Cool Britannia

The British are well-known for many things, some more flattering than others: they would practically bathe in tea if they could, they arrange themselves in perfect lines, as if queuing was the national sport, they would never miss an opportunity to make obvious comments on the weather, they enjoy the occasional ten pints of lager and the list could go on and on. Just like any stereotypes, all these might be true up to a point, but we all know that things are never black and white ? that is, I?m sure that tea is not every Brit?s? well, cup of tea.

Cool Britannia

However, there is one other idea about the islanders in question which nobody could ever deny (and if they did, who?d care?): they are outstanding musicians. Ok, not all of them, but extraordinary music has been stemming from the UK for at least sixty years now. I don?t know what makes them so good, but only think of the ways in which British artists shook international music up ? should I mention The Beatles, or The Rolling Stones, or Pink Floyd? Or maybe Led Zeppelin and Queen? Anyhow, the Britons are also responsible for a world-wide musical phenomenon which became known under the name of ? what else but ? britpop.

Britpop is a subgenre of alternative rock, which emerged from the British independent scene in the early ?90s, as a reaction against grunge music, which dominated the United States at the time. This new subgenre incorporated elements from the music of the 60?s and 70?s, referred to British culture and concerns, used the British accent in singing and was in general more mellow and laid-back than grunge. Iconic bands for the period were the now famous Oasis, Blur, The Verve and so on, bands which are still influencing to this day young artists around the world. This phenomenon was so intense that it gave birth to a whole cultural movement, which remained known under the name of Cool Britannia. This period was not long-lived, it only lasted for a few years during the 1990s, but it was as powerful as it was short. It was not only the new music that defined Cool Britannia, but also political and social changes, such as the New Labour government under Tony Blair.

Cool Britannia was a time when the UK was cooler, prouder, freer and more British than ever. Or at least that?s what they thought. Because by the early 2000?s, Cool Britannia had already become obsolete and people had grown sick and tired of it, as it actually happens to all sudden cultural and social movements. Whether it represented a genuine cultural shift or not, we cannot say. But the truth is, it gave the world wonderful music and has influenced international artists up to our days.

Cool Britannia
Britannia, you are cool
Take a trip!
Britons ever ever ever
Shall be hip
(Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, Cool Britannia, 1967)

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