Like most Americans, I ignored Pulp during their heyday. There were dozens of other one-word Britpop bands to explore, some of whom were more popular, got better reviews or had more of their teeth knocked out. Jarvis Cocker was too pretty to compete with the Gallaghers and Damon Albarn. But as proven at Pulp's return to New York last week, he's also the best songwriter and performer out of the whole bunch.
I won't recap the show for you--Rob Sheffield's review and BrooklynVegan's photographs have already done the job thoroughly. But I haven't been able to stop listening to Pulp since last Wednesday at Radio City Music Hall, where they put on one of the most enjoyably captivating shows that I've seen all year. Cocker is a perfect frontman--watching him dance and tell stories would have been worth the price of admission, but seeing the band fulfill the night with catchy, danceable melodies and sharp lyrics was transcendent. Forget their place in '90s Britpop--I'd rank their best songs with Bowie, Elvis Costello and Bryan Ferry.
"Common People" is by far Pulp's biggest song, and one of their best. It's still the song that I pick to introduce people to Pulp, probably because it was the one that got me into them, on a mix CD from a friend in England with the inscription, "This is a dance classic in the UK because they have major class issues." And good taste in music, obviously.