Monday, May 22, 1995

Pulp released “Common People”

Common People


Writer(s): Jarvis Cocker, Russell Senior, Steve Mackey, Nick Banks, Candida Doyle (see lyrics here)

Released: May 22, 1995

First Charted: June 3, 1995

Peak: 2 UK, 65 AU, 6 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.6 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 62.0 video, 189.70 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Common People” was the lead single from Pulp’s fifth album, Different Class. It not only became the band’s signature song but a defining Britpop track. WK In 2007, NME magazine ranked it as the third greatest indie anthem ever. WK The song was ranked the greatest song of the Britpop movement by Paste magazine in 2014 and a Rolling Stone readers’ poll in 2015. WK DJ Steve Lamacq said it “seemed to embrace the essence of the time so perfectly.” WK

Musically, the song was based a chord sequence singer Jarvis Cocker wrote on a second-hand Casio keyboard he bought after trading in a bunch of albums at the Record and Tape Exchange in Notting Hill. SF Bassist Steve Mackey said it sounded like Emerson Lake & Palmer’s version of “Fanfare for the Common Man.” SF Music & Media described it as “playing with electro and indie guitar pop like Blur on ‘Girls & Boys.’” WK

That title reminded Cocker of an experience from 1988 when he was enrolled in a film studies class at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design. He was attracted to a Greek art student, but got turned off by her proclamation that she “wanted to move to Hackney and live like ‘the common people.’” WK The song became a critique of slumming in which people of means ascribed glamour to poverty.

The song was written in June 1994. After the band performed the song live, “it became clear to me it was a significant song.” SF Pulp hadn’t finished the rest of the songs for the subsequent album, but pushed to release “Common People.” Cocker said,” the other eight songs were done while ‘Common People’ was in the Top 10.” SF


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First posted 10/13/2021; last updated 8/24/2023.


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