Different Class

Different Class

Britpop was in full swing when Pulp unleashed 1995’s Different Class, which topped the UK album chart and received the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. However, the Sheffield troupe weren’t necessarily interested in joining (or conforming to) any sort of movement. That was obvious from the Different Class album artwork, which contained a prominent plea: “Please understand. We don’t want no trouble. We just want the right to be different. That’s all.” It was also obvious from the pointed lyrics penned by vocalist Jarvis Cocker, a lanky presence known for arch statements, Bowie-esque vocal tone and unsparing social commentary. Look no further than the neon-hued, synth-punk dance-floor anthem “Common People”, a cutting portrayal of a rich clubber who wants to “do whatever common people do”, which Cocker told The Face targeted “a certain voyeurism on the part of the middle classes, a certain romanticism of working-class culture, and a desire to slum it a bit”. Other songs were just as direct, whether slamming empty hedonism (“Sorted for E’s & Wizz”) or praising the value of smarts over wealth when faced with class warfare (“Mis-Shapes”). Sonically, Different Class was equally refined. Although other Britpop stars drew inspiration from The Beatles and the Stones, ’70s power pop and colourful ’80s New Wave, Pulp favoured debonair textures indebted to noir music and moody art rock—as heard on the strings-swept, ’60s-mod-pop homage “Something Changed” and the eerie, Leonard Cohen-reminiscent “F.E.E.L.I.N.G.C.A.L.L.E.D.L.O.V.E.” Different Class was a commercial hit whose anthems for misfits and outsiders elevated the quality of mainstream music discourse.

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