After the 90s the English influence on North American music goes into an unmistakable decline. Here are some tunes that were part of the last hurrah. See “Brits, 80s” here. Frye’s observations on rock ‘n’ roll here, here, and here.
My Bloody Valentine, “Soon”
This remarkable band is one of a kind but had a tragically short career that never allowed it to rise above the cult status it still retains. Rumor has it that the readers of NME in Britain voted Loveless the best album of the decade, but that the editorial staff intervened and replaced it with Radiohead’s OK Computer; a great album to be sure, but maybe they should have left well enough alone. By the way, the lyrics are supposed to be unintelligible and merely part of the dense of weave of sound that is the band’s hallmark.
PJ Harvey, “Sheela Na Gig”
PJ’s always gone where her muse has taken her, and it’s hard not to love her just for that. It’s why she retains such an enthusiastic following more that twenty hears after breaking onto the scene.
Yes, it’s derivative of American grunge, and it may therefore well represent the decline of a longstanding British influence on American popular music, but it’s still a cool song — not to mention an “empowering” video where the female members of the band are for a change surrounded by naked young men — and Justine Frischman’s sneer, as mannered as it is, may still make any number of otherwise ordinary and taciturn men want to punch a hole in the wall.
Blur, “Song 2”
Again, a sign of decadence: American grunge influencing a band who’d never shown any sign of being so inclined; but, oh my, it’s still what you want a two minute rock ‘n’ roll track to be.
The Cranberries, “Linger”
Every once in awhile the Irish unexpectedly pull up to remind us that the Celtic x-factor might defy our expectations every time.
Radiohead, “High and Dry”
Still one of the great bands of the new century, who’ve released their music for free on the internet, cursed out the music companies and confidently predicted their inevitable demise, as well as more or less messed with everybody in authority while still producing music worth hearing. The abandoned bastard children of Margaret Thatcher’s Britain, they continue to pass for street urchins with their peculiarly English gift for prophecy intact.