Teresa Stolarskyj

Reflections on culture and society

Britpop to Brexit: Popular music and the neoliberal project in the UK

Recipient of the Michael Fellman Graduate Prize for best essay or thesis, September 2021.

Popular music serves many roles in daily life. It entertains, inspires, and evokes. It brings together people who share enjoyment of its sound or its meaning. It coalesces communities in the spirit of celebration or protest. Critically, it also informs the daily politic by reflecting the values and realities of life on the ground, of people who exist away from the gilded halls of power.

Britpop, a British pop movement in the mid-1990s, performed all of these roles. As a generation who grew up fundamentally under the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, its arbiters, who observed the suffering of the working classes in the 1980s due to the neoliberal policies then introduced, and who were wary of an encroaching American cultural hegemony, ushered in a sense of optimism and creativity through song. Working class voices and concerns were elevated to the top of the pop charts, prime-time television through videos, and notable performances like Glastonbury.

These realities were introduced to the popular conscience, and there was optimism, in turn, of informing the civic dialogue with a more representative politics. In the moment, Tony Blair emerged as a seemingly new kind of leader, one who understood common people.

The continuation of neoliberal policies enacted by Blair and his successors, however, brought no relief to the disaffected. Politics became less about society and governance, instead acting as another form of business to meet consumer desires; low bids need not apply. It became a triumph of image over substance, money over morals, and profit over people. At the same time, the creativity and arch social critique of the Britpop era became subsumed by capital concerns; culture morphed into another profit-making industry, preferring to invest in and promote politically and socially inoffensive entertainment.

The ongoing preference for free market concerns over the socioeconomic well-being and civic participation of those whom neoliberal policies left behind suggests a straight line between the promise of Blair’s New Labour, and the successful “Leave” vote in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Britpop had raised critical voices to the fore and offered an opportunity to validate and incorporate them into the wider politics. Instead, neoliberal policies ignored these salvos, disaffecting those pained classes further, and neutering an art form that once gave them voice in the name of commerce. Leave was not inevitable, but in hindsight, it was a long time in coming.

Britpop emerged in London in the early 1990s, partly in response to the heavy grunge music emerging from America alongside its increasingly global style of commercialism, which threatened to negate distinctly English ways of life. Affected by these notions while touring in America, Blur in 1993 released Modern Life is Rubbish, a knowing and nostalgic view of English life. Coupled with the band Suede’s then-recent appearance on the cover of Select magazine,flanked by the words “Yanks Go Home” alongside the union jack flag, the gauntlet had been dropped and “a movement was born.”[i]

 The Britpop movement evoked the British Invasion of the 1960s – that other great apex of British popular music and youth culture, while portraying distinctly British (or, indeed, English) stories and iconographies. As the movement unfolded, Britpop “drew on arch social comment that defined the best of British music of the 60s.”[ii] Social injustices and frustrations voiced in the songs brought working class concerns to the fore, while revealing the jaded anxieties of postmodern life and the realities of life under neoliberalism.

Of course, not every song was serious, and many hits of the age were simply ebullient pop songs about the freedom of youth:

        We are young, we run green / Keep our teeth nice and clean
        See our friends, see the sights / And feel alright[iii]

Supergrass: A still from the video for "Feel Alright."
Supergrass represented a kind of carefree youthful hedonism celebrated in some Britpop.

Such lyrics reflect a carefree spirit and simple amusements, a time beyond adolescence but before the demands of adulthood take root around career, housing, and family life. Yet while the sheer exuberance of the lyrics and the jangling optimism of the melody suggests a spirit of having cast off repression, with no concerns for the future, its lyrics are still telling. Life is in the moment, but it is not clear whether living day by day and enjoying simple pleasures is the only option. Do highbrow fellows “smoke a fag” and “sleep around,” or is it a symptom of what is available to their class? Twenty years on, will these carefree boys grow into the disaffected working class life?

By contrast, some of the period’s most prominent songs reflected the stories of the working class more overtly, bringing them to commercial and cultural prominence, while underscoring the social concerns of a young generation of artists. The “habitual voyeur of what is known as Parklife,” is a man perpetually reliant on welfare, though his specific circumstance is unclear. He is told to “cut down on (his) Parklife” and “get some exercise,” since his beer gut is showing. Feeding the pigeons is the day’s purpose, revealing a staggeringly empty and likely lonely existence. Compellingly, “it’s got nothing to do with Vorsprung durch Technik,”[iv] that is, progress through technology, and a strap line in the 1980s of the German carmaker, Audi. The importation of European goods, services, and culture, and of machines replacing labour, foreshadows the frustration that threatens the British working class identity into voting Leave more than two decades later. For now, this man makes no progress, each day the same as the last, and the next, though technology and the polity evolve around him. He is left with the pigeons.

While the Parklife man endures social judgment and scolding, the protagonist of Pulp’s “Common People,” expresses frustration at so-called class tourists who would gawk in fascination of his life’s station. He takes an interest in a young Greek woman from a wealthy family who expresses a desire to “do whatever common people do,” while clearly having no sense what that might be. He agrees to show her around the social ropes, telling her to “pretend you’ve got no money” at the supermarket, to which she laughs, the concept being so foreign. “I can’t see anyone else smiling in here,” he retorts. His attempts to reveal common people’s lives fall short, because she knows she has the option to depart that life at any time; she can never truly understand because she cannot know the reality of not having any other option. His hurt and anger are palpable by the end of the song, practically spitting a sense of dejection:

        You will never understand / what it means to live your life
        With no meaning or control / and with nowhere left to go…
        Rent a flat above a shop / cut your hair and get a job
        Smoke some fags and play some pool / pretend you never went to school…
        Never live like common people / never do whatever common people do
        Never fail like common people / never watch your life slide out of view[v]

The members of Pulp seated in a diner window, doing what common people do.
Pulp’s “Common People” spoke to the salt-in-the-wound of class tourism on blue collar Britain.

This protagonist has no problem with his friend being foreign, or wealthy, for that matter. But the pain arises from a voyeurism that marks the lower classes as some kind of curiosity rather than as real people who struggle to find a sense of “meaning or control.” This class tourism further aggrieves the working class, exploiting their pain and frustration as a curiosity, as if another amusement for the wealthy – perhaps also suggesting the thoughtless entitlement that enough money may enable; for a cossetted individual might try to intellectualize suffering, but they can never truly empathize with it.

Both songs, and others among them, revealed the anxieties of the lower class white English male in the 1990s. A pervasive sense of hopelessness, of feeling economically left behind, or of struggling to make ends meet even in grim circumstances, is reflected in mindless amusements and fleeting somatic pleasures. This inspired a “New Lad” culture – which, intriguingly, included ladettes as well. “Slumming it”[vi] was celebrated, even aspirational, a kind of fingers-up to the classes who had rejected them. To be a true lad required credibility through an authentic claim to it. Thus, the class tourism of “Common People” is illegitimate and even offensive, pretending in order to get a rise out of the lifestyles of the impoverished while knowing that one can simply leave at will. Real lads cannot afford to leave, however – so why bother trying? All that is left is to protect their space.

In Britpop, the economically and socially marginalized working classes had been given voice, a testament to their experiences. Damon Albarn affected a Cockney accent for “Parklife,” perhaps drawing on his childhood in east London, while Jarvis Cocker sang with his native Sheffield accent, that city among those hammered by job losses resulting from neoliberal policy in the 1980s. Oasis brought working-class Mancunian intonation to their songs – all three rejecting the posh London dialects that denote upper class education and good breeding. These were truly common people, and they were bringing the regional and disaffected voices to the fore and widening the sense of identity acceptable in cultural constructs. Indeed, “creative capacity and creative power always emerge from below and do so organically, spontaneously, and authentically,”[vii] as did Britpop.

Reflecting on his life in Sheffield, Cocker reveals that, “there’d been this long period of time when things from the kind of world where I was from were considered very marginal…a lot of people were considered marginal because if you lived on the dole in the mid-to-late 80s, you were the scum of the earth, weren’t you?” Britpop showed the middle classes that there was something more to lower-class culture than merely crude behaviour, for “people maybe cottoned on to the fact that it was more alive than the supposedly highbrow culture.”[viii] Cocker and his peers, having grown up in those circumstances, helped to reveal those riches to a mass audience.

These social and class commentaries were alternately evocative and intelligent, raising to popular consciousness the plight of the (predominantly white, male, English) working classes then feeling left behind by neoliberalism. They sprang from a place of authenticity, of having borne witness to the experience. At the same time, the union jack found a new place of pride on clothing, guitars, and other objects, bolstering a sense of national pride and British cultural identity. The “new lad” culture featured an anti-intellectual middle class characterized by traditionally working-class attitudes. The disaffected and socially forgotten white Englishman had found a new swagger, while disregarding the satire and knowing winks in Britpop’s lyrics.

A new individualism was also taking root under neoliberalism, splitting the polity from “we” to “me.” Aspiration became personal: the hope of escaping a social class would mean leaving the rest behind. A sense of fracturing solidarity would ironically hurt those individuals further with time, for solidarity speaks truth to power with far greater impact than a single person, or any number of single persons, could. Yet increasingly, focus groups in suburban areas revealed that saw themselves as “individuals that could demand things from government in return for taxes,” a personal agenda preferenced above that of the public.[ix]

Albarn’s adolescence in Colchester reflects this suburban reality as he recalls, “they’d taken Thatcher’s dream, and they’d really gone for it…vibrancy of the countryside was destroyed” to suburbanization, and the population was socioeconomically and racially homogenous. By contrast, Noel Gallagher of Oasis grew up in a block of working class flats in Manchester, “smoking weed, doing nothing…what aspirations did we have? None.”[x] These two artists came to similar social concerns from opposite experiences, one horrified at life in the Thatcheresque dream, the other endeavouring to escape its nightmare. Rather than focus on the solidarity that was possible between the leaders of the two biggest British bands of the day, in 1996 the music press pitched them as opposites, with Blur positioned as a maligned “inauthentic middle-class pop band, and Oasis the real, gritty working class heroes.”[xi] Growing individualism now manifested as attaching a politics of identity to one’s musical preferences. What was great for moving records, however, harmed the chance of coalescing toward meaningful social change.

"Blur vs Oasis" became a Britpop marketing ploy - but not at the behest of the bands.
This kind of thing, while great for marketing, dampened the message of the music.

Britpop may have hearkened toward a certain nostalgia and a cultural and class reclamation in the modern day, but while the music told of the present and the past, the Labour Party was re-organizing for the future. Routed by a re-election of the Tories under John Major in 1992, Labour saw a need to change. As Britpop swirled culturally, so rose Tony Blair to the leadership of the Labour party in 1994. A formerly “Jagger-esque” band frontman during his University years,[xii] Blair understood the importance of culture, image, and marketing in rebranding his politics for the young generation. Modernization was the watchword, as the politics of old were discarded in favour of relevance to the market. Blair needed to speak to the individual, and especially to the suburban “left-behind” classes.

Albarn’s concern of encroaching American hegemony that inspired Modern Life is Rubbish ought to have extended to politics, for New Labour drew on the 1993 US Democratic campaign as a blueprint. Blair echoed the US President Bill Clinton’s sentiments about “our forgotten middle class,” and counted himself as one of their number.[xiii] At the same time, he presented with “an ordinary ‘blokeishness’”[xiv] that may not have made him quite a lad, but made him seem like he could at least understand them.

Critically, he also understood the cultural moment and aligned himself closely to it, appearing in Vanity Fair’s Cool Britannia issue because it “would be a good thing politically,” despite Britpop unfolding on Major’s watch.[xv] As Blair co-opted a movement for which he could take no credit, British politics began to shift from presenting political ideals and a promise of good governance to yet another consumer need to be fulfilled. Marketing mattered more than the substance, and the legitimate voices of Britpop gave Blair the perfect veneer.

Young voters and the working class saw promise in Blair. He positioned himself as their champion and gave them hope that their realities would be improved. Some of the Britpop artists believed it, too. Noel Gallagher endorsed Blair at the 1996 Brit Awards for “giving a little bit of hope to young people in this country…power to the people!”[xvi]

Power to the people it wasn’t, however, as Blair abandoned Labour’s traditional alignment with working-class struggles to instead promote a “third way” that theoretically combined the interests of corporations, the public sector, and social good. The free market, guided by the people’s will, would even result in “a better form of democracy.”[xvii] But the free market did not advance prosperity for many who believed the promise of New Labour, although this was not immediately apparent.

Blair and New Labour won by a landslide in 1997, as a result of which Gallagher attended a reception at 10 Downing Street. Was this an abandonment of his working class roots, or a vanquishing of them? Albarn declined to attend, having concluded that, “we’d all been taken for a ride…if you went there, you were going to go through the front door, and then just be shown the exit as soon as you got in, as long as it all got on the telly and in the papers. That’s all that mattered.”[xviii] The stories he had told, the social justice concerns he harboured and represented, meant nothing once the election victory was secured. Stories of average British life were no longer convenient for political purposes, because the interests of business were going to take care of it.

Noel Gallagher visits Tony Blair at 10 Downing Street after the latter's first election in 1997.
Blair and Gallagher: a contentious visit to 10 Downing Street.

Just as Blair ascended in 1997 it seemed the hopeful moment had passed. Allegorically, The Verve that year sang that, “the drugs don’t work / they just make things worse,” perhaps reflecting a dejection in the era akin to the crash that follows a high. Blur and Pulp turned to darker music, Oasis became musically bloated under its own success, and Britpop passed into its own nostalgia. Meanwhile, Robbie Williams released the “tellingly-titled Life Through a Lens,” whose inauthenticity as a performer Fisher parallels with Blair’s as a politician: “two cracked actors, one given over to the performance of sincerity, the other dedicated to the performance of irony.”[xix]

Culture itself became co-opted by the neoliberal agenda, as a return on investment increasingly decided whose voice – and what message – would be heard by the people. “Conservative anthemic music” such as Coldplay and Snow Patrol,[xx] commercialized boy and girl bands, and heavily staged programming like X-Factor, began to fill the airwaves and the charts. The spirit of art, satire and protest that inspired much of Britpop became like Blair’s politics: pandering to the presumed desires of the people, placating them with banal and pacifying entertainment. From artists and musicians leading the charge, “the choreographers,” Gallagher notes, “have taken over the world. It’s freaking rubbish.”[xxi]

Blair’s reign, until 2007, and that of his successors of both the Labour and Tory parties, provided little remedy for the working classes, who continued to feel left behind economically and socially. They were no longer voiced in culture, in accordance with Brown’s observation that “the neoliberal attack on the social…is key to generating an antidemocratic culture from below while building and legitimating antidemocratic forms of state power from above.[xxii] Their own voices held little sway, and the representation in culture that they previously enjoyed had atrophied, itself a victim to corporate interests. Yet it was not corporate interests upon whom Prime Minister David Cameron imposed austerity measures to pay down British national debts. As he explained to the working class in 2013, “there is no alternative,”[xxiii] echoing Mrs. Thatcher’s very words at the start of the neoliberal project 30 years earlier.

Margaret Thatcher, who introduced neoliberal policy to the UK in the late 1970s - early 1980s
Margaret Thatcher: “There is no alternative” continues to haunt – and impoverish – many Britons today.

Despite the idea that “affirmative state actions to guarantee adequate conditions of existence…are crucial to preventing disenfranchisement through desperation,” the government continued to turn a blind eye to the culture on the ground. Britpop raised such concerns twenty years prior, but those who could do something about it made different choices. Rather than increasing the opportunity of civic participation and giving a legitimate voice to those who didn’t fit the neoliberal success narrative, they became further marginalized; austerity brought further pain. Under neoliberalism, capitalism makes those judgments, and humanity is not part of its equation.

The frustration of the working class to be recognized and validated by successive governments drove many to align with the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), which emerged as a kind of ally of the disaffected. They peddled a “fantasy of nationalist revival,” free of modern woes and based in an idealized past,[xxiv] which resonated with the “industrial, working-class and economically ‘left-behind’ sections of the country.”[xxv] Clever politicians had failed to deliver solutions for these communities, and hearkening to notions of a glorious Britain of the past became increasingly appealing. If only time could be turned back, perhaps this disaffection could be remedied, and the sense of a dignified life restored. It was a powerful romantic nostalgia for a past in which Britain thrived and they thrived with it.

But while Britpop had offered hope, UKIP traded on fear: of immigrant-others taking domestic jobs, inflaming an already-potent sense of socio-economic abandonment and lack of opportunity endemic since the 1980s, alongside a notion that Britain’s destiny was at the behest of bureaucrats in the European Union.[xxvi] Indeed, low-status jobs in Britain were in competition with unskilled migrants from other EU countries, which had the effect of driving the value of domestic labour down. Dignified workers morphed through neoliberal policy into human capital, a commodification of the self which reduces individuals to their potential for economic value in a market that is stacked against them. The idea of a faceless European bureaucrat dictating their fate merely added salt to the wound.

Desperation not to be left behind seemed to coalesce with the increasing individualism of the age and the swell of national pride and the rise of lad culture evoked by Britpop. The economically and socially forgotten white English male was simply older now, and was reflected in the “typical UKIP recruit:” 99 per cent white, 83 per cent male, and 72 per cent over 55 years of age.[xxvii] This demographic enjoyed few legitimate political options, no longer featured prominently in culture, and had no sense of voice in Westminster where decisions affecting their lives were made. A sense of “lost entitlement to the privileges of whiteness, maleness, and nativism (was)…converted into righteous rage against the social inclusion and political equality of the historically excluded.”[xxviii]

With seemingly little option or opportunity to improve their lot in terms of the status quo, and frustrated at forty years of the neoliberal policies which had little scope for them, the idea of reverting to a glorious past became heady. Identity politics were seemingly the only politics left for a class that felt it had little but its identity left to protect. And while “people can become so attached to their identity as survivors that they lack the capacity to criticize and challenge the conditions under which they are forced to struggle,”[xxix] it is hard to see what alternative remained for these communities. No major party seemed to represent their interests anymore.

A sign aside a brick building, indicating "Vote Leave."
Brexit hasn’t solved much for the disaffected. If only Downing Street heeded Britpop.

Whether there were other options, this demographic overwhelmingly tracks with those who voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 Brexit referendum. Data show that an older demographic of lower education and income preferred to leave, correlating strongly as well with the regions that suffered greatly under the neoliberal reforms of the 1980s. Even in London itself, the relatively deprived areas of the east end preferred leave, in contrast to better-off neighboring boroughs. These Londoners preferred to align as well with UKIP rather than Labour as they historically had.[xxx] Fisher observes that the working class has overwhelmingly been the harbinger of cultural innovation historically. However, “neoliberalism has been a systematic and sustained attack on working class life – the results are now all around us.”[xxxi]

Britpop in the 1990s presented a wry but real glimpse into working class life and the concerns of the average white British male. Its messages reverberated internationally, becoming tremendously popular at the time, and in many instances sounding just as urgent and fresh today. Yet those who could have addressed some of the concerns raised in those songs preferred the concerns of business over those of their constituents. As culture itself capitulated to the neoliberal agenda, popular music lost its capacity for social commentary alongside its ability to rally momentum behind social concerns as it did in advance of Tony Blair’s election. Music that no longer challenges politics no longer challenges us, depriving democracy, society and the individual alike. Rather than having something to truly chew on, we are left instead with sanitized, corporatized, mind-numbing treacle.           

Pulp sang about the power of using one’s mind at the height of Britpop, urging listeners to be themselves, regardless of social judgment, and to believe in and organize toward a more equitable, peaceful, inclusive future:

            Brothers, sisters, can’t you see? / The future’s owned by you and me…
            We want your homes, we want your lives / We want the things you won’t allow us
            We won’t use guns, we won’t use bombs / We’ll use the one thing we’ve got more of
            That’s our minds[xxxii]

The “misfits” of the leading track from Different Class insist on intelligent and non-violent solutions that validate the individual and achieve the aim of each being validated, accepted, and prosperous, at least to an average degree. As outsiders, they have navigated society and a sense of rejection from the status quo, respecting their essential selves despite feeling wounded. Personal idiosyncrasy is embraced rather than erased, and a willingness to raise objection stands to improve the lives of many.

If “politics is…a matter of words expressed in certain ways, in certain formats or locations, in order to achieve certain effects,”[xxxiii] then music is inherently political. Every song tells a story, and those which resonate do so through an authenticity or truth that listeners recognize. Politics shapes society, and in turn is is inevitably reflected in music that emerges from, and is enjoyed by, that society. Even a song which says nothing says something about the culture from whence it emerged.

A collage of Britpop artists.
Pop music: of course it’s political. Art reflects life, and helps to shape society.

The tragedy of neoliberalism in the UK is manifold, including its social and cultural effects. Business comprehends neither art nor governance and can only hold its own interests at hand; thus, art and governance are co-opted to its corporate agenda. There is neither humanity nor social concern listed on a balance sheet or quarterly report. Neoliberalism and its resulting encroachment of capital as King – literally as a kind of ruling monarch – has silenced both the creative and critical voices of songwriters while at the same time, and perhaps doubly as a consequence of this poetic silencing, has stunted the workings of a legitimate democracy by marginalizing entire constituent classes.

Blair and his successors would have been wiser to heed Britpop’s warnings. Instead, their deference to business, and the enduring disregard of the lower classes, has moved Britain in a generation from an apex of music, culture, and renewed national confidence to the disaffection and insularity informing Brexit. The flag-waving pride of Cool Britannia has reduced to a reactive and reductive nationalism, rooted in past glories which may be as imaginary as they are impossible in the modern day. As working class voters in the left-behind regions delivered a narrow “Leave” margin for Brexit, one wonders if it could have been different had the issues raised by Britpop been heeded.

With a corporatized and sanitized musical product on the mass market today, one wonders, too, what contemporary issues are going unsung. Oasis’ Gallagher offers a sprig of hope, that the opportunity to participate meaningfully in shaping society and song will rise again: “Hang in there, I say. The magic is coming. And when it does come, next time do yourself a favour: get involved, enjoy it. It never lasts that long.”[xxxiv]



Brown, Wendy. In the Ruins of Neoliberalism. Cambridge University Press: New York, 2019.

Clarke, Harold D., et al. Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 2017.

Dean, Jodi. Comrade. Verso: London, 2019.

Fisher, Mark. K-Punk. Repeater: London, 2018.

Finlayson, Alan. Making Sense of New Labour. Lawrence and Wishart: London, 2008.

Green, Stephen. Brexit and the British: Who Are We Now? Haus Curiosities: London, 2017.

Savidge, Phill. Lunch with the Wild Frontiers: A History of Britpop and Excess in 13½ Chapters. Jawbone Press: London, 2019.


Anonymous. “EU referendum: full results and analysis,” Guardian, Jun. 23, 2016.https://www.theguardian.com/politics/ng-interactive/2016/jun/23/eu-referendum-live-results-and-analysis.

Barratt, Nicholas. “Did Brexit kill Mark Fisher’s theory of capitalist realism?.” New Statesman, Aug. 13, 2018. https://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2018/08/did-brexit-kill-mark-fisher-s-theory-capitalist-realism.

Curtis, Nick. “Don’t Look Back in Anger: The Rise and Fall of Cool Britannia by Daniel Rachel – review.” Evening Standard. Sept. 19, 2019. https://www.standard.co.uk/culture/books/dont-look-back-in-anger-the-rise-and-fall-of-cool-britannia-by-daniel-rachel-review-a4240981.html. Accessed Feb. 7, 2021.

Gallagher, Noel. “Noel Gallagher: Looking back in anger,” New Statesman, Oct. 24, 2013.

Harris, John. “English politicians are waving the union jack, but is meaning is tattered and torn.” Guardian. Mar 21, 2021.

Platt, Otis. “Britpop: The Story of British Politics and Society in the 1990s.” Queenslander. https://theqlder.com/2019/09/01/britpop-the-story-of-british-politics-and-society-in-the-1990s/. Accessed Feb. 7, 2021.

Robinson, Nick. “There is no alternative (TINA) is back.” BBC News, Mar. 7, 2013.

Staff. “The Last Party, by John Harris,” Independent. Apr. 5, 2009. https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/the-last-party-by-john-harris-590479.html#comments-area. Accessed Feb. 7, 2021.


Curtis, Adam, dir. The Century of the Self. 2002; London, BBC Two.

Harris, John. The Brit Pop Story. 2005; London: BBC Four.

Dower, John, dir. Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop. 2003; London: Passion Pictures for BBC Four.

Pulp – The Story of Common People. 2014; London: BBC Three. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h3wUANrCwmU. Accessed Feb. 11, 2021.

Musical Recordings

Blur. “Parklife.” Recorded Oct. 1993–Jan. 1994. Track 4 on Parklife. Food Records, compact disc.

Blur. Modern Life is Rubbish. Recorded Oct. 1991 – Mar. 1993. Food Records, compact disc.

Pulp. “Common People.” Recorded Jan. 18–24, 1995. Track 3 on Different Class. Island, compact disc.

Pulp. “Mis-Shapes.” Recorded 1995. Track 1 on Different Class. Island, compact disc.

Supergrass. “Alright,” Recorded 1994. Track 1 on I Should Coco. Parlophone, compact disc.


[i] Phill Savidge, Lunch with the Wild Frontiers: A History of Britpop and Excess in 13½ Chapters (London: Jawbone Press, 2019), 87.

[ii] The Brit Pop Story, John Harris, director, (2005; London: BBC Four), documentary.

[iii] Supergrass, “Alright,” Recorded 1994, track 1 on I Should Coco, Parlophone, compact disc.

[iv] Blur, “Parklife,” recorded Oct. 1993–Jan. 1994, track 4 on Parklife, Food Records, compact disc.

[v] Pulp, “Common People,” recorded Jan. 18–24, 1995, track 3 on Different Class, Island, compact disc.

[vi] Brit Pop.

[vii] Wendy Brown, In the Ruins of Neoliberalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2019), 70.

[viii] Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop, directed by John Dower, (2003; London: Passion Pictures for BBC Four).

[ix] The Century of the Self, Adam Curtis, director Adam, dir (2002; London, BBC Two).

[x] Live Forever.

[xi] Live Forever.

[xii] Brit Pop.

[xiii] Alan Finlayson, Making Sense of New Labour (London: Lawrence and Wishart, 2008), 57.

[xiv] Finlayson, 16.

[xv] Otis Platt, “Britpop: The Story of British Politics and Society in the 1990s,” Queenslander, https://theqlder.com/2019/09/01/britpop-the-story-of-british-politics-and-society-in-the-1990s/. Accessed Feb. 7, 2021.

[xvi] Brit Pop.

[xvii] Century of the Self.

[xviii] Live Forever.

[xix] Mark Fisher, K-Punk (London: Repeater, 2018), 349.

[xx] Brit Pop.

[xxi] Live Forever.

[xxii] Brown, 28. Italics original.

[xxiii] Nick Robinson, “There is no alternative (TINA) is back,” BBC News, Mar. 7, 2013.

[xxiv] Fisher, 618.

[xxv] Clarke, 88.

[xxvi] Fisher, 621, and Harold D. Clarke, et al, Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), 12.

[xxvii] Clarke, 91.

[xxviii] Brown, 45.

[xxix] Jodi Dean, Comrade, Verso: London, 2019, 16.

[xxx] Anonymous, “EU referendum: full results and analysis,” Guardian, June 23, 2016.

[xxxi] Fisher, 580.

[xxxii] Pulp, “Mis-Shapes,” recorded 1995, track 1 on Different Class, Island, compact disc.

[xxxiii] Fisher, 382.

[xxxiv] Noel Gallagher, “Noel Gallagher: Looking back in anger,” New Statesman, Oct. 24, 2013.

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