Parklife (song)

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"Parklife"
Single by Blur starring Phil Daniels
from the album Parklife
Released 22 August 1994
Format 7" vinyl (jukebox only), 12" vinyl, cassette, 2 x CD
Recorded October 1993-January 1994
Genre Britpop
Length 3:05
Label Food
Producer(s) Stephen Street, John Smith, Blur
Blur starring Phil Daniels singles chronology
"To the End"
(1994)
"Parklife"
(1994)
"End of a Century"
(1994)
Parklife track listing
Music video
"Parklife" on YouTube

"Parklife" is the title track from Blur's 1994 album Parklife. When released as the album's third single, "Parklife" reached number 10 in the UK singles chart.[1] The song has spoken verses, narrated by actor Phil Daniels, who also appears in the song's music video and the choruses are sung by frontman Damon Albarn.

The song won Best British Single and Best Video at the 1995 BRIT Awards and was also performed at the 2012 BRIT Awards.[2] The song is one of the defining tracks of Britpop, and features in the 2003 compilation album, Live Forever: The Rise and Fall of Brit Pop.

Background[edit]

A number of newspaper articles about the young middle classes' adoption of Estuary English appeared during the single's chart run, including one in The Sunday Times on the day the song entered the singles chart (although Daniels' accent is more obviously Cockney).[citation needed]

The song played a part in Blur's supposed feud with fellow Britpop band Oasis at the 1996 BRIT Awards when the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, taunted Blur by singing a drunk rendition of "Parklife" (with Liam changing the lyrics to "Shite-life" and Noel shouting "Marmite") when the members of Oasis were collecting the "Best British Album" award, which both bands had been nominated for.

Despite what is commonly believed, the song does not refer to Castle Park in Colchester, the town where the band hail from. According to Damon Albarn when introducing the song during their July 2009 Hyde Park performance, "I came up with the idea for this song in this park. I was living on Kensington Church Street, and I used to come into the park at the other end, and I used to, you know, watch people, and pigeons...", at which moment Phil Daniels appears onstage. Phil also performed a rendition of the song at the band's headline slot at Glastonbury Festival 2009 and at the band's second Hyde Park concert in August 2012, and at the 2012 Brit awards.

Music video[edit]

The song's music video (directed by Pedro Romhanyi) filmed around Greenwich Peninsula features Phil Daniels as a smarmy double glazing salesman (a homage to Tin Men), with Albarn as his assistant. Other band members appear as various characters from the song, including Dave Rowntree and Alex James as a couple, with the latter in drag. At one point, Albarn is impressed to see a man (Graham Coxon) carrying a placard reading "Modern Life Is Rubbish", the title of Blur's previous album; on the reverse is written "End of a Century", the title of their subsequent single from Parklife.

The car used by Daniels and Albarn is a bronze-coloured Ford Granada Coupe Mk1. In one part of the video, the Granada pulls up next to an Audi Cabriolet convertible and Daniels says "It's got nothing to do with your 'Vorsprung durch Technik' yer know" The driver, seemingly played by Alex James, grimaces back at him. Both cars then pull away at speed to reveal 'Parklife' written on the tarmac.

The video was reviewed on a 1995 episode of Beavis and Butt-Head. The characters stated Daniels bore a resemblance to Family Feud host Richard Dawson.

[edit]

The song started to be played at football matches in the mid-1990s, later becoming a "football anthem" and featuring on albums like The Best Footie Anthems in the World...Ever! and The Beautiful Game, the Official Album of Euro 1996.

Thus, Nike aired a television advertisement in 1997 called Parklife. The advertisement featured the song and many famous footballers. The advert received acclaim and later was rated the 14th best advert of all time by ITV in 2005,[3] and as the 15th best by Channel 4 in 2000.[4]

Reception[edit]

The song is still very popular today, with occasional radio plays and regular appearances on music television, in shows such as "The Best of... 1994" on The Vault. In May 2007, NME magazine placed "Parklife" at number 41 in its list of the 50 Greatest Indie Anthems Ever. The song was performed at the closing ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics.

Track listings[edit]

All music composed by Albarn, Coxon, James and Rowntree. All lyrics composed by Albarn.

  • Note: the 7" vinyl edition was pressed for use on jukeboxes and was not issued commercially.

B-sides[edit]

Blur provided the single with a selection of strikingly contrasting B-sides, all pastiches of other genres of music.[6] One of a number of occasional Blur songs written in waltz time and built on an arrangement of harpsichord, piano and string synths, Theme from an Imaginary Film was planned but rejected for the film Decadence. Supa Shoppa was an instrumental in the style of acid jazz, recorded with percussion, synth flute and Hammond organ parts. Drowned in Sound, reviewing Blur's career, noted that it had been "perfect live opener for the Parklife tour when cranked up."[7] Beard also parodied jazz music, and was named based on the stereotype of jazz fans wearing them. An additional alternative version of To the End was also added. (At the time, to boost singles' chart placings it was customary for bands to release singles in several formats with exclusive tracks to encourage fans to buy them all.)

Production credits[edit]

  • "Parklife" and "Theme from an Imaginary Film" produced by Stephen Street
  • "Supa Shoppa" and "Beard" produced by Blur and John Smith
  • "To the End" (French version) produced by Stephen Hague, Blur and John Smith
  • Damon Albarn: Lead Vocals, Piano
  • Phil Daniels: Lead Vocals
  • Graham Coxon: Guitar, Backing Vocals
  • Alex James: Bass Guitar
  • Dave Rowntree: Drums
  • Additional Brass By. The Kick Horns

Charts[edit]

Charts (1994) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[1] 10
Charts (2012) Peak
position
UK Singles Chart[1] 74

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "BLUR | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  2. ^ http://www.brits.co.uk/history/shows/1995
  3. ^ http://www.thinkbox.tv/server/show/nav.943
  4. ^ http://www.uktvadverts.com/facts/?list=ch4
  5. ^ Hammond, Didz. "Blur Parklife". Drowned In Sound. Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
  6. ^ Cavanagh and Maconie (1995). "How did they do that?". Select July. Retrieved 5 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Hammond, Didz. "Blur Parklife". Drowned in Sound. 

External links[edit]