Pop/Rock » Alternative/Indie Rock » Madchester
Madchester was the dominant force in British rock during the late '80s and early '90s. A fusion of acid-house dance rhythms and melodic pop, Madchester was distinguished by its loping beats, psychedelic flourishes, and hooky choruses. While the song structures were familiar, the arrangements and attitude were modern, and even the retro-pop touches -- namely the jangling guitars, swirling organs, and sharp pop sense -- functioned as postmodern collages. There were two approaches to this collage, as evidenced by the Stone Roses and Happy Mondays. The Roses were a traditional guitar-pop band, and their songs were straight-ahead pop tunes, bolstered by baggy beats; it was modernized '60s pop. Happy Mondays cut and pasted like rappers sampled, taking choruses from the Beatles and LaBelle and putting them into the context of darkly psychedelic dance. Despite their different approaches, both bands shared a love for acid-house music and culture, as well as the hometown of Manchester, England. As the group's popularity grew, the British press tagged the two groups -- as well as similarly-minded bands like the Charlatans [U.K.] and Inspiral Carpets -- "Madchester" after a Happy Mondays song. (It was also known as "baggy," since the bands wore baggy clothing). Madchester was enormously popular for several years in the U.K. before fading, largely because the Roses and the Mondays fell prey to laziness and drug abuse, respectively. The genre never made much impact in America outside of alternative circles, but Madchester's offspring -- bands like Oasis, Pulp, and Blur that were heavily influenced by the collision of contemporary and classic pop -- became international stars in the mid-'90s.