Days Of Future Past: Pulp – Disco 2000
Thanks to its use in a commercial for EasyJet, I’ve re-connected with Pulp’s Disco 2000 of late, and as a result it has been my most listened-to tune by quite a stretch. In fact, last month this one song probably accounted for almost 25% of all my music consumption!
To say the track is nostalgic would be an understatement. As a song hinged on the very notion of nostalgia, it encouraged such feelings in people even when it came out. Even as a 14 year old kid the lyrics of Disco 2000 would make me well up for that day in the future when I’d be looking back to my youth and wondering whatever became of my hopes and dreams of a life with Deborah, whoever she may be.
At the time of its release it reached a respectable number 7 in the charts, but was bit of a second fiddle to its more popular number 2 achieving sibling Common People. Of course like most chart followers, it was Common People that introduced me to the band, seeing them for the first time ever on Channel 4’s morning zoo show The Big Breakfast. Not only was the song one of the best catchy numbers of the decade, but the video had me mesmerised – simultaneously dealing with themes of class and dating with a twinge of sadness from Jarvis Cocker’s voice, it all also seemed like so much fun as he explored the aisles of a hyper-colourful supermarket worthy of an LSD version of Repo Man. It told us that we could continue being 90s cynical youths, but from now on we could do it AND have some fun.
While Common People may have enjoyed more of the glory back then, it is easily Disco 2000 that trumps my personal chart today. Its sad, sentimental tone contradicts its fun, upbeat music, encouraging some serious (okay, maybe not that serious) social and existential thoughts while on the dance floor. Often concerned with matters of class in British society, with Disco 2000 Pulp channels the same sort of feelings and applies them to your awkward teen years, which is essentially the class struggle for kids.
‘I used to walk you home sometimes but it meant, oh it meant nothing to you’ explains Cocker in the song, clearly in the friend zone, ‘Cos you were so popular’ he sings, a suppressed bitterness desperately being withheld from the surface. The lyrics are beautiful in their ability to capture those hopes and fears of a teen uncertain about the future of their love life, ‘the year 2000’, and if they will ever manage to keep up with their peers, a goal that seems ever so important to so many during those awkward and life-moulding adolescent years.
‘When I came around to call,
You didn’t notice me at all…
You were the first girl at school to get breasts.
Martin said that yours were the best.
The boys all loved you but I was a mess.
I had to watch them trying to get you undressed.
We were friends but that was as far as it went…
I never knew that you’d get married.
I would be living down here on my own’.
No doubt for many the song reminds them of the (manufactured yet somewhat still glorious) Britpop era, when British bands reasserted their place on the global music scene and being a lower class urbanite from Sheffield or Manchester could be just as cool as the wealthiest of performers from New York.
For me however, connection with the tragic narrative aside, it mostly brings back memories of Saturday afternoons in town. The entire music video is framed, which really made it stand out at the time (and maybe even still today?), and I can’t help but recall weekend trips to the record store in Bangor, where I’d always see the Pulp VHS collection of videos on display, the cover opting for the same design as the Disco 2000 music video, which has one of the best titles of all time - Sorted for films and vids, a play on their controversial song Sorted for E’s and Wizz.
What would my future bring? Would I be poor? Alone? A social outcast? For a teenager in 1995 the year 2000 was impossibly far away, another lifetime almost, and often felt like it would never really come. As anticipation for the turn of the millennium grew, hopes, expectations and opportunities moved on, and Disco 2000 became nothing but a dance we once went to ‘on that damp and lonely Thursday years ago’.