Hit Parade

Champagne Supernova Edition

What was Britpop—a scene, a sound, a movement? What were Oasis and Blur scrapping over? And why was America (mostly) immune?


Episode Notes

In the ’90s, U.K. rock was by Britons, for Britons. The music of the U.K. indie, Madchester and shoegaze scenes fused together into a new wave of guitar bands with punk energy, laddish lyrics and danceable grooves. They called it Britpop.

In the motherland, Britpop set the charts alight: Blur faced off against Oasis. Pulp poked fun at the class system. Suede sold androgyny, and Elastica repackaged ’70s art-punk as ’90s pop. But with rare exception, these hits didn’t translate in America. There was no Third British Invasion in the ’90s—with the exception of that one inscrutable Oasis song about a “Wonderwall.”

Why did Britpop fire up Old Blighty and flop with the Yanks? Join Chris Molanphy as he tries to define Britpop—was it a scene? a sound? a movement?—and explains how the music boomed and busted faster than a cannonball.

Podcast production by Kevin Bendis.


About the Show

Chris Molanphy, a pop-chart analyst and author of Slate’s “Why Is This Song No. 1?” series, tells tales from a half-century of chart history. Through storytelling, trivia, and song snippets, Chris dissects how that song you love—or hate—dominated the airwaves, made its way to the top of the charts, and shaped your memories forever.

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  • Chris Molanphy is a feature writer and critic who writes widely about music and the pop charts.