The Human League and Arctic Monkeys are just two of the numerous major artists to have emerged from Sheffield. 

Combining the pop smarts of the former with the endlessly quotable lyrics of the latter, Pulp achieved greatness in the 1990s after a decade-and-a-half operating under the radar. 

Smarter, funnier and often catchier than the countless other bands who fell under the ‘Britpop’ umbrella, Pulp have aged considerably better than many of their mid-’90s contemporaries. 

If a standard Oasis lyric was ‘I believe it’s our time to fly in the sunshine’ and stereotypical Blur was ‘oi, right ol’ culture clash while I eat my pie and mash’, Pulp’s was a half-whispered ‘I hid in the cupboard, and watched you undress next to me mate Gary OH GOD’. 

READ MORE: Britpop legends Pulp announce Glasgow gig as part of UK tour

21 years since their last album, Jarvis Cocker and his bandmates have announced a 2023 tour that sees them headlining Glasgow’s TRNSMT festival. 

To celebrate their reunion, we’ve assembled 10 songs and five bonus tracks which tell the story of how Pulp ended up in a different class from their peers. 


Few listening to the first song from Pulp’s first album would have foreseen the heights they would scale a decade later, but it’s clear they always knew their way around a melody. 

With its jaunty, acoustic sound, the band’s debut single could easily pass for Belle and Sebastian.

DOGS ARE EVERYWHERE (Dogs Are Everywhere EP, 1986)

The dogs of this song’s title are not literal, with Cocker telling Record Collector magazine in 1994 that “it’s about people who display a doggish attitude”. 

Catchy and equipped with a singalong refrain, this feels a step closer to the Pulp that rose to fame a few years later. 

BABIES (His ‘N’ Hers, 1994)

A bridge between the relative obscurity they’d been toiling in for over 15 years and their mid-’90s imperial phase, this was the sound of a band realising their pop potential. 

Speaking to Mojo in 2003, Cocker said this tale of a boy spying on his friend’s sister from her wardrobe helped establish Pulp’s reputation for “fairly poppy songs with slightly iffy subject matter”.


Pulp’s first anthem, but by no means their last. Befitting its lyrical content, the song grows increasingly intense before exploding into one of the band’s greatest choruses. When Cocker sings ‘you bought a toy that can reach the places he never goes’, he isn’t talking about Scalextric. 

Sophie Ellis-Bextor covered it in on BBC Radio 2 as part of their '20 Years of Britpop' week in 2014, and released it on her 2020 'Songs from the Kitchen Disco' compilation. 

COMMON PEOPLE (Different Class, 1995)

Every year, around 200,000 people descend on an English farm in search of a ‘Glastonbury moment’. When Stone Roses pulled out of their headline slot in 1995, Pulp stepped up and delivered one for the ages. 

Their performance of ‘Common People’ is considered one of the festival’s most memorable, and played a major role in them becoming one of Britain’s biggest bands.

 A scathing rebuke of young well-to-do types dabbling in poverty who ‘think that poor is cool’ while knowing ‘if you called your dad he could stop it all’, it was named the second greatest song of the 1990s by influential American music website Pitchfork. 

DISCO 2000 (Different Class, 1995)

Different Class was Pulp’s masterpiece. Its third single boasted a chorus every bit as anthemic as that of ‘Common People’, and a riff that called to mind Laura Branigan’s 1982 classic ‘Gloria’. 

The song is addressed to Cocker’s childhood friend Deborah Bone (‘your name is Deborah, Deborah. It never suited ya’), and he would reportedly go on to sing it at the late mental health nurse’s 50th birthday party. It was also covered by legendary Australian artist Nick Cave. 

MILE END (Trainspotting: Music from the Motion Picture, 2006)

The song’s perky sound is juxtaposed with a bleak lyric, which recounts the squalor Cocker and bandmate Steve Mackey endured for nine months in a Mile End tower block. 

Speaking in 1996’s ‘Pulp: The Illustrated Story’, Cocker said: “I was having a bath one day and suddenly saw this tomato skin floating on the surface of the water. I thought ‘this is not how I want to live’.”

First appearing as a b-side on Different Class single ‘Something Changed’, it later soundtracked Begbie’s intrusion on Renton’s London life in Trainspotting.

THIS IS HARDCORE (This Is Hardcore, 1998)

At the height of the band’s success, Cocker transcended the indie scene and found himself on the front of tabloids after crashing Michael Jackson’s stage at the 1996 Brit Awards.

The hangover from that period of excess played out on This Is Hardcore, with lines from the title track like ‘this is the eye of the storm/it’s what men in stained raincoats pay for’ not exactly making fame sound a barrel of laughs. 

Featuring an eerie sample of Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra’s ‘Bolero on the Moon Rocks’, Cocker is at his sleaziest on this string-laden epic. 

SUNRISE (We Love Life, 2001)

Possibly the most dramatic entry in their songbook, this brooding song patiently builds until bursting into life with two thrilling guitar solos. Performed live, Cocker’s limbs flail wildly as the song reaches its climax. 

AFTER YOU (After You 2013)

While there has been no new Pulp album since We Love Life, their 2011-13 reunion was capped off with this infectious slice of disco. Of the many songs produced by James Murphy of New York’s LCD Soundsystem, this may be the only one to mention Safeway and Tesco. 


SOMETHING CHANGED (Different Class, 1995)

Another classic from Different Class, this is a more sombre affair than the album’s two most famous singles. Cocker asking ‘Do you believe that there’s someone up above, and does he have a timetable directing acts of love?’ over swelling strings ranks among the most affecting moments in Pulp’s catalogue. 


You might think you’ve heard the strangest cover of all time, but until you’ve heard Captain James T. Kirk growl “she studied sculpture at St Martin’s College, that’s where I…caught her eye”, your opinion cannot be considered valid. 

THE WEIRD SISTERS - THIS IS THE NIGHT (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, 2005)

Prior to his work on BBC drama This Is Going To Hurt, Cocker had recorded music for Wes Anderson’s Fantastic Mr. Fox and The French Dispatch as well as animated Netflix film The House. Alongside Mackey, he teamed up with Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway for a darkly funky collaboration that featured in the Harry Potter series’ fourth instalment.

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Four years after Pulp ended, Cocker launched his solo career with a single that was musically rousing and lyrically…well, let’s just say he’s less than complimentary about ‘the guys that’s running the show’. It’s impossible to be more specific in this newspaper.


Like Cocker, the late American singer-songwriter Berman can be considered one of his generation’s finest lyricists. A song from his final record (recorded as Purple Mountains) was covered by Canadian musician Chilly Gonzales on his Christmas album. Berman’s evocative lyrics and Cocker’s warm delivery are a perfect match.