo Selecta taunters, I hope Russell Brand can eventually forgive me, along with Damon Albarn, Phil Daniels, and @paperclipracket, who pointed out he’d made the observation before I did (his was funnier too).”
Thankfully, Brand was able to laugh at himself and took the jibe in his stride – so much so that he made his own ‘Parklife’ parody to humorously deliver his oh-yes-very-serious take on tax-dodging corporations and, er, David Cameron. And so, a meme was born.
Post-match interviews with top footballers are so often littered with the clichéd spiel that comes as a result of their intense media training (“At the end of the day, it’s all about the three points”, “We go again”, “On another day, we’d get the rub of the green”, etc), so Austin’s refreshing speak-from-the-heart approach following his side’s 1-1 draw with Watford on Saturday (November 10) took plenty of us by surprise.
“We scored a perfectly good goal that was ruled out for offside. The officials cost us two points. That is a joke,” Austin, dripping with the enraged sweat of a man scorned and fiercely staring at the interviewer with a nasty bloodshot eye, incandescently spat. “People go on about VAR (Video Assistant Referee) – they clearly need help. If this is the best, most-watched league in the world then give them all the help they need. It is a joke.”
The original version PARKLIFE ? pic.twitter.com/Lw5ApT7KBe
— Ryan Butterworth (@RJButterworth11) November 11, 2018
All valid points, we think you’ll agree. And what better way could the powers that be at the Premier League and the FA finally be persuaded that video technology needs to be introduced into our game than via the medium of a ‘Parklife’ meme? Austin, for his part, endorsed this latest edit – presumably so that he could avoid a hefty fine from the FA for criticising the officials…
The everyman appeal of ‘Parklife’ has no doubt helped its seamless transition to the realm of football chants ever since the single’s original release 14 years ago, but the song’s influence doesn’t just extend to the terraces. AFTV (formerly known as ArsenalFanTV) has received the ‘Parklife’ treatment thanks to its endless supply of memorable (or should that be memeable?) post-match interviews with its cast of usually-angry Arsenal fans, which helped the channel shoot to internet fame during the closing years of former manager Arsène Wenger’s reign.
So fair play to whoever made the painstaking compilation above, which replaced Daniels’ original narration with a pair of irate Arsenal fans (including channel favourite Troopz) despairing at the state of their team. An honourable mention should also go to the below clip of another Arsenal fan – if only for his melodic delivery of the kind of line that’s worthy of a “PARKLIFE” addendum.
Flashback to when an Arsenal fan was having a crazy rant to 'PARKLIFE'! pic.twitter.com/Mz5Mq9aHBn
— The Football Bible (@FootbaIlBibIe) September 9, 2018
Its amazing how much more coherent Donald Trump is when you add PARKLIFE to the end of his tweets. Now he's just having a harmless singalong pic.twitter.com/kz1wyzHsB9
— Dai Lama (@WelshDalaiLama) March 3, 2017
Find yourself getting angry whenever one of the Commander-in-Chief’s thoughtless tweets appears in your timeline? Well, take the sting out of Trump’s brazen proclamations by simply re-imagining them as cut Phil Daniels lyrics from ‘Parklife’! Yes, it’s the number one cure to get us through these anxious, uneasy times. PARKLIFE! Ha! Hahaha!
so king phil daniels (guy that does all the speaking in parklife) was on this show i’m watching and uh king richard ayoade gives a reference to parklife i’m happy pic.twitter.com/OlMXycUczQ
— eff (@garageflcwer) November 2, 2018
Will the Quadrophenia and Eastenders actor ever get away from his unlikely place in Britpop history? Well, probably not – but at least he’s still taking it all in good humour. Appearing on a recent edition of the Channel 4 panel show Was It Something I Said?, Daniels’ recitation of Winston Churchill’s “We shall fight on the beaches” speech was met with a ‘Parklife’ reference as Richard Ayoade quipped: “I just wanted you to say ‘Parklife!'”
The ‘Parklife’ meme may be for everyone – but let’s just leave poor Phil out of it, alright? He’s suffered enough.