Unofficial Anthems 3: Common People

Cos everybody hates a tourist
Especially one that thinks it’s all such a laugh…

This wasn’t my suggestion, it comes from Dean Whitbread, but it is perfect. Not only for that line, but the fact this song was a watershed moment not only in Jarvis Cocker and Pulp’s career, but I’d argue music as Pulp had been on the sidelines for 15 odd years – and proved it was still possible to rock Glastonbury after all that time. Amazingly even after the Stone Roses (who only just came back into life recently) pulled out and it being a last minute headline slot.

The song based on a real incident, when Jarvis was studying at Central St Martins and a girl who was heir to a Greek shipping fortune tried to chat him up at the Union bar. It also uncovered the class divisions in Britain most effectively – ones that were to be widened even more by the economic boom round the corner and the ‘Cocaine Socialism’ of New Labour. It became one of the anthems for the ‘Misshapes’ who didn’t fit. I was one of them!

Class is still a dirty word in Britain, with Tony Blair’s facile attempt at a ‘classless society’ – almost as vapid as Dave’s ‘big society’ really – but it’s something you have to understand before you can really get to grips what Britain is about. It’s the filter you need to look at all history and current events through – because it runs through all things here like a stick of rock (Marx would argue it runs through all places – I agree, but certainly class as hierarchy/’know your place’, the underdog and tall poppy syndrome are the most visible here, in all levels of British society). People have been fighting the class system for hundreds of years here, so all struggles usually have some power battle around class linked to them.

For that reason it makes a better and more accurate musical reflection of where Britain is today and where the LOCOG VIP ‘Olympic Family’ sit within that (note: it’s not a semi-unknown Sheffield singer at the art school bar) than anything Muse has ever done. Although Uprising comes close, shame that sentiment didn’t make it into the ‘official’ theme.

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