Monday, 10 September 2012

My Top Ten Pulp Songs

And I thought My Top Ten Smiths Songs was hard to compile...

10. Cocaine Socialism

Tony Blair invited various Britpop artists to Number 10 in a brazen effort to inject some cool Britpop chic into his politics. This was Jarvis' response. And it was only ever released as a b-side!

9. Inside Susan

The first Pulp album I ever heard was Intro. I found it in the chuck-out bin in the radio station where I used to work. I loved every track, but this was the one that made me fall in love with Jarvis the storyteller.

She's still thinking about this when the bus goes past Caroline Lee's house where there was a party last week.
There were some German exchange students there who were very immature
They all ended up jumping out of the bedroom window.
One of them tried to get her to kiss him on the stairs,
so she kicked him.
Later she was sick because she drunk too much cider.
Caroline was drunk as well
She was pretending she was married to a tall boy in glasses,
and she had to wear a polo-neck for three days afterwards to cover up the love-bite on her neck.

8. The Fear

Sends shivers down my spine every time I hear it.

This is our music from the bachelor's den
The sound of loneliness turned up to ten
A horror soundtrack from a stagnant waterbed
And it sounds just like this...

After the heights of Britpop fame, Jarvis has a mental breakdown on record, becomes plagued by panic attacks, finds his libido failing him... and even ends up quoting Paul Daniels. You're gonna like it - but not a lot.

7. Countdown

A long time ago I read an interview with Jarvis where he explained what this song was about. Pulp had been together (in one form or another) almost sixteen years before their first minor Top 40 hit in 1994. Countdown was about feeling like you were stuck on the launchpad, waiting for your life to take off, wondering if the countdown would ever begin.

6. Do You Remember The First Time?

I can't remember a worst time...

5. Bad Cover Version

Gets in on the strength of the video alone (which doesn't even feature Jarvis' vocals... although he does do a mean Brian May).

Here's the video version... if you've never seen it before, you MUST press play now.

4. Babies

Young Jarv hides in his friend's sister's wardrobe to spy on her teenage shenanigans. And then things get out of hand...

3. Sorted For Es and Wizz

Reminds me of every music festival I attended in the 90s, and I never took an E or some wizz in my life. (Well, I take a few wizzes every day... and that increases with age... but not that kind of wizz.)

And this hollow feeling grows and grows and grows
And you want to call your mother, and say,
"Mother - I can never come home again
'Cos I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere
Somewhere in a field in Hampshire - all right."

2. A Little Soul

Jarv confronts his estranged father with his most heartrending lyric. I'm in the minority: I actually prefer the album This Is Hardcore to its predecessor, the million-selling Different Class. It's so much darker and so much deeper: my favourite album of the 90s. I could have filled an entire Top Ten with its tracks (then again, I could have done the same with DC). No other Pulp song chokes me up like this one though.

1. Common People

I tried to convince myself there was a better Pulp song than Common People, I really did. Then I listened to it... and realised that there's a very reason it's their biggest hit. The lyrics are quintessentially Jarvis and the song just builds and builds and builds. One of the few Britpop anthems that never grows tired. And that's before we even get to the Shatner version.

If you're as big a Pulp fan as I am, you're no doubt grinding your teeth in horror at the absence of Disco 2000, Misshapes, Razzmatazz, Stacks, Help The Aged and many others. Sorry, but ten is my limit, and these are the ones that make me Love Life. I could have compiled a Top 100 and still not have included all my favourites...


  1. A good listing for a greatest hits album?

  2. My number 1 is Sunrise closely followed by lipgloss, and cocaine socialism

    1. See, that's the problem. Both Sunrise and Lipgloss are classics... how can you only pick 10?

  3. You could have listed Common People ten times and I would have been happy.

    1. Well, I live to make you happy, Steve.

  4. Babies is my favourite, then Common People and A Little Soul. I was never that keen on Sorted For Es and Wizz, perhaps because I've only ever been to one proper festival and hated it, also never took any Es, and am only half sure I know what wizz is.

    1. I grew to hate festivals when they became so too big and corporate. Wizz is that sherbert stuff they used to give away with the Beano.

  5. The only proper festival I ever went to was Glastonbury in 1995. That was the year Pulp famously played, but I managed to miss them. I didn't know who they were at the time and instead wasted the evening stuck in a human traffic jam (it was packed!) while I tried to get to see someone else (Portishead, I think). As you know, I don't really like going to gigs, and I also hate crowds and camping (I've grown quite attached to indoor plumbing and can't cope without it now), so festivals are my idea of hell. I had never wanted to go to one and didn't want to go at all but my wife (then my girlfriend of just over a year) bought us tickets because she had been once before and had loved it. I moaned about it for weeks before we went, spent most of the time we were there asking if we could go home, and moaned about it for weeks afterwards. I can't believe we are still together! We did go to the Hop Farm festival last year (no corporate sponsors) but that was only for one day, was relatively civilised, and is only a 15 minute drive from our house, so there was no need to camp.

    1. Well, if you went along with THAT attitude...

  6. The problem is, I go to most things with THAT attitude. I'm not so bad now I'm older - I think I may be ageing in reverse - but when I was in my twenties, I had all the sense of fun of a very ill old man. The thing is, when I was at Glastonbury, I thought everyone else looked miserable, too, but that they were all just too stupid to see through the bullshit, and they would probably all go home and say what great fun they had because they had been brainwashed into thinking that things like festivals were fun by Radio 1 and the NME and because it would be socially unacceptable to say that they hated Glastonbury. In retrospect, I probably just needed to take some E and/or wizz and lighten up a bit (but I still would have been much happier at home, listening the CDs and reading comics).

  7. Lipgloss, Something Changed, Bar Italia, Acrylic Afternoons, That song on the last album that I really liked.

    You're right - how can you pick just ten ?

    1. There was only ONE song on their last album that you really liked?

      Listen again!


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