The 20 most underrated Britpop singles

29 March 2024, 16:00

Underrated Britpop tracks from Sleeper, Space, Lush and Cast
Underrated Britpop tracks from Sleeper, Space, Lush and Cast. Picture: YouTube
Radio X

By Radio X

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Britpop! It's all about Live Forever, Parklife and Disco 2000 isn't it? Well... no.

Like every musical genre, Britpop was a group of different artists with different approaches that just seemed to "fit" in the era of optimism that sprung up in the mid-1990s.

Looking back, Britpop encapsulated bands that had an indie past (Pulp, Ocean Colour Scene) or lay on the outskirts of the media scene but seemed to epitomise the movement (Oasis, Black Grape).

With that in mind, we're asking you: which Britpop-era songs show the depth and scope of the music made in that period? Which well-known bands from the 90s had some amazing tracks that don't always make the "Greatest Hits" playlists?

Here's a score of great songs - in no particular order - from great Britpop artists.

  1. Manic Street Preachers - Kevin Carter

    Manic Street Preachers - Kevin Carter

    This brooding single from 1996's Everything Must Go album is classic Manics: thought-provoking and with a memorable tune to boot, but it felt overshadowed by its siblings (Design For Life, Australia). Despite the troubling, true-life lyric (photographer is overcome by guilt at his photo of a famine victim winning a prize), this is one of the band's strongest singles, part of the response to the disappearance of founding member Richey Edwards. There's a rare trumpet solo from drummer Sean Moore, too.

  2. Pulp - Babies

    Pulp - Babies (Official Video)

    Originally issued as a single in 1992 when only a few indie stalwarts knew of Jarvis Cocker, this thumbnail sketch of adolescence was re-recorded for the album His 'N' Hers... and the rest is history. Not as showy as Disco 2000 or Common People, this is uniquely Pulp.

  3. Blur - Chemical World

    Blur - Chemical World (Official Music Video)

    Blur initially baffled the world with their album Modern Life Is Rubbish, but once the idea of Britpop coalesced, it all made sense. Damon Albarn indulges his passion for Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd as Chemical World offers a snapshot of the 90s before everything got too out of hand.

  4. Longpigs - She Said

    Longpigs - She Said

    Sheffield's Longpigs never really got the recognition they deserves and their career spluttered out after their second album in 1999. She Said only bumped the lower end of the chart, but its searing passion lives on. Guitarist Richard Hawley has enjoyed much solo success.

  5. Shed Seven - Getting Better

    Shed Seven - Getting Better (Stereo)

    The second single from Rick Witter and co's album A Maxiumum High has lived in the shadow of its successor Going For Gold for too long.

  6. The Auteurs - Showgirl

    The Auteurs - Showgirl

    Led by the acerbic Luke Haines, The Auteurs are the great lost band of Britpop (although Haines would hate us for calling them that). Their debut single has all the glam swagger lesser bands struggled to conjure up - and the most thrilling pause in rock 'n' roll (straight after Haines' first line).

  7. Suede - Metal Mickey

    Suede - Metal Mickey (Official Video)

    The Drowners got the kudos, Animal Nitrate enjoyed the plaudits, while poor old Metal Mickey was stuck in the middle. It got to No 17 in the charts, mind you, and finally gave Brett Anderson his chance to appear on Top Of The Pops.

  8. Supergrass - Lenny

    Supergrass - Lenny (Official HD Video)

    Often tagged as the cheeky chappies of Britpop (mainly due to their whimsical videos) Supergrass were actually a formidable power trio, as this 1995 single proves. It would be overshadowed by its follow-up, Alright.

  9. Cast - Walkaway

    Cast - Walkaway

    Former La's man John Power knew his way around a Mersey Beat-style tune (see Alright, Fine Time, etc) but he could also create the sort of anthemic ballad that would make Noel Gallagher green with envy.

  10. Radiohead - The Bends

    The Bends

    Despite their modern reputation for pushing the envelope when it came to experimental music, the title track of Radiohead's 1995 album shows they could still rock out with the best of them.

  11. Sleeper - What Do I Do Now?

    Sleeper - What Do I Do Now?

    Inbetweener and Sale Of The Century are the best known Sleeper hits today, but in the middle was What Do I Do Now, which made the Top 20 in September 1995.

  12. Echobelly - Great Things

    Echobelly - Great Things (The White Room 1996)

    Not enough kudos is given to Sonya Madan and Glenn Johansson, who worked on some of the most distinctive tunes of the Britpop era. Great Things is nothing less than a call to action.

  13. Ocean Colour Scene - The Circle

    Ocean Colour Scene - The Circle

    The Riverboat Song stuck in the nations' heads as the walk-on music from TFI Friday, while The Day We Caught The Train ticked all the Quadrophenia boxes, but The Circle is the more understated OCS single, recalling Mod heroes The Small Faces.

  14. Gene - Olympian

    Gene - Olympian

    For a number of years, Gene were laughed at in the press for being "mere" Morrissey copyists, but listen closer and there are some epic songs to enjoy.

  15. The Charlatans - Just When You're Thinking Things Over

    The Charlatans - Just When You're Thinkin' Things Over

    Tim Burgess and co's post-baggy phase saw them move into new areas, in this case country rock. The Charlatans weren't really part of Britpop, but their self-titled album dropped in August 1995, right in the middle of the Blur/Oasis rivalry and offered a sense of traditional British calm in the hysteria.

  16. Dodgy - In A Room

    In a room/ Dodgy

    Dodgy may have had some fun tunes in the summer of Britpop (Good Enough, Staying Out For The Summer)

  17. Super Furry Animals - God! Show Me Magic

    Super Furry Animals - God! Show Me Magic (Video)

    Were SFA Britpop? They were many things to many people, but this eccentric single hits all the right notes. Its parent album, Fuzzy Logic, was a highlight of the era, with its Howard Marks cover.

  18. Elastica - Stutter

    Elastica - Stutter

    Connection and Waking Up get the attention, but their debut (on indie label Deceptive), is a two and a half minute blast of raucous punk that remains fresh thirty years later.

  19. Space - Neighbourhood

    Space - Neighbourhood (Official Music Video)

    Female Of The Species is the famous one, but we have a lot of time for Tommy Scott's sly song about suburban weirdness.

  20. Lush - Single Girl

    Lush - Single Girl

    Lush made a name in the early 90s as titans of the shoegaze scene, but a reinvention in the Britpop years showcased the songwriting talent of band members Miki Berenyi and Emma Anderson.