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Example – have we arrived at a 90s revival?

How apt that as the Tour de France gets into gear we find ourselves talking about cycles. But yes, what comes around once in music often comes around again. New generations discover older sounds and find them more relevant than what is current. They give them a contemporary twist et voila, you’ve got a whole new genre. When it works, you get The Strokes re-imagining new wave. When it doesn’t, you get La Roux not being as good as Yazoo. Them’s the risks.

The 80s revival was the last. Frontrunners for the next included baggy and house…but given the rise of Example to #1, have we just skipped straight to the mid-90s?

 If you haven’t heard ‘Change The Way You Kiss Me’, it sounds like Faithless covering ‘Let Me Be Your Fantasy’. It could easily sit between Whigfield and The Tamperer in any outskirts of town, megaclub 1996 Saturday night.  It’s pop as we once knew it. But Example is not an old timer recreating his days in the sun. He’s young, he’s almost viciously current and his music is not obviously homage. But it’s undeniably redolent of those days. Even his label – Ministry of Sound – seems as 90s as Sunny D and cargo trousers.

When people look at the 90s, it’s Britpop and techno that stand as the dominant musical forces of the decade. However, the club culture which was immensely popular wasn’t cutting edge. It featured a lot of acts who were never cool, but who were massively successful. Do you remember Scooter? Lucky you. They were fucking awful. But they were also big. You couldn’t visit a party without someone putting on a Cream CD, and we’re not talking ‘Tales of Brave Ulysses’ here.

There was a popular, mainstream music which was studiously ignored by the press but was much more prevalent than anything Roni Size ever did. While club historians may try to pretend otherwise, most people’s experience of 90s clubbing was to ‘Mr Vain’ rather than Aphex Twin. There was something essentially vacuous about the music, but undeniably catchy. If you heard it once, it was likely you’d never be rid of it. Many a cold sore was swapped to these songs. It’s that section of the public which Example seems top be tapping into, and he’s found a big audience for it. Where will it go? Who knows, but you may want to invest in a fluorescent Teddy Smith shirt just in case.


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