The Null Device

Ten years on

As the 10th anniversary of the Blur-vs.-Oasis stoush approaches, John Harris (author of the definitive Britpop history The Last Party) looks at Britpop's legacy:
Frischmann is about to begin life as a mature student in the US. Cocker called time on Pulp in 2002, and seems to have settled into a life of semi-retirement. The lion's share of Britpop's mid-table attractions - Sleeper, Gene, Shed Seven - have split up. By the time you get into the bands who fell at the first hurdle, you begin to wonder whether they ever existed at all; who, aside from the most hard-bitten trivia buffs, has any clear memory of Powder, Northern Uproar, Laxton's Superb or Octopus?
The world these people built, however, has endured. It's where just about every worthwhile British band aspires to be: that speedy production line that takes promising musicians from their local pub venue, introduces them to the NME, and then - if everything goes to plan - inducts them into the head-rattling world of mainstream celebrity. The idea that there was ever an "underground", where bands could ply their trade without paying any attention to the world of commerce, seems almost laughable. Less than a year ago, for instance, the Kaiser Chiefs were an unknown, transparently Blur-influenced band from Leeds. Now, their small handful of keynote hits has become inescapable, and their fans include Paul McCartney and Richard Gere.

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