Sunday, June 17, 2007

I beg to differ

"In 1997, Radiohead released OK Computer and, in one blow, killed Britpop."
This is the banner headline on the BBC website this evening. (Things must be slow over there.)
Assuming that Britpop was a genre of pop music, following it with the even bigger assumption that one record is ever enough to shift the tectonic plates and then topping it off with the giant leap of faith involved in convincing yourself that Radiohead's "Ok Computer" meant much to anyone outside a narrow section of the population, is it not the case that no genre has ever been killed? Everything just goes on forever.
It's about time we blew the whistle on this linear view of pop history. It gets on my wick.


  1. I think you need to send a memo to the producers of BBC2/4 Rock and Pop docs. The 7 ages of rock series is tooth hurtingly annoying in this respect.

  2. Couldn't agree more with you David, the first time I heard someone playing OK Computer I thought it was Ven Der Graaf Generator! I think The Sun must have invented Britpop, I wonder how the BBC will mark the killing of NWOBHM or perhaps we'll see a headline proclaiming paul Simon's Graceland to have been the death of Goth.

  3. I take your point, but personally I wish it *was* possible to kill Britpop -- not as a genre, but as an annoying and meaningless piece of terminology. And if the same hitman could take out "electronica" while he's at it, that'd be lovely.

  4. Anonymous9:49 am

    Is someone going to tell the lads over at Uncut and Mojo that most of Ok Computer is over-rated twaddle? Side one is ok, but it goes rapidly downhill from there.
    And speaking of classic albums - how can anyone of sound mind rate albums that have tracks like 'fitter happier' and 'yellow submarine'on them? never mind let the drummer sing, let the robot sing? Oh my life.

  5. Anonymous10:20 am

    I thought OK Computer kicked off "The New Seriousness?" Maybe it did both?

  6. OK Computer makes me weep with the tedium of it all... surely the most over-rated album imaginable?

  7. Anonymous2:23 pm

    I have a theory as to why OK Computer is on so many lists of the Best Album Ever (BAE). Towards the end of 1997 Q magazine had a call out for readers to vote for what they thought was the BAE. When the list was published in early 1998, OK Computer was number one. There was also a lot of other recent albums on the list. My theory is that the Q vote, since it took place at the end of the year, was indistinct from the Best of 1997 vote in the eyes of the readers and that OK Computer won by default. This set up a self-perpetuating state where OKC has to appear on any BAE list.

    I do like OKC though.

  8. Anonymous6:04 pm

    Well, I love OK Computer, and i think it has a well deserved place in any pantheon of albums. However, it hasn't got anything to do with Britpop, in any positive or negative sense. I wasn't aware that Britpop was killed at all, never mind in 1997. There are loads of rather tedious bands around now who could comfortably qualify for the label Britpop. The epitome of the whole thing, Oasis, were completely unaffected by anything Radiohead have ever done, and are still around. BBC, my arse!

  9. It's not so much the linear narrative of pop history, it's the compulsion to mythologise relatively recent and modest achievements that stuns me. It seems to be a peculiarly British attitude to pop music.

    Can't wait for 2015's gala celebrations for the 10-year anniversary of the night there was dancing in the streets around the world when the Arctic Monkeys killed off the CD format forever!

  10. Britpop, Shitpop--how something already dead could have been killed off is beyond me! Ok Computer is...well...okay.