Thursday, 25 August 2016

Look back in Anger.

Out they shone, like two silver bullets, irreverent and derisive. Poking through the see through black shirt that barely covered the torso. Two small round nipples on Brett Anderson's pasty, lithe body that announced the arrival of Brit Pop.

Suede's 1993 Brit Awards performance was, apart from Jarvis cocker's mooning of Michael Jackson, the defining image of Britpop. Forget Liam and Patsy in a bed sheet. The dangerous, androgynous sexuality of Suede, gloriously perturbed much of Middle England. Here was a new generation, confident, sexually ambiguous, and definitely not the Beatles.

Sadly, Suede's beautiful revolution was overtaken by the louder, more obnoxious Oasis, who brought with them a barrel of tedious guitar bands all with shaggy haired, gobshite, lead singers, that flooded the pop charts.

Lad culture was born. Where emasculated males caught in arrested development prolonged their eventual decline into the morose responsibilities of adulthood. Instead opting to suck Hooch up through a straw out of Bozzer's backside. While their mates belted out 'Wonderwall' and tossed each other off to FHM, or other PG pornography, claiming 'it's all banter'.

The great dawn it was not.

I wasn't old enough to be Mad for it. I just remember wearing a shirt that nearly reached my ankles, purchasing a bucket hat and doing a Jimmy Saville impression, before we knew the horror, but looking back most of the Brit pop music was a great turd sandwich, that left kernels between the teeth.

So many dodgy bands, including Dodgy who were dodgy. If you want proof that it was all ass treacle just think of the last time you actually pulled out an Ocean colour scene CD, or a Shed Seven, or a Cast. Your brain knows even if you haven't caught up.

However, there is a saving grace, and that's the criminally overlooked female indie groups that were the real heroes of Bripop.
In the 90's you were spoilt for choice for fantastic girl indie rock groups from Elastica to Sleeper, Echobelly, PJ Harvey, Catatonia, Bjork and so many more. All with these ballsy, grungy, punk inspired lead singers in men's shirts. Singers that weren't made up models doing pretty dance routines, these were real women with wit and gusto and 'I couldn't give a fuck', air about them.

Writing songs that challenged patriarchy with umbrageous self- assurance; Garbarge's 'Stupid girl', Hole's 'Celebrity Skin', or even Shania Twain's 'Man I feel like a woman', where the video inverted the Robert Palmer 'Addicted to love' video by having all the male backing musicians being fawned over instead.

These were indignant women re-defining their gender roles. Taking big doctor martin boot strides towards equality while men cowered. Trapped in a Lost boys escapism. Looking to Liam Gallacher for inarticulate yob, guidance.

Unfortunately, like all subversive movements that look to unsettle the apple cart, the initial angst driven energy is soon subsumed and mollified by the mainstream. Just like when they started selling ripped safety pin t-shirts in BHS and you knew that punk was officially dead; it was inevitable that this movement would meet a similar end.
So it was that this new empowerment was cast off as 'Girl power', and the Spice girls were born, a sugared down form of protest that was easier to market and less incendiary than the female indie bands.
'Girl Power', which proudly declared that women could be whatever they wanted as long as they fitted into a tight British flag dress and an easily recognisable category that succinctly wrapped up their entire personalities.
The rightfully angry female voice became infantilised in the form of Baby spice, or made a parody of with Scary spice.

All fitting in line with male fantasies, and we all too quickly returned back to standard gender roles; Christina Aguilera ass chaps and boys in leather jackets chugging their guitars, a distant world apart and utterly dull.

Now watching X-factor and seeing the lengths that women have to go, or the items of clothing they have to loose still to have a hit records you can't help but wonder what could have been.
When Oasis return to the Brit awards wearing see through tops and g-strings then I'll no longer look back in anger.

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