Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Never Mind the Britpop-Here's What "Cool Britannia" Was Really Listening To

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Never Mind the Britpop-Here's What "Cool Britannia" Was Really Listening To

Article excerpt

"Candle in the Wind 1997": Elton John

The biggest-selling single of 1997--and of all time, should you discount "White Christmas", which came out before the singles charts were invented. It shifted 33 million units. Half the country has it in the attic but few are likely to have played it since Princess Diana died. The song was an act of protest, in a sense--the feeling public takes on the emotionless monarchy and it lingers in the mind in its live form, at Diana's funeral, Elton distraught with his eyebrow a-wiggling.

"Barbie Girl": Aqua

It spent four weeks at number one during Tony Blair's heady first months, so let us say that "Barbie Girl" was the real soundtrack of New Labour--along with D:Ream's "Things Can Only Get Better" and "Love Shine a Light" by Katrina and the Waves (our last Eurovision win, a goodwill vote from the other countries). Scandinavians have since taken control of pop songwriting across the world. Aqua, from Denmark and Norway, were unsuccessfully sued by the toy company Mattel for "turning Barbie into a sex object" by referring to her as a "blonde bimbo".

"I'll Be Missing You": Puff Daddy and Faith Evans

Second only to "Candle" in sales in 1997, Diddy's Sting-borrowing death anthem was released in tribute to the rapper Notorious BIG, assassinated in March on his way home from presenting an award to the R'n'B singer Toni Braxton (who was also huge that year). You didn't have to know the story behind it; the nationwide love for this invasively sulky hip-hop eulogy shows how mawkish Britons were in an era that history has recast as one big party. …

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