When there’s a cultural movement as huge as Britpop was in the mid-90s, there’s going to be plenty of folks trying to jump on the bandwagon. Whilst the likes of Oasis, Blur, Pulp, Elastica, Supergrass and Suede created some genuinely classic albums during Britpop’s heyday, there were also a lot (and we mean a lot) of their peers who weren’t fit to zip up Liam Gallagher’s parka. In fact, even some of the big hitters could drop the ball and only get it together for three and a half minutes. Here’s 10 Britpop albums with only one song worth your time.
Oasis – Go Let It Out (from Standing On The Shoulder of Giants, 2000)
Yeah, let’s get this one out of the way early doors; Oasis’ fourth album is an embarrassment. Songs such as I Can See A Liar and the career-low of Little James would be bad for a bunch of Year 10’s entering their first Battle Of The Bands, for one of the biggest bands in the world at the time, they’re truly pathetic. It’s actually the opening one-two of Fuckin’ In The Bushes (which we’re calling an instrumental intro rather than a song) and first single Go Let It Out that stop this album from being a total, irredeemable disaster. Sad for it, more like!
Dodgy – In A Room (from Free Peace Sweet, 1996)
At the height of the Battle of Britpop, Dodgy were asked to pick sides but the London trio declared that it was irrelevant - Blur and Oasis were The Byrds and the Stones, they said, but they were The Beatles. We admire their confidence, but we don’t admire their music as much. Third album Free Peace Sweet contained their biggest hit, the deeply annoying Top Five single Good Enough. We’re not picking that, though, going for the first single and clear highlight In A Room, which promised something that Dodgy never again delivered.
Kula Shaker – Hey Dude (from K, 1996)
The success of Kula Shaker remains one of the great mysteries of the era. Crispian Mills’ “Eastern-inspired” psychedelic nonsense sounds like the very worst gap-year-posh-boy-in-India cliches, and would, at best, be described as cultural appropriation these days. Yet K was a number one album that eventually went double Platinum in the UK. Baffling. If everything on the record was as good as the straight-ahead retro-rock of Hey Dude then maybe we’d get it, but it really isn’t.
Ocean Colour Scene – Hundred Mile High City (from Marchin’ Already, 1997)
Ocean Colour Scene’s Moseley Shoals album is one of Britpop's standouts and featured a string of excellent hit singles. Due to its success, follow-up Marchin’ Already had a lot of hype surrounding it, but by the time it came out in 1997, Britpop was flagging and the Birmingham quartet were running out of ideas. It was a ploddy attempt to recapture the glory of the last album and the only time they managed it was really going for it on the slaloming rhythms of opening track Hundred Mile High City.
Marion – Sleep (from This World And Body, 1996)
So, The Smiths were good eh! We all loved them. We didn’t mind that Pulp, Suede, The House Of Love and a few others took healthy dollops of Morrissey and Marr and stuck it in their music, but by 1996 those aping the Manchester legends had started to get a bit... well, crap. Macclesfield four-piece Marion were one such band, exclusively copying The Smiths over a pair of forgettable albums. At least on the first one, 1996’s This World And Body, they had the upbeat and boisterous Sleep, which is a banger.
Gay Dad – To Earth With Love (from Leisure Noise, 1999)
London’s Gay Dad had possibly the worst name in 90’s music, a decade that saw the emergence of Limp Bizkit and Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. You can get away with those sorts of names if you make decent music, Gay Dad did not. Debut album Leisure Noise arrived long after the party was over, and it sounded it, a mess of Pavement-style alt-rock, Britpop chirpiness and pure wackiness. It was all over the shop, but the album's first single To Earth With Love was maybe the only time they harnessed their chaotic energy into something that actually worked.
McAlmont And Butler – Yes (The Sound Of McAlmont And Butler, 1995)
Okay, we admit this is a harsh selection. When former Suede guitarist Bernard Butler and vocalist David McAlmont began working together, it was initially only because Butler wanted someone to sing a song he was working on called Yes. The song, an orchestral indie-rock anthem, was a commercial and critical smash, and to this day still sounds like one of the very best songs of the 90s. It was so good they decided to try and write some more material, which became 1995’s The Sound Of McAlmont And Butler. It's a perfectly serviceable album in the main, but is completely, utterly and totally dwarfed by that one masterpiece of a single.
The Seahorses – Love Is The Law (from Do It Yourself, 1997)
John Squire’s guitar playing was an essential element that made The Stone Roses one of the greatest British bands of all time. When he left, they went to shite so disastrously that a few people wondered if Squire was the thing that made the Roses so special. Those questions were answered in no uncertain terms when his next band, The Seahorses, came along. One remarkably average album of bog-standard Britpop with endless Squire noodling called Do It Yourself showed that, no, The Stone Roses were no one man band. Saying that, debut single Love Is The Law, is a lovely song. One that would be one of the best songs on The Second Coming in our opinion. It wouldn’t get on the debut though, chill out.
The Charlatans - Can’t Get Out Of Bed (from Up To Our Hips, 1994)
We all love Tim Burgess and his listening parties these days, don’t we? And when you think about The Charlatans’ back catalogue, it all feels pretty bulletproof from a distance; early adopters of a baggy aesthetic who transitioned into Britpop elder statesmen with a slew of iconic hits. History seems to have written out the ropey mid-90s period just prior to their Tellin’ Stories comeback-era now, though, but we haven’t forgotten. Up To Our Hips, from 1994, is a deeply unfocussed and rambling set of psych-rock bumbling, saved by the excellently summery first single Can’t Get Out Of Bed.
Suede – Electricity (from Head Music, 1999)
To many people, Suede are the definitive Britpop band; they were one of the first, they’ve got at least two classic albums and their excellent recent 2022 record Autofiction proved they’ve still got it. However, even they weren’t immune to the decline of the genre toward the end of the 90s. Their fourth album Head Music was a rather exhausted set of ideas, retreading the familiar ground of 1996’s Coming Up with far less in the way of memorable tunes. Some people like She’s in Fashion, we’re not dead against Can’t Get Enough, but the only song we’d really go to bat for is the luminous glam of Electricity. Think we’re being harsh? Wait until you hear what we think about its stinking follow-up A New Morning.