'Where Were You When We Were Getting High?': Britpop Nostalgia and Technological, Social, Cultural and Generational Change in 21st Century Britain

Dion Georgiou (Queen Mary, University of London)
30 June 2015

Dion Georgiou from Queen Mary, University of London talks about Britpop and its sustained afterlife into the 21st century. He looks at what features made up 'Britpop', such as a similar melodies and an orthodox band setup, and talks about what bands were successful and why, for example Oasis and Blur.

He then moves on to look at the dissolution of the Britpop era as bands separated and singers pursued solo careers, only to reform in the noughties to tour using old material to summon old interest. Georgiou focuses on the music industry, the BBC, magazines and newspapers in his exploration of Britpop and how it was preserved, as many albums and unseen material were released to sustain public interest in the bands but also to create a feeling of nostalgia for the period.

He explores how technological advancements have changed listening experiences, as people are now able to choose tracks on CDs and online, rather than listen to albums the way the artist intended on tapes or LPs.  He talks about how younger writers that were teens in the mid-1990s are now able to express their feelings about Britpop and the time period through articles in magazines and newspapers, recounting childhood memories of the era.

In the final part, Georgiou analyses the generational, political and racial demographic of the people that listened and continue to listen to Britpop and points out that a majority of the standard listening base were white middle class people, with more multi-ethnic audiences tending to listen to other music types such as jungle. He concludes that Britpop is mainly now a vehicle to the past, as the music provides a mental and emotional trip back to when life was different and listeners were younger.

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