Moonbase 8, Transformers, and Pulp!

Pulp: “Common People”

Abbie: It’s easy to become a Brit who mocks your own country and claims that nothing of any quality comes from us, because it’s become so normal to do so across England. We may be a laughable nation for countless reasons, but we have definitely added to the history of pop culture and indie music, throughout the 1990’s especially. The Brit-pop scene gained recognition through the famous Oasis/Blur rivalry. I don’t particularly care for either of those groups, but at the same time Pulp were a band who had tried to push their way into the scene for years and did so with their album Different Class.

I’ve been listening to a lot of music this year, what with their being two lockdowns in England, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what I’m hearing. I wanted to bring some new-found attention to this Pulp album and talk about one single called “Common People.” The lyrics of the song relate to the title of the album. The song addresses and mocks the class system and those of the higher class who partake in what’s come to be known as slumming. Jarvis Cocker wrote “Common People” based on a real experience having met a wealthy girl at St Martins College who told him she wanted to move to Hackney and live like the common people. It’s just humorous and kind of sad to hear that as a working class British citizen. Now that I am living among that particular class in England, I despise the pub crawling, drinking culture that is so popular here. To be called one of the common folk here would be an insult. And yet, it still has it’s appeal to some people who see it from the outside.

I remember being younger when I first heard this song and seeing the common people through the same rose-tinted glasses as the exchange student in Cocker’s lyrics. I thought it must be fun to have so many friends and spend your nights out and playing pool and just living a normal life. The song always portrayed an image in my head and I think that’s why it stood out amongst others. Whilst the real woman wanted to move to Hackney, and Pulp themselves come from Sheffield, for me I always pictured the pub scene in Blackpool. Blackpool is laughed at for being such a common or even dodgy area, but when I was young we went on trips to Blackpool and it is easy to have a lot of fun there.

Now I’m a 20-something working class Brit and I used to meet people my age from Blackpool and see them in the bars, drinking and playing pool and darts, smoking outside the arcades, laughing and stumbling down the street and I almost thought it looked cool to be a part of the pub culture there. Just like it’s laughable that the female student wanted to slum down in Hackney, I laugh to myself that the image I still see today when listening to “Common People” and remembering what I used to think looked like fun. Despite the image being silly, that image is the reason that Pulp as a group and the album Different Class have stuck with me since I were young. It’s an album that addresses different classes of the British population and identifies with certain minorities that I and possibly you will happen to be a part of.

“Common People” will paint a picture of England in your head, that’s for sure. Hopefully you’ll learn something from listening to it, even if it is only not to idealise England and see the nation as something it’s certainly not. But lyrics aside, “Common People” is a Brit-pop classic and will make you want to get up and jump around and dance every time you hear that chorus kick in, so I say give it a few listens, you’ll love it, you’ll dance, and you’ll gain an insight into a different kind of world.

Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Written by TV Obsessive

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