To Britpop: six Britpups

Britpop arrived on a wave, and kept rolling.

At the start of 1995, when Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Elastica and Portishead were the bright new stars in the galaxy we know as Britpop, any half-decent gypsy or Melody Maker journalist could have predicted the other names that would turn up on every "alternative" compilation album over the following year and a half. The next wave of young acts - Supergrass, Menswear, Tricky and Cast - was already swelling, and there were even ripples of the wave after that, Ash and the Bluetones among them.

The visions you might have seen in a crystal ball 18 months ago would have fogged over by about now. The people who will be the Next Big Things at the start of 1997 weren't even being mentioned when the term Britpop was coined - in some cases, because they didn't exist. Here are six of them. Four have yet to release their first album. One band have yet to release their first single - though they have released four albums, sort of. All will be explained below.

These tips are not supposed to amount to a definitive list of today's/tomorrow's/this evening's faces. We have kept away from bands like the Divine Comedy and Super Furry Animals, who have each just released the proverbial "highly acclaimed" album, and we have tried to give some idea of the diversity that comprises the class of '96-'97. And "class" is the operative word.


Tears of joy in the Mercury Records A&R department: with the planet in the grip of Morissette-mania, the company has signed Britain's very own Alanis - and there are two of them. Shell and Karen are sisters, "chatty Essex girls", who've got the harmonies, the attitude, the hooks, looks and lyrics. And they've got the Morissette analogy.

"We're cool with that because we think she's amazing," admits Karen. Their first single "I Am, I Feel" is just about to be a hit. Their first album, Alisha Rules the World, is due out in September, and is produced by Dave Stewart. They've already started on its follow-up.

The record company describes Alisha Rules the World thus: "A Pandora's Box of barbed-wire candy twists." Karen describes the album thus: "Some of it is really sickly sweet, and there's some really tough stuff as well. 'I Won't Miss You' is a right-up-your-jacksy sort of thing."

Alisha's Attic's tip for the top: Mundy. "And that's not just because our manager manages him as well. He does a Neil Young, rocky type of thing."


A Liverpool indie band who don't sound like the Beatles. Wasn't it tempting to try a bit of moptop pop last year, when it was so lucrative for everyone else? "Nah, not at all," says guitarist Jamie Murphy. "The Beatles are one of me favourite bands, but what's the point of trying to sound like them? We were a three-piece rock'n'roll band trying to rip off Cyprus Hill."

They ended up sounding more like the Specials, and they now have a fourth member who spices up the ska with a babel of samples. Just as important are the subversive lyrics, tales from the crypt which Space sum up as "boy meets girl and then boy poisons the water supply and kills everyone".

After the hit singles "Neighbourhood" and "Female of the Species" (Gut), Space have an album out in August, produced by Black Grape's Steve Lironi. Will they then be a part of the Northern indie scene? "Nah," says Murphy. "We know all the jingly-jangly guitar bands, but most of them don't like us. They think I'm an arrogant twat."

Space's tip for the top: the Strange. "They're dead weird, and they live next door to me."


Baby Bird have already released four albums - and have yet to release a single. The albums, released in limited editions of 1,000, are the work of Steven Jones - no relation to the Sex Pistols guitarist. A Sheffield performance artist, Jones (right) recorded hundreds of songs on his own four-track machine, with the help of a cheap drum box, cheaper organ and a manic imagination that can take on any genre and leave it dazed and confused.

Baby Bird have grown up into a fully fledged five-piece ("definitely not session musicians") who will hatch their first general-release single on 29 July. Jones is wary of the mainstream: "But we have a good underground history. We can take a step back from chart music. We've got a lot of cards in our hand, to use an awful phrase."

Baby Bird's tip for the top: the Trembling Blue Stars. "They're really, really nice. I like beautiful, very simple tunes, not people who faff around with guitar solos."


Once you've collaborated with Massive Attack future solo stardom is guaranteed. The next beneficiary of this phenomenon is Nicolette. She sang and co-wrote two tracks on 1994's Protection, after catching the Massive men's attention with her debut album in 1992. Her forthcoming Let No One Live Rent Free In Your Head (Mercury) will catch the attention of the rest of the country.

It's trip-hop, jungle, and - oh, I don't know - dreamy futuristic techno- jazz, written by the 32-year-old Nigerian-Scot, and sung in the creepy tones of a small child possessed by the devil. She has been likened to Billie Holiday, and is often dubbed the new Tricky/ Bjork/Goldie/that sort of person. "It's inevitable that I'm going to be compared to somebody," she says. "But whatever attention I get is my due. I've been working for a long time."

So she's ready for stardom? "I think I've always been a star. I always felt special. I felt that I had a lot of light. I think everyone has, they just have to find it."

Nicolette's tip for the top: Roni Size.


John Disco, Sci-Fi Steven and Manda Rin are aged somewhere between 17 and 21, depending on which source you believe, and they act as if they're 10 years younger. They could be into their forties before they shake off the subtitle: Only Unsigned Band To Appear on Top of the Pops.

The anti-Oasis, Bis choose fizzing, riot grrrl-ish disco-punk over Classic Rock any day. There's not much chance of boosting the two guitars/keyboard/drum machine line-up with an orchestra, then? "We're not going to change," says Manda. "We've got our sound now, and it works."

The Glasgwegian trio are so crusadingly indie that they support Ayr United and have just turned down the big companies' pieces of silver and signed to Wiiija Records. Are major labels intrinsically a bad thing? "No. Indie, major: they're all the same. They all want to push you around."

Bis's tip for the top: Kenickie, who are even younger than Bis.


They said it couldn't be done! But it could! Mansun are the first band successfully to cross Oasis and Blur. Add to that Elastica's sharp corners, the funky psychedelic side of the Stone Roses, the sleazoid dance energy of Black Grape, and a Suede vocal inflexion here and there, in between the nasal sneeeaars. I can't find any Pulp or Supergrass, but otherwise you've got the best of class of '93-'95 Britpop all rolled into one.

Parlophone's Mansun started as a five-piece from Chester, but kept losing personnel in rock'n'roll escapades that involved throwing pineapples at each other. And then there were three. Are they set on self-destruction? "We attract a vortex of chaos around us," mumbles mainman Paul Draper, "but inside the eye of the storm we're all pretty quiet. People think we're working-class hoodlums, but I'm a typical art-school drop-out."

Why do Draper's songs glory in such names as "Take It Easy Chicken", "Egg Shaped Fred" and "Ski Jump Nose"? "I always start with the title, so it has to be something that makes me laugh. But I'd like to write a song with George Michael, and I don't think he'd want to do a song with a name like that."

Mansun's tip for the top: Gluebound. "They're really sensational, a bit like REM."

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible