England has given music some of its biggest stars. Out of all its contributions, one decade that will go down in history is the 1990s. One of its major genres included Britpop, a uniquely English sound that had never been seen before. Alternative rock and experimental rock also gained popularity during this time. Though the 1960s and 1970s were notable, this decade deserves a closer look. Keep reading for an intro to the biggest English bands of the 1990s.
The Britpop packs
The early days of the decade saw a backlash in English culture against American grunge’s domination of the music world. Though the sounds were different, what identified the genre known as Britpop was a common sense of Britishness in the music. It’s defined by its drums and electric guitars, and charismatic front men.
Britpop mixed alternative rock with a catchier, radio-friendly pop aesthetic. Oasis was one of the iconic 1990s English bands identified with Britpop. The first hit for this group from the North of England came with their second album “(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?” in 1995, right in the middle of the decade. Known as much for their offstage antics as their music, the brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher have been a constant even through several lineup changes.
Oasis had a rivalry with another Britpop star band, Blur, around the time of their first hit record. Blur was on the verge of being dropped by their label when they decided to switch to a more British sound. They were able to cash in on the Britpop wave with their 1994 hit album Park life. After their Britpop success, the band again reinvented themselves and their sound. Pulp and Suede were two more bands that with Blur and Oasis formed what’s called the “Big Four” of Britpop.
The rock bands
Though Britpop is what the 1990s in England is most identified with, the roots of it came from solid English rock. The diversity in the music can be seen by the wide range of styles of bands that were popular during the decade.
Take the Verve’s psychedelic rock for example. Their 1997 album is one of the bestselling of all time, with the instantly recognizable single, “Bitter Sweet Symphony”, its biggest hit. The group has been called the most innovative bands of the period. Their success is sometimes viewed as anti-Britpop as the obsession with Cool Britannia came to an end and people wanted an edgier sound. The growth of the independent rock scene in Manchester gave rise to its own name, “Madchester”. Many of the prominent rock groups like The Verve came from in and around the city.
One exception to this is a so-called small-town band, Radiohead. Despite their origins, they arguably made the biggest impact on music. Their take on rock was more experimental, with their front man Thom Yorke’s ethereal voice a huge departure from the norm. Their popularity in the 1990s marks the peak of their success.