"Popscene" is a song by English alternative rock band Blur, released as a non-album single on 30 March 1992. Despite its relatively low chart placing, it has since become critically praised and regarded as one of the pioneering songs of the Britpop genre.
|Single by Blur|
|Released||30 March 1992|
|Format||7" vinyl, 12" vinyl, cassette, CD|
|Songwriter(s)||Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon, Alex James, Dave Rowntree|
|Blur singles chronology|
The song was first played live in Autumn 1991, and recorded at Matrix Studios in Holborn with producer Steve Lovell. The lyrics showed frontman Damon Albarn's distaste for the music business, complaining that there were too many insignificant indie bands.
Musically, it was different to the style seen on the group's first album Leisure and featured heavily flanged guitars, a Can influenced drumbeat, and brass from session players the Kick Horns. The band considered "Popscene" to be the loudest and best thing they had worked on at that point.
The single reached No. 32 on the UK Singles Chart, and was panned by both Melody Maker and NME. The Beastie Boys, guest reviewing for NME, suggested the record would sound better played at 33rpm instead of 45. The low chart placing came as a confidence blow for the band, who were £60,000 in debt. Food Records boss Andy Ross later said "we were totally devastated ... we thought it was a brilliant single." The band have since complained that the popularity of American grunge music contributed to the single's failure, as they felt the song had a very British feel. Guitarist Graham Coxon said "It was Nirvana that really fucked "Popscene" up."
The experience of recording "Popscene" led the band to believe they should simply play music in their own style and not worry about trends. The "Britishness" of "Popscene" carried over to the group's second album, Modern Life Is Rubbish. The song was not released on the British version of the album, though it was added as an extra track in the United States. In Australia, "Popscene" was not released until 1998, when it was issued as a double A-side with "On Your Own"; it reached No. 69 on the ARIA Singles Chart.
The song has since become a fan favourite and is still performed live. Retrospective critical reaction to "Popscene" has been positive. Jonathan Holden, writing in the Rough Guide To Rock, declared the single to be "excellent" and that its "punky, energetic and brass-fulfilled pop" was out of place in 1992. John Harris considers the track as one of the first ever Britpop songs, and a starting point for the movement. The song had never been included on a UK Blur album, until 2009 when it was released on the compilation Midlife: A Beginner's Guide to Blur.
All songs written by Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree.
7" and cassette
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||32|
with "On Your Own"
- Power 2013, p. 109.
- "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
- Power 2013, p. 110.
- Power 2013, p. 111.
- Power 2013, p. 136.
- Blegg, Doug (13 January 2012). "The Dust Bin : Blur 'Popscene' (video)". Death and Taxes Magazine. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010. Mt. Martha, VIC, Australia: Moonlight Publishing.
- Holden 2003, p. 115.
- Harris 2003, p. 67.
- "Blur to release comeback compilation". The Guardian. 21 May 2009. Retrieved 27 January 2015.
- Wade, Ian (2009). "Review of Blur – Midlife". BBC Music. Retrieved 27 January 2015.