We travel back in time to a time to the nineties, era of Britpop, Britney – and the birth of the Internet.

Ah the nineties, the moment our lives were poised to change forever, with few of us – bar the prescient few – quite comprehending how far-reaching and transformative the advent of the Internet would be. It was a time when D:Ream memorably sang that things could only get better; a time when the Spice Girls stormed the BRIT Awards in Union Jack dresses and pinched Prince Charles’ bottom; and a time when, concurrently, some seriously good music that has stood the test of the intervening decades was made.

Britpop may be synonymous with ‘Cool Britannia’, with the rise of laddism and with some questionable sartorial choices (has anyone ever truly looked good in a bucket hat?). But it also spawned some excellent tunes. For us, Pulp, with Jarvis as its charismatic front man, its witty lyrics and its anthems for the awkward, was the band of the decade. ‘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,’ sang Jarvis almost as a manifesto as thousands crooned along. Sure, there was an element of laddy gormlessness to some of the Britpop movement, but at its finest – as with the best of Blur, Suede, Oasis and Ocean Colour Scene – it felt like the expression of a new, post-Thatcher generation full of the thrill of the new. With David Beckham’s contemporaneous captainship of Manchester fUnited, that northern city suddenly seemed like the centre of everything.



And then there was the music coming from America, from the Fugees (Lauryn Hill was the coolest person on the planet) to the street strains of Gangsta’s Paradise, which you couldn’t go for five minutes without hearing in 1995, ringing out through sleepy hamlets everywhere that couldn’t have been less gangsta if they tried. And none of that is to forget the extraordinary new sounds emerging from Bristol and the West Country: the likes of Massive Attack and Portishead may be very much of their time, but they seriously stand up on relistening.

These were the days of Chris Evans’ swagger on TFI Friday; when watching Friends wasn’t a retro pastime; when football was, apparently, coming home (or so we told ourselves); and when there was a wave of optimism that coursed through the country. Forgive us our (not unenjoyable) nostalgia; lockdown will do that to a person. But for now, we invite you to listen to this nineties-fest of a playlist and join us in it this weekend.

Listen to the playlist on Spotify.

By Nancy Alsop
May 2020

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Nancy Alsop

Editor

Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.

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